CAROLYN THOMPSON | February 10, 2011 11:46 AM EST |
CLARENCE, N.Y. — Rep. Christopher Lee of western New York abruptly resigned with only a vague explanation of regret after a gossip website reported that the married congressman had sent a shirtless photo of himself flexing his muscles to a woman whose Craigslist ad he answered.
“I regret the harm that my actions have caused my family, my staff and my constituents,” Lee posted in a surprise announcement Wednesday night on his congressional website. “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.”
A woman described as a 34-year-old Maryland resident and government employee provided the Gawker website with e-mails she said were an exchange between her and Lee in response to an ad she placed last month in the “Women Seeking Men” section of Craigslist.
Gawker reported Wednesday that Lee, 46, identified himself as a divorced 39-year-old lobbyist and sent a photo of himself posing in front of a mirror.
In one e-mail, Gawker said, Lee described himself as “a very fit fun classy guy” and promised “not to disappoint.” He and the woman exchanged a few more messages, talking about recent dates and sharing biographical details.
In one, the site shows, the woman asks Lee if he’s divorced.
Yes, he replied, one minute later.
Maureen O’Connor — Three hours after his shirtless Craigslist antics appeared on this site, Rep. Chris Lee (R-NY) announced his resignation from the U.S. House of Representatives. Moments ago his office sent the following press release to the media:
For Immediate Release: Wednesday, February 9, 2010
Statement from Congressman Chris Lee (NY-26):
“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.”