Chris Lee is officially no longer a Congressman. The New York Republican, formerly representing the 26th district, resigned his office Wednesday (Read Lee’s statement, below) after GAWKER published a report detailing an e-mail exchange that began when Lee responded to a Craigslist personal ad.
From Maureen O’Connor’s Feb. 9 GAWKER piece:
On the morning of Friday, January 14, a single 34-year-old woman put an ad in the “Women for Men” section of Craigslist personals. “Will someone prove to me not all CL men look like toads?” she asked, inviting “financially & emotionally secure” men to reply.
That afternoon, a man named Christopher Lee replied…
By email, Lee identified himself as a 39-year-old divorced lobbyist and sent a PG picture to the woman from the ad. (In fact, Lee is married and has one son with his wife. He’s also 46.)
Their exchange was brief, cut short when the woman Googled her respondent’s name. Upon discovering that Lee was neither a lobbyist, nor divorced, she forwarded the e-mails to GAWKER. There you’ll find the self-taken photograph of the New York Congressman standing shirtless and subtly flexed along with the full-text of the correspondence.
What’s remarkable, here, is not the photo or the “relatively banal” e-mails. Rather, it’s how quickly we went from the story breaking to the announcement of Lee’s resignation – all within a single afternoon.
Republican leadership must have been pleased with the speed of Lee’s departure. Now they can get on with finding someone to run for his seat.
The date for the special election has yet to be determined but the GOP leaders needn’t fret. New York’s 26th district is solidly Republican, and, though it’s embarrassing (or humorous, depending on your perspective), Lee’s indiscretion isn’t likely to change that.
Here’s Lee’s statement to his constituents, via YNN:
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.
Here’s video of Lee’s resignation being read on the House floor, via TPM: