By BRIAN SKOLOFF
Associated Press Writer
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- Florida's top police agency said Wednesday its investigation into former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley's lurid Internet communications with teenage boys has been hindered because neither Foley nor the House will let investigators examine his congressional computers.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement says it hopes to conclude its investigation next week. Foley, a Florida Republican, resigned from Congress on Sept. 29 after being confronted with the computer messages he sent to male teenage pages who had worked on Capitol Hill.
"We have requested to review federally owned computers that Mr. Foley used during his time as a representative, but the U.S. House of Representatives ... cited case law restrictions that prohibited them from releasing those computers," said Heather Smith, an FDLE spokeswoman.
Smith said that the House claims the computers are considered congressional work papers, and that only Foley can release them for review.
A federal appeals court ruled this month that the U.S. Justice Department violated the Constitution in its 2006 raid of the office of Rep. William Jefferson, D-La. The FBI crossed the line when it viewed every record in the office without allowing Jefferson to argue that some involved legislative business, the court ruled.
Florida investigators were working with the FBI and Foley's attorney, David Roth, to try to reach an agreement, Smith said. At the investigation's conclusion, its findings will be forwarded to prosecutors to determine if charges are warranted.
Under Florida law, the age of consent is 18. A crime may have been committed if Foley is simply found to have seduced or attempted to seduce a minor using lewd or explicit language.
Roth declined to comment Wednesday, citing the continuing investigation. He has previously maintained his client's innocence and said Foley never had inappropriate sexual contact with minors.
A message left after hours at the Committee on House Administration, which oversees daily functions of the House, was not immediately returned. A telephone message left for the House general counsel was also not immediately returned.
Smith wouldn't comment on whether investigators have already reviewed Foley's personal computers. She also couldn't say how many federal computers the agency was seeking.
After his resignation, Foley checked himself into an Arizona facility for what his attorneys said was treatment of "alcoholism and other behavioral problems." At the time, his attorney said Foley was gay, an alcoholic and had been molested by a priest as a teenage altar boy in Florida.
Foley has kept a low profile since coming out of rehab but has been seen occasionally in the Palm Beach area.