Pennsylvania State Senator Resigns After Arrest on Child Pornography Charges

A Pennsylvania state senator resigned Wednesday, one day after he was charged with having child pornography on his iPhone.

The senator, Michael Folmer, 63, was arrested on Tuesday night after investigators searched his home in Lebanon, Pa., and found two images depicting “indecent contact with a minor” on his phone, according to a criminal complaint filed by the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General.

The senator submitted his resignation letter after fellow Republicans in the capital reviewed the complaint and urged him to step down.

“We are sickened and disturbed by the charges brought against Mike Folmer yesterday,” Joe Scarnati, the Senate president pro tempore, and Jake Corman, the Senate majority leader, said in a statement. “The 48th Senatorial District seat is now vacant.”

Attempts to reach Mr. Folmer on Wednesday evening were unsuccessful.

The investigation was prompted after the social networking site Tumblr alerted the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in February that a user had uploaded an image of child pornography in December 2017. The police later traced the Tumblr account to the senator’s home.

Image
CreditOffice of the District Attorney of Lebanon County, via Associated Press

Mr. Folmer was arrested on three counts of possession of child pornography and one count of criminal use of a communication facility, all felonies, according to the complaint.

“This defendant serves as a state Senator and was entrusted to honor and represent his community in the Pennsylvania Capitol,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania said in a statement.

“I will continue to say it — no one is above the law, no matter what position of power they hold,” Mr. Shapiro added.

A preliminary hearing for Mr. Folmer is scheduled for Sept. 26, according to a spokeswoman in the attorney general’s office. Mr. Folmer was arraigned on Tuesday night and posted $25,000 bail. The spokeswoman did not know if Mr. Folmer had obtained a lawyer.

The senator was elected in 2006 and was the chairman of the Senate State Government Committee. In 2016, he earned the nickname “Marijuana Mike” after pushing to legalize the use of medical cannabis in the state.

According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Mr. Folmer was among the chamber’s most conservative members.

He is married and has seven grandchildren, according to his website.

He told investigators on Tuesday night that “he had been dealing with some personal problems” and that he had received the child pornography through his Tumblr blog, according to the complaint.

Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, said Mr. Folmer “made the right decision to 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,” he said in a statement. “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.”

Jaclyn Peiser contributed reporting.