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What a Republican Lawmaker Is Holding in This Now-Viral Photo Has Led to a Slew of 'Vicious Emails' and a Public Apology

"It wasn’t like I wasn’t paying attention to what was going on."

A photo of an Iowa state lawmaker staring at a copy of a book titled "Sex After Sixty" as his peers debated the collective bargaining rights of public school teachers on Tuesday has spread across social media.

Republican state Rep. Ross Paustian says that as a result, he's been fielding some "vicious emails" from constituents who are less than content that he was peering at the book while lawmakers hashed through official business.

"I’m getting a lot of pretty vicious emails from people, so I have to explain. The main thing is I was totally engaged in what was going on on the floor," Paustian, 59, told KCRG-TV. "I knew what was going on. I knew how we were going to vote on amendments. So it wasn’t like I wasn’t paying attention to what was going on."

He said that the copy of "Sex After Sixty" that he was holding was actually a joke gift for fellow Rep. Rob Bacon, who recently turned 60 and who sits next to him. Paustian said he picked the book up and looked at it — and then the photo was snapped.

The lawmaker apologized to offended constituents and said he didn't mean to upset anyone.

"I’m doing my job here for my constituents," he said.

Problems started for Paustian after Des Moines Register statehouse reporter Brianne Pfannenstiel tweeted the picture on Tuesday, writing, "Rep. Paustian clearly engaged in this debate."

Pfannenstiel noted in a follow-up report that "Sex After Sixty" is apparently a gag gift and is filled with blank pages, though the New York Daily News reported that the book is actually a "self-help manual" by Dr. Robert Butler and Myrna Lewis.

(H/T: ABC News)

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