MIAMI (Reuters) - Florida authorities have decided not to prosecute former Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Foley, who resigned in disgrace two years ago after reports that he sent sexually explicit Internet messages to underage congressional interns.
The sex scandal involving a six-term Florida lawmaker who chaired the House caucus on missing and exploited children, coming just weeks before the 2006 congressional elections, helped Democrats win control of the House and Senate from the Republicans.
In an investigative report released on Friday, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said it did not have enough evidence to charge Foley and the statute of limitations had expired.
“It is important to note that even if the statute of limitations had not run, there would be no prosecutable case,” the report said.
The FDLE said it had not been able to obtain original records of the instant messages and noted that both the House of Representatives and Foley had denied investigators access to government computers to search for saved messages.
“FDLE conducted as thorough and comprehensive investigation as possible considering Congress and Mr. Foley denied us access to critical data,” FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey said in a statement.
A few days after Foley resigned in September 2006, his attorney said the ex-congressman had been molested by a clergyman as a teenager and had entered rehab for treatment of alcoholism but denied Foley had ever had sexual contact with a minor.
Foley was chairman of the House caucus on missing and exploited children and authored key provisions of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act signed into law in 2006.
His Florida seat, considered safe for the Republicans, went to a Democrat, helping the party win control of both houses of Congress for the first time in more than a decade.
Reporting by Jim Loney, editing by Todd Eastham