Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Posted at 5:27 PM ET, 02/ 9/2011

Rep. Chris Lee (R-Craigslist) [UPDATE]

By Jonathan Capehart

Rules of Life No. 234,232: Nothing good comes from a grown man doing muscle poses in front of the mirror and capturing them in photos taken by a handheld device. The poster poser for this rule since last September has been Bishop Eddie Long. He was accused of sending muscle photos of himself to young men in his suburban Atlanta megachurch. Well Wednesday Long might have been supplanted by a member of Congress.

Rep. Chris Lee (R-N.Y.) is a married father of one who was just elected to his second term. But, according to a revealing story on Gawker, in the "Women seeking men" section of Craigslist, "Christopher Lee" is a divorced lobbyist -- with one child.

One particular woman apparently found "Christopher" attractive (especially after being sent said shirtless muscle pose photo) and chatted him up. Nothing risque. In fact, the alleged e-mails back and forth between the two are rather charming in their own way. But according to the Web site, she told Gawker she ended communication when she discovered who he really was. Not only did she get ticked. She got even -- by handing the missives over to Gawker, which ran them. And then Maureen O'Connor, the Gawker writer who penned the story, posed the $100 million question: "So did the married Republican prowl Craiglist looking for hook ups?"

After first telling us that he couldn't comment until we forwarded every single e-mail in question, a request we refused -- shouldn't Lee know if he's corresponded with women on Craigslist? -- Lee's spokesman eventually announced that the Congressman believed he'd been hacked, and provided an email he claims Lee sent to his staff about the security breach on January 21.

That could, theoretically, be true. But the evidence suggests otherwise. The emails were sent more than a week before the alleged hack. The shirtless photo -- which, according to metadata contained in the picture, was taken in Washington, D.C. -- was taken with a Blackberry, the same mobile device that Lee uses, which means the hacker would have also accessed the photos on Lee's phone. (And he'd still be the kind of guy who takes cellphone pictures of himself topless.) Finally, if someone had hacked into his account and was seeking to discredit the politician, why shoot in the dark with such relatively benign emails to a totally random middle-aged woman on Craigslist, who didn't seem motivated one way or the other to us, beyond wanting to share a funny story? And funny it is.

I tried to get Lee's side of the story by reaching out to his office by phone (the communications director was "not available") and e-mail (crickets). But intrepid Fox News got him on the way to his car. While Lee wasn't up for talking about the Gawker report, he did say, "I have to work this out with my wife." Which leads to another Rule of Life that most folks seem to break: Never let your alleged involvement in a burgeoning sex scandal take on a life of its own due to silence or ever-changing excuses. Just ask Eric Massa.

[Update, 6:05 p.m.: Former Rep. Chris Lee (R-N.Y.) issued the following statement, which was read on the House floor:

"It has been a tremendous honor to serve the people of Western New York. I regret the harm that my actions have caused my family, my staff and my constituents.I deeply and sincerely apologize to them all. I have made profound mistakes and I promise to work as hard as I can to seek their forgiveness.The challenges we face in Western New York and across the country are too serious for me to allow this distraction to continue, and so I am announcing that I have resigned my seat in Congress effective immediately."

Well, at least Lee didn't let this thing drag out. He did the best thing for his district, the House and his family. Now the hard part begins. I wish him luck.]

By Jonathan Capehart  | February 9, 2011; 5:27 PM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Exit Jim Webb; enter. . .Who?
Next: Is America helpless in Egypt?

Comments

And were those young men supposed to get all excited over those photos? As a hetero female, I'm just wondering.

Posted by: thebink | February 9, 2011 6:23 PM | Report abuse

My God! Are we becoming a nation of complete and utter prudes or what? What is the big deal here? He befriended a woman on Craigslist and sent her some photos no worse than you can see on any beach in America. Granted, he mislead her... which is his biggest offense IMHO.

But by what selfish right does this woman have to destroy a career and possibly a marriage by submitting his private writings to her to the press? How utterly selfish and immature of her. She should have ended their relationship if it bothered her - but she had no right to assassinate his character in this manner.

Posted by: mb56 | February 9, 2011 6:30 PM | Report abuse

My God! Are we becoming a nation of complete and utter prudes or what? What is the big deal here? He befriended a woman on Craigslist and sent her some photos no worse than you can see on any beach in America. Granted, he mislead her... which is his biggest offense IMHO.

