Governor calls for lawmaker’s resignation over new charges

Regional News

FILE – In this Nov. 1, 2017 file photo Pennsylvania state Sen. Mike Folmer, R-Lebanon, speaks at a Capitol news conference in Harrisburg, Pa. Folmer is facing child pornography possession charges after authorities said they executed a search warrant Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019, on a tip from an online social media provider that the user had uploaded an image using its service. (AP Photo/Marc Levy, File)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Gov. Tom Wolf called for the resignation of a Pennsylvania state lawmaker who is facing child pornography possession charges after authorities received a tip from an online social media provider that a user had uploaded an image on its service.

Wolf, a Democrat, said in a brief statement Wednesday that the charges against Republican Sen. Mike Folmer are disgusting and beyond comprehension, and that Folmer should immediately resign.

“We elect leaders to serve as a voice for those who do not have the ability to advocate for their own needs, demanding that they will protect our children, families, and communities,” Wolf said. “The charges against Senator Folmer are disgusting and beyond comprehension, and show he has taken advantage of the trust and privilege afforded by the people of Pennsylvania.”

Folmer, 63, was arrested and charged Tuesday night, according to the state attorney general’s office.

A message left at Folmer’s listed home telephone number wasn’t immediately returned Tuesday night, and neither were messages for a lawyer that is representing Folmer.

Investigators allegedly found two images of child pornography on Folmer’s cellphone after they executed a search warrant at his house in Lebanon County and asked him to turn it over.

In February, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children received a notification from the social media site, Tumblr, that a user had uploaded at least one image that contained suspected child pornography in December 2017, according to court papers provided by the attorney general’s office.

Investigators then traced the Tumblr account to Folmer’s email address and home address, they said.

He was charged with possession of child pornography and criminal use of a communication facility, both felonies.

Bail was set at $25,000, but it was not immediately clear if Folmer had posted it, the attorney general’s office said.

“Michael Folmer stated that he had been dealing with some personal problems/issues and that he had received child pornography through his Tumblr blog,” an agent of the attorney general’s office wrote in the court papers.

Folmer was elected to a fourth four-year term in November and chairs the Senate State Government Committee, where he has spent considerable time recently working on election reform bills. The Senate’s top two Republican leaders released a statement Tuesday saying they were shocked to learn of the allegations against Folmer and were removing him of his committee chairmanship.

Long considered one of the chamber’s most conservative members, Folmer was crucial to helping swing Republican votes behind a bill to legalize medical marijuana in 2016. He routinely pulls a miniature copy of the U.S. Constitution from his breast pocket when speaking publicly to emphasize a point.

On one recent hot-button issue, Folmer had opposed legislation to lift legal barriers that block long-ago victims of child sexual abuse from suing institutions, such as the Roman Catholic Church, that may have covered up the crimes.

Folmer was first elected in 2006, knocking off the Senate’s then-sitting Republican majority leader in that year’s anti-pay raise backlash.

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