Pennsylvania lawmaker facing child porn possession charges

HARRISBURG, Pa. — A Pennsylvania state lawmaker is facing child pornography possession charges after authorities said they executed a search warrant Tuesday on a tip from an online social media provider that the user had uploaded an image using its service.

Sen. Mike Folmer was arrested and charged Tuesday night, the state attorney general's office said. 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.

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In February, the social media site, Tumblr, sent a complaint to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children 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.

A message left at Folmer's listed home telephone number wasn't immediately returned Tuesday night, and neither were messages for a lawyer said by a Senate official to be representing Folmer.

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

"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.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro revealed the arrest in a statement after 9 p.m. Tuesday.

"I will continue to say it — no one is above the law, no matter what position of power they hold," Shapiro said. "I will continue to work to protect children and hold those who abuse them accountable."

Folmer, a 63-year-old Republican, 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.

In a statement late Tuesday, the Senate's top two Republican leaders said they were shocked to learn of the allegations against Folmer and were removing him of his committee chairmanship.

Further action will be taken in the coming days, they said.

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.

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

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