But by what selfish right does this woman have to destroy a career and possibly a marriage by submitting his private writings to her to the press? How utterly selfish and immature of her. She should have ended their relationship if it bothered her - but she had no right to assassinate his character in this manner.

Posted by: mb56 | February 9, 2011 6:31 PM | Report abuse

Stupid is as stupid does.

Posted by: Chippewa | February 9, 2011 6:35 PM | Report abuse

mb56, their "relationship" consisted of a series of emails over the course of one day. And saying "I promise not to disappoint" is a little more suggestive of intent than befriending somebody. He lied, and she busted him for it. He got what he deserved.

Posted by: Spunkmeyer | February 9, 2011 6:36 PM | Report abuse

If Republicans wern't totally obsessed with running every else's bedroom I would have to agree with nb56...but seeing how the GOP want's to control everyone else's lovelife this is just plain out funny. Gingrich, Ensign, Craig, Foley...love thise wacky Republicans and their crazy sex lives.

Posted by: MarcMyWords | February 9, 2011 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Lee is now free to date; less 50% of his wealth.

Posted by: ginabw | February 9, 2011 6:38 PM | Report abuse

You know what? Good on Rep. Lee for fessing up, and just getting out. Too many elected officials try to sidestep their social indiscretions, or make their decisions in a protracted manner.

Interestingly, though, the end result of this system by which officials' dirty laundry goes to press overnight is that only two kinds of politicians can remain: those who do not engage in such behavior (they exist, no snark here) and those who are exceptionally good at hiding it. The latter are probably exceptionally good at hiding a lot of things, and I'm not sure that's what we want.

Posted by: benchatt | February 9, 2011 6:39 PM | Report abuse

So how does that conversion go at home?
Honey - I got caught cheating (or trying to cheat) on you - but it is OK because I quit my job....

Posted by: TomKski | February 9, 2011 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Compared to other Republican sex scandals this seems rather tame. So, why would he resign so quickly? My guess is that there is something else that was sure to come out if he stayed in office, something more sinister, more dark, twisted and perverse. Well, we can only hope...

Posted by: codexjust1 | February 9, 2011 6:41 PM | Report abuse

GOP wifies are pretty tough. Any bets on whether he loses his,uh, shirt?

Posted by: goyo1588 | February 9, 2011 6:41 PM | Report abuse

GOP wifies are pretty tough. Any bets on whether he loses his,uh, shirt?

Posted by: goyo1588 | February 9, 2011 6:42 PM | Report abuse

I guess Capehart forgot about Barney Frank...his boyfriend running an escort service from the apartment they shared. And Barney's still a member of congress. But maybe Capehart is experiencing some of that convenient intermittent amnesia. Or is it deeper...?

Posted by: ddnfla | February 9, 2011 6:45 PM | Report abuse

Also, one can only hope that Senator Vitter (R-LA) would learn by Mr. Lee’s good example...

Posted by: codexjust1 | February 9, 2011 6:46 PM | Report abuse

That's it? Some adolescent muscle shots and some online flirting?

I despise Republicans, but even I can't see the scandal in this.

He should have owned up to it and, asked his wife publically for forgiveness and moved on. I doubt the voters care much.

Posted by: EnemyOfTheState | February 9, 2011 6:51 PM | Report abuse

I think it's sort of a shame/blessing this didn't play out a bit more.

Maybe he had no intention of meeting her and just sends flirty emails to folks on CL every now and again to get some pics, attention, and maybe even some validation... which, would explain the apparent lack of any serious attempt to conceal his identity.

Maybe not... maybe if she would've sent a few more emails, we'd have a crotch shot and be able to pass judgment with a bit more info.

Posted by: djbf | February 9, 2011 6:51 PM | Report abuse

MarcMyWords wrote: "If Republicans wern't totally obsessed with running every else's bedroom I would have to agree with nb56...but seeing how the GOP want's to control everyone else's lovelife this is just plain out funny. Gingrich, Ensign, Craig, Foley...love thise wacky Republicans and their crazy sex lives."

----------------------------------------------

I agree. It's not the behavior, it's the hypocrisy of the Republican politicians that makes them so disgusting. These are the scumbags that are always claiming they're defending the "sanctity of marriage."

