In yet another Congressman’s embarrassing misuse of Twitter, Republican Representative Steve Cohen of Tennessee was forced to publicly acknowledge that a 24-year-old woman he communicated with over Twitter was his daughter after being scrutinized for tweets he wrote her that he had thought were private.
Cohen, 63, is unmarried and has no other children, but, three years ago, he reportedly discovered that Victoria Brink was his daughter. "I Googled her mother, found out she had a child, and the math looked pretty accurate,” Cohen told NBC News. “The mom told me we had a lot of catching up to do.”
But it wasn’t until after Cohen tweeted Brink by accident during the State of the Union that the public caught wind of their relationship.
“Nice to know you were watchin SOTU Happy Valentines beautiful girl,” Cohen tweeted to the aspiring model and actress, adding, “Ilu,” a popular acronym meaning, “I love you.”
Approximately 15 minutes after he sent the tweets, Cohen deleted them from his Twitter account. But they were not as easily erased from the Web. The website Politwoops, which archives social media blunders by politicians like Cohen, reposted his tweets to Brink.
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By Wednesday, Tennessee Republicans caught onto the scandalous tweets and chastised Cohen for “inappropriate behavior.”
"You would think that after Rep. Weiner was forced to resign due to his inappropriate behavior and use of his official Congressional Twitter account that members of Congress would hold themselves to a higher standard of conduct," Brent Leatherwood, the executive director of the Tennessee Republican Party, said in a statement.
Cohen’s spokesman, Michael Pagan, initially tried to deflect attention away from the tweets after they first gained attention, saying that Brink was just the daughter of a family friend.
"I asked him this morning what was the scoop, and he was, like, 'Well, she's the daughter of a longtime friend, and I consider her like family,’” Pagan told reporters on Wednesday. But on Thursday night, after pressure had continued to mount, Cohen conceded that Brink was his own daughter.
“When she let me know she was watching the State of the Union address, I was thrilled that she wanted Steve Cohen to be part of her. I had such joy that I couldn’t hold back from tweeting her,” he told NBC news.
“I’m very proud of her,” Cohen said in an interview. “I’m thrilled to have a relationship with her. I’ve been able to take her on a tour of the Capitol and the White House; I want her to see my world and be a part of it,” he added.
Brink’s mother is Cynthia White Sinatra, a criminal defense lawyer who unsuccessfully challenged Ron Paul for his seat in Congress in 2006. Cohen would not comment on his affair with Sinatra (whose name comes from her previous marriage to Frank Sinatra, Jr.), except to say that they had been “friends for a long time” and that he had “renewed our friendship when I found out she was the mother of my child,” the Caller reported.
Cohen expressed remorse for bringing unwanted media attention onto Brink, saying, “It’s put us through a very difficult couple of days. And she’s a beautiful, young, 24-year-old girl who has not been put through the grist of gossip and innuendo and influence, and it was painful for me to witness it and to know that it was because she had reached out to me to express her joy at seeing me at the State of the Union.”