Rep. Christopher Lee, a married Republican congressman from New York, abruptly resigned Wednesday evening after he was confronted about personal ads posted to the online classifieds site Craigslist.
According to Gawker, the now ex-congressman used Craiglist's "Women Seeking Men" forum to advertise himself as a divorced "lobbyist" and "fit fun classy guy."
On Friday, Jan. 14, Lee reportedly sent images of himself to a supposedly single 34-year-old woman looking a "financially & emotionally secure" man. After exchanged flirtatious emails, Lee forwarded a topless photo of himself posing with flexing muscles.
When the woman searched online for Christopher Lee, she realized the congressman had lied about his age and occupation. She then forwarded her correspondence to Gawker.
On Tuesday, Gawker said they contacted Rep. Lee whose spokesman confirmed the email account used in the exchange was indeed the congressman's:
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 email 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 had to access the photos on Lee's phone. 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."The Congressman is happily married," said Lee's spokesman when pressed for answers to our questions. "The only time he or his wife posted something online was to sell old furniture when they changed the apartment they keep in DC."
On Wednesday, Gawker caused a stir online, posting both the images and correspondence.
When Fox News asked the congressman to comment on the story, he said he was not willing to talk about the issue. "I have to work this out with my wife," he added.
By Wednesday evening, Lee had announced he was resigning from Congress. A statement from Lee posted to his website read:
"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."