Ex-Lawmaker Won’t Face Charges in Page Case
By CHRISTINE JORDAN SEXTON | September 19, 2008
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Nearly two years after a Florida congressman abruptly resigned over sexually explicit messages he sent to a teenage House page, law enforcement authorities here have concluded there is “insufficient evidence” to charge him with breaking Florida laws.
Commissioner Gerald Bailey of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, who was asked in September 2006 to look into the conduct of the congressman, Representative Mark Foley, Republican of West Palm Beach, said Friday that investigators were hampered by Mr. Foley’s refusal and that of Congress to grant them access to Congressional computer files.
The department was investigating whether Mr. Foley violated Florida’s computer child pornography and exploitation law, and a state law banning the transmittal of harmful material to minors via electronic equipment or devices.
“F.D.L.E. conducted as thorough and comprehensive investigation as possible considering Congress and Mr. Foley denied us access to critical data,” Mr. Bailey said in a statement. “Should additional information arise which is pertinent to this case, we will ensure it is appropriately investigated.”
A spokeswoman for the Justice Department, Laura Sweeney, confirmed that Mr. Foley also would not face any federal charges.
At a news conference on Friday in West Palm Beach, Mr. Foley’s lawyer, David Roth, read a statement in which Mr. Foley said, “I am of course relieved that after extensive and thorough investigations by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Justice Department, the determination has been made that there is no probable cause to believe that I committed any crime.”
He added: “Once again, I wish to express my sincerest apologies for the inappropriate e-mails I sent, particularly to the recipients. I fully realize that I failed them, my family, my former Congressional colleagues and staff, as well as the community as a whole.”
As part of the state investigation in 2006, Gov. Jeb Bush asked state law enforcement officials to look into why Mr. Foley’s electronic messages had not been turned over to Florida prosecutors. House officials told investigators they were constitutionally barred from granting access to Mr. Foley’s Congressional computer without his consent.
The report said that Mr. Roth told the Florida authorities that it was not in his client’s best interest to grant such access.
The department’s 16-page report, available online at www.fdle.state.fl.us, shows that law-enforcement officials interviewed 17 former House pages from Florida who had worked in Congress from 2000 to 2006. None reported having had any inappropriate activity or conversations with Mr. Foley.
The report said that the page whose accusations led to Mr. Foley’s resignation told investigators that he and Mr. Foley had exchanged e-mail and instant messages in which the congressman asked about his sexual experiences.
The page also said that Mr. Foley wanted to perform sexual acts with him at a reunion of pages in Washington in 2003.
Florida’s jurisdiction in the case was restricted to crimes that occurred in the state. Investigators also were limited by a three-year statute of limitations in the case.
The Florida report says that the F.B.I interviewed four pages who had also communicated electronically with Mr. Foley, but that the interviews did not yield evidence that the conversations occurred while Mr. Foley was in Florida.
The backlash surrounding the case helped the Democrats regain control of Congress in the 2006 elections, including Mr. Foley’s seat.