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Pennsylvania state senator, charged with possession of child pornography, resigns

Pennsylvania state Sen. Mike Folmer (R) in 2017. (Marc Levy/AP)
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Pennsylvania state Sen. Mike Folmer has resigned after being charged with possession of child pornography on Tuesday night. Authorities said they discovered images of child pornography on his cellphone.

The Patriot-News reported that the charges against Folmer (R), 63, include sexual abuse of children, possession of child pornography and criminal use of a communication facility.

The married grandfather of seven was charged as the result of a tip that the blogging site Tumblr had found that a user had uploaded an image of child pornography using its application, officials said. They said the tip led investigators to Folmer’s home in Lebanon, Pa., where they executed a search warrant and found child pornography images on his cellphone.

Folmer told authorities that he received child pornography images through his Tumblr blog and that he was experiencing “some personal problems,” according to the Patriot-News’s review of charging documents.

On Wednesday afternoon, Pennsylvania Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R) and Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R) announced Folmer’s retirement.

“We are sickened and disturbed by the charges brought against Mike Folmer yesterday,” the Senate leaders said in a statement, according to the Patriot-News. “We have reviewed the criminal complaint and spoke with Mike Folmer early this morning to insist on his resignation from the Senate. We are in receipt of his letter of resignation and the 48th Senatorial District seat is now vacant.”

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) announced the charges Tuesday night. By Wednesday morning, Folmer’s name had already been removed from the Pennsylvania Senate State Government Committee’s website, and his colleagues on both sides of the aisle were condemning his alleged actions and calling for him to resign.

Gov. Tom Wolf (D) called Wednesday morning for Folmer’s immediate resignation, according to the Patriot-News.

“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 in a statement to the news outlet. “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. He should immediately resign.”

Before Folmer’s resignation, Scarnati and Corman issued a joint statement Tuesday night announcing Folmer’s immediate removal from his post as chairman of the Senate State Government Committee. “Further action in response to these charges will be taken by Senate Leadership in the coming days,” they said.

Folmer did not respond to messages seeking comment Wednesday morning.

The state senator was first elected in 2006, when he defeated Sen. David Brightbill in the GOP primary — a win that was spurred by anger over 2005 legislative pay raises, according to the Patriot-News.

Folmer became known as “Marijuana Mike” for his role in pushing the governor’s medical marijuana legislation, which was signed in 2016.

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