By Ray Long and Maura Zurick
SPRINGFIELD - Federal agents sought evidence of child pornography last week when they seized computers from the Elgin district office of former state Rep. Keith Farnham, who resigned Wednesday, according to a search warrant released Friday.
In addition, a federal agent on Thursday took a laptop computer that Farnham used in the Illinois House chamber, and last week agents removed a computer from a legislative office building next to the Capitol, according to the documents and an interview with a state technology official.
Asked about the child pornography matter, Farnham, 66, said Friday in a phone interview: “I can’t comment about any of it.”
Farnham has not been accused of any wrongdoing. Randall Samborn, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago, said no charges have been filed and refused further comment.
Farnham handed in his resignation on Wednesday, saying he was “battling serious health issues for a number of years.” He had won the Democratic primary on Tuesday, running unopposed.
Democratic leaders from the area will choose Farnham’s replacement.
The federal investigation came to light last week when authorities acknowledged search warrants were executed at Farnham’s Elgin district office and home. Several computers and equipment were seized at Farnham’s district office, as well as a computer from his office near the Capitol, according to federal records obtained by the Tribune using the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.
An attachment to the March 7 warrant to search Farnham’s district office indicated agents were searching for “documents in any format and medium pertaining to the possession, receipt or distribution of child pornography” as well as computer files, copies and negatives of child pornography or any documents that depicted minors “engaged in sexually explicit conduct.” Agents also sought accounts tied to any Internet service provider or computer file sharing, according to the records.
The Thursday request for the laptop Farnham used in the House chamber came from an agent with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, part of the federal Department of Homeland Security, said Tim Rice, who oversees information technology for the General Assembly.
“They basically made a request, and I consented to it,” said Rice, executive director of the Legislative Information System, which oversees electronics in the House.
Farnham took office in 2009 and received $74,569 in pay in 2013, according to comptroller records.