Florida law enforcement officials have been denied access to the office computers of disgraced former Congressman Mark Foley, despite a direct appeal to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi for help in their investigation of sexually explicit messages sent to current and former teenage congressional pages.
In response to a letter sent to Pelosi last month by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, House Deputy General Counsel Kerry Kircher denied the agency's request, citing the Speech or Debate Clause of the Constitution, which protects congressional papers.
"We have received [the House's] response, and our investigative team is reviewing it," FDLE spokesperson Heather Smith told ABC News. She said despite the House refusal to provide access to Foley's computers, the FDLE is still investigating the former Republican who now sells real estate in Palm Beach, Fla.
Foley resigned Sept. 29, 2006, hours after ABC News questioned him about sexually explicit messages with former congressional pages, some of whom were under the age of 18 at the time of the exchanges.
Federal officials turned the case over to Florida after concluding that Foley did not engage in any actual sexual contact until the former pages had turned 18, and had therefore not violated federal law. Washington, D.C. law defines the age of consent as 16.
Under Florida law, it is a third-degree felony both to use the Internet "to seduce, solicit, lure or entice" a minor "to commit any illegal act...relating to lewdness and indecent exposure" and to transmit any "information or data that is harmful to minors...via electronic mail," which includes instant messages.
In the letter to the FDLE, Kircher also wrote that the House counsel understood "from other sources" that the FDLE had closed its investigation and directed Commissioner Bailey -- "without trying to tell you how to conduct your investigation" -- to consult with the Department of Justice and Foley's lawyers.
Over the summer, Kircher had said, "At DOJ's request, the CAO (the Chief Administrative Officer of the House) has already searched the two sets of back up tapes for sexually explicit graphic attachments and embedded images. Nothing responsive was found."
"The speaker referred the commissioner's request to the House Office of General Counsel, and that response is the response of the House," Brendan Daly, spokesman for the Pelosi, told ABC News.
As for Foley himself, his Washington, D.C. lawyer, Bill Taylor, told ABC News the former congressman has "no comment," but added, "He has not committed any crime. We expect all investigations to be terminated very shortly."