Rep. Chris Lee, R-NY, has resigned, saying he regretted the harm that my actions caused his family, staff and constituents, on the same day that an online publication published a story saying he flirted with a woman who posted a personal ad on Craigslist, sending a shirtless photo of himself.
It has been a tremendous honor to serve the people of Western New York, Lee said in a released statement.
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, he added.
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, he said.
On Wednesday afternoon online site Gawker published the story of a 34-year old woman who says she put an ad in the Women for Men section of Craigslist personals. The ad was dated January 14, 2011.
The e-mails the woman received in response to the ad - reportedly coming on the same it was posted - came from someone named Christopher Lee using an e-mail associated with the Representative's Facebook account, Gawker said.
Hope I'm not a toad. :) i'm a very fit fun classy guy. Live in Cap Hill area. 6ft 190lbs blond/blue. 39.. Lobbyist. I promise not to disappoint, Lee wrote.
In the ad, Lee identified himself as a 39-year old lobbyist. Later, Lee sent another photo, this time shirtless and flexing for the camera. Several of the e-mail messages included statements by Lee that he was divorced, had a date a few weeks earlier and had a daughter.
The woman says she contacted Gawker when she searched for Lee online and concluded that he had lied about his age and occupation, according to the report.
Gawker says it contacted Lee's office on Tuesday. A spokesman said Lee deleted his Facebook account after Gawker's initial inquiry due to privacy concerns.
Initially, Lee asked for all the e-mails in question, which Gawker refused to send. Then the Congressman's spokesperson said Lee believed he had been hacked, sending an e-mail which was apparently sent to staff about a security breach on January 21.
The spokesman said Lee was happily married and that the only online postings Lee or his wife had made were to sell furniture when they changed apartments they kept in the capital.