Posted by: KROVE1 | February 9, 2011 6:52 PM | Report abuse

The only part of the story above that shocks me is tht Maureen O'Connor thinks a 34 year old woman is middle aged. Boy, she has a lot to learn!

Posted by: ElRosas | February 9, 2011 6:55 PM | Report abuse

"He was accused of sending muscle photos of himself to young men in his suburban Atlanta megachurch."

That's the part I love. Last time I checked, those megachurches were filled with folks who want to tell everybody else how to live their lives and feel entitled to do so because they pay big bucks into these cash gobbling sucker bait factories. What would Jesus say?

Posted by: bugbuster1 | February 9, 2011 6:58 PM | Report abuse

It's interesting that ex-Rep. Lee was so insistent on learning which particular e-mails Gawker had. I agree with codexjust1; there must be more, and much more damaging, stuff out there.

But what happens now? Is there a special election, or does Gov. Cuomo (a Democrat) get to appoint a replacement?

Posted by: Itzajob | February 9, 2011 7:01 PM | Report abuse

@mb56-

Umm, let me spell it out for you: he's a married-with-family Republican pol who got caught-out trolling for chicks on CL. I'm not sure what else there is to say, except he seems to have panicked thinking about what his reception is going to be like at home, and probably could easily have saved his seat. Even wide-stance Larry Craig stuck it out for the rest of his term.

I'll say, tho, that blaming the woman involved, and calling her "selfish" for "destroying his career" is blaming the messenger at best, and idiotic at worst. Lee did this all by and to himself, and I'm sure the constituents in his district are happy to know who they voted for. And won't vote for again. Well done, CL woman, and may you find the love you desire so!

Posted by: powermatic | February 9, 2011 7:02 PM | Report abuse

This is the Darwinian approach to Congressional superiority, wherein the less intelligent less likely survive. Any pics of the fellow at a Church breakfast?

Posted by: Martial | February 9, 2011 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Please understand: It is not so much what he did, it is the fact that he is another right-wing, self-righteous HYPOCRITE. Stop pretending to be such staunch holier-than-thou Christians, better than everyone else, especially Democrats.

If it weren't for that, no one would pay this any attention. Kudos to him for not dragging it out. Go home and take your punishment. No doubt he'll be back, all redeemed in God's eyes, reading to start criticizing Democrats again as immoral and Godless.

Posted by: Victoria27 | February 9, 2011 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Lee's screw up was easily survivable.

There was no underaged prostitute, homosexual sex, or sexual intercourse involved. Just some online flirting.

His bare chest does not make his undoing in anyone's book, except maybe Capehart's. Heck, Obama's bare chest was considered a big media coup in the campaign... a feat Hillary could not match anyway.

Not every unhappy man is unhappy by his own choice or fault.

Posted by: blasmaic | February 9, 2011 7:34 PM | Report abuse

Rep. Lee and Gov. Sanford can now double date! I agree with MarcMyWords...if Republicans weren't so sanctimonious about their "family values" judgments on others, then this story would be a non-issue. Republicans love to use social issues to show how superior they are to those liberal, Godless Democrats..."the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman" they often preach... bla bla bla...

Posted by: logcabin1836 | February 9, 2011 7:36 PM | Report abuse

the lying cheating baggers think they are the only americans that believe in the sanctity of marriage and christian family values, that's why they tap their feet in men's restrooms, have babies a 16 without benefit of marriage,and send topless and bottomless pics via the internet.
the repugs think they know the true definition of marriage, and who should have that privilege, they are WRONG!

Posted by: ninnafaye | February 9, 2011 7:38 PM | Report abuse

He seems to be the latest in a line of politicians who shoot themselves in the foot (or higher) and thereby manage to escape the burden of elected office. True; they are also in the doghouse at home; but I can only assume that answering to the wife is a hell of a lot easier than answering to the constituents. Could it be that public office should be more like jury duty -- no possible escape?

Posted by: brideyfearn | February 9, 2011 7:48 PM | Report abuse

First, I hate the word the word CONSTITUENTS and worse always being referred to as one by elected officials.
Second, where do we get these queer (meaning strange and odd) people to represent the American people and our best interests?

Posted by: mamaTrain | February 9, 2011 7:49 PM | Report abuse

Do you *really* wish him luck, or are you giddy that you have something interesting to write about other than Sarah Palin?

Posted by: diehardlib | February 9, 2011 7:53 PM | Report abuse

A male RePugnican chasing a woman? That IS news.

Posted by: hairguy01 | February 9, 2011 9:20 PM | Report abuse

To MB: The big deal is that he's married; which means somewhere along the way he gave a solemn oath to his wife'; which means he has been unfaithful to his wife, his marriage vows, his children(?); and to his constituents who thought he'd be busy doing their and the country's business. So he got exactly what he deserved and I'm surprised you couldn't figure that out for yourself.

Posted by: MWilson38 | February 9, 2011 9:48 PM | Report abuse

To MB: The big deal is that he's married; which means somewhere along the way he gave a solemn oath to his wife'; which means he has been unfaithful to his wife, his marriage vows, his children(?); and to his constituents who thought he'd be busy doing their and the country's business. So he got exactly what he deserved and I'm surprised you couldn't figure that out for yourself.

Or maybe you feel that sort of behavior is OK; I am sorry for anyone who loves you...

Posted by: MWilson38 | February 9, 2011 9:50 PM | Report abuse

It took some doing, but here's three monumental Chris Lee speeches the Congressional Record holds:

[Congressional Record: March 16, 2010 (House)]
HEALTH CARE REFORM

(Mr. LEE of New York asked and was given permission to address the
House for 1 minute.)
Mr. LEE of New York. Within days, the House is poised to vote on a massive government takeover of health care. This trillion dollar, 2,000-page monstrosity will kill jobs, increase our debt, and raise taxes on working Americans. And it's a ``pay now, buy later'' approach: While the taxes start right away, the benefits don't begin until 2014.
In essence, this new entitlement program requires 10 years of new tax increases and 10 years of cuts to popular programs like Medicare Advantage to pay for just 6 years of this new government expansion over health care. It's a smoke-and-mirrors approach to ram through a new entitlement we surely can't afford to pay.
The American people aren't that easily deceived. The people in my district of western New York want tangible solutions in taking real costs out. We need to start over.

[Congressional Record: May 5, 2010 (House)

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express the need for an extension to the section 45G short line railroad tax credit which expired at the end of 2009. The expiration of this tax credit means that railroads, such as Rochester & Southern in my district, have had to curtail much needed maintenance to their infrastructure. The
expiration of this tax credit affects nearly 500 lines across the country.
Originally enacted in 2004, section 45G ensures that the lighter density freight lines can invest enough in their infrastructure to stay connected to the national rail networks. With the discontinuation of this tax credit, railroads such as Rochester & Southern will be unable to do effective long-term capital planning.
Having run a business myself, I know how difficult it can be for a company to plan and to invest when continued uncertainty exists in how their expenses will be offsoffset. That's why we need to pass an extension of the section 45G tax credit now, so we can put people back to work and so we can provide stability for both the workers and the companies which manage the nearly 500 short line rails across this country.

_______

That's the best he had. Not any debate or even any comment by anyone else.

Posted by: Martial | February 9, 2011 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Kind of depressing to have spent all that money and effort to acquire a Congressional seat, only to be remembered solely as a denizen of C-Span, watched at most by 1,000 insomniacs at 3:00 am who successfully achieved their sleep goals.

Posted by: Martial | February 9, 2011 10:04 PM | Report abuse

The party of Christian family values strikes again!

Posted by: sgtpepper23 | February 9, 2011 11:23 PM | Report abuse

Chris Lee's fictitious description of himself on Craigslist was oddly prescient: soon enough he probably WILL be divorced, and probably a lobbyist to boot.

Posted by: HughBriss | February 9, 2011 11:25 PM | Report abuse

I really enjoy your commentary on TV--but I must say that your writing is sorely lacking. Kinda reminds me of high school journalism.

Posted by: jerrythomasart | February 10, 2011 12:47 AM | Report abuse

Lee didn't need to resigned. The man should've been judged on how he's doing his office job, not on what he does outside his office. The problem is Americans love, LOVE gossip, and pointing fingers and throwing stones especially at public figures. These people are/could be very good at their office job, doing a lot of good and just because somebody down the road discovers some dirt on them, they have to quit. Lee is not a pedophile, a criminal, or anything like that. He just posted his bare torso pictures on craigslist to befriend women - yeah, bad decision from him, but he needs to sort this out with his wife not with the whole country. Judge him by how good of a job he did in the office. Let's look at the big, important picture here, and not get lost in puny details.

Posted by: 1bigpicture | February 10, 2011 7:26 AM | Report abuse

I'm sure my posting will create an avalanche of comments.

Posted by: 1bigpicture | February 10, 2011 7:28 AM | Report abuse

This has become some typical of the hypocritcal, moralising, right wingers, who have hijacked the GOP. Another phony bites the dust.

Posted by: jamann1 | February 10, 2011 9:41 AM | Report abuse

This has become so typical of the hypocritical, moralising, right wingers, who have hijacked the GOP. Another phony bites the dust. Family values at its purest.

Posted by: jamann1 | February 10, 2011 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Yes Thank God he resigned !

If he had committed adultery, been a former KKK member, left someone to die in his car, or bankrupted a State or a city... like many a liberal Democrat... he'd still be in Congress and likely a presidential candidate !

Posted by: pvilso24 | February 10, 2011 10:20 AM | Report abuse

34 is middle aged? I must be dead.

Posted by: markfromark | February 10, 2011 10:35 AM | Report abuse

What he did was morally wrong, but not illegal, as far as I can tell from the news reports. It's not like he lied under oath about whether he had contacted that woman or had sent her a shirtless picture. So, on that basis, it seems like he could have stayed, if he wanted to. But it seems clear that he realized that he had big problems in his life if he was trolling Craigslist trying to befriend women and lying about his age, occupation and marital status. Fixing whatever is wrong in his life will probably take some time and effort, and will almost certainly detract from his ability to serve his constituents. Plus, if he stayed in Congress, his efforts to fix his life would be ripe for public consumption. I wish him luck on fixing his life.

Posted by: jeffdc1 | February 10, 2011 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Oh please...I'm a conservative but anyone defending this guy needs to stop right now. The only thing he did right was to resign quickly in order to limit the exposure/embarrassment to his family and the Republican party. Do you really think that this was the first such email he sent? Does a married man sending shirtless photos of himself to a random woman on Craigslist (who is advertising that she is seeking a love connection) really seem in any way innocent to anyone? Really?
This "man" was obviously too stupid and reckless to serve in Congress and the people of his district are well rid of him. Sheesh, people used more discretion back in the day than they do now when any fool with a computer can find out your life story within thirty seconds or less. He used his own name; told her he was from D.C.; and conveniently sent a photo so she would be left with no doubt when she googled him and came up with a congressman by the same name.

The only people I feel sorry for (besides his probable soon to be ex-wife and the young son who will someday read about all this) are the members of his staff who soon will be unemployed through no fault of their own. The man just took the oath of office in January. Everybody is fully staffed and there hasn't been time for many job openings to appear. Just more collateral damage I guess. Shameful.

Posted by: KatieAtl | February 10, 2011 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Looks like he's not gonna have sex with anybody for awhile.

Posted by: FLvet | February 10, 2011 11:37 AM | Report abuse

@mb56, on whom many here have already pounced:

Seriously??

Let us grant for the sake of argument alone your point that we as a society suffer from an excess of prudishness (and many, many folks would argue the opposite--but that's another fight for another day). But you're turning ex-Rep. Lee into a victim. Sorry. Won't fly. He lied to his intended paramour, and in the bargain to his spouse and family and his constituents. He got caught. The "catcher" isn't the culprit (and this doesn't seem like a case of entrapment--that could change things).

Whether or not he should have resigned is quite frankly a separate question. Maybe his wife might have stood by him (why is another question) and said, "Look, I'm going to slap the snot out of Chris and cut him off for a year, but he's a good congressman--keep him on the job!" That's not as fanciful as it sounds: remember Hillary Clinton?

By resigning Lee made a choice to not be a problem for his constituents, a choice lots of folks agree with. But does that make Lee a victim? Naaaaaaaaaah . . . .

Posted by: post_reader_in_wv | February 10, 2011 12:16 PM | Report abuse

he also lied to his internet friend about his age.
repugs should leave the family values platform alone, we wouldn't get on them so hard when they, jump on women, men and children for sexual gratification sometimes interchangablly.
baggers you can't tell people how to live their lives.

Posted by: ninnafaye | February 10, 2011 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company