Karen Ocamb

Another Congressmember with Zipper Itches: Republican Chris Lee Resigns

Filed By Karen Ocamb | February 10, 2011 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Media, Politics
Tags: Chris Lee, Congress, Craigslist ad, Gawker, New York, republican, resignation

Rep. Chris Lee, (R-NY) who was elected to Congress in 2008, repchrislee.jpgresigned Wednesday afternoon after the website Gawker posted a story that included email exchanges and a photo Lee allegedly sent to a single 34-year old woman he found on Craigslist's "Women for Men" section. Lee replied, who is married with one child, described himself as a 39-year-old divorced lobbyist and a "fit fun, classy guy."

From Gawker:

By modern day standards, the conversation was relatively banal: No prostitutes, escorts, or madams were involved. Just good old fashioned lying and an apparent willingness to cheat on one's wife....

Yesterday, we reached out to Rep. Lee, whose support for "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and vote to reject federal abortion funding suggests a certain comfort with publicly scrutinizing others' sex lives.

A spokesman for the Congressman confirmed that the email address belonged to Lee, and that he had deleted his Facebook account because our initial inquiry had him fretting about "privacy." (A screenshot of his account before it vanished is at right.)

So did the married Republican prowl Craiglist looking for hook ups? After first telling us that he couldn't comment until we forwarded every single email in question, a request we refused--shouldn't Lee know if he's corresponded with women on Craigslist?--Lee's spokesman eventually announced that the Congressman believed he'd been hacked, and provided an email he claims Lee sent to his staff about the security breach on January 21....

"The Congressman is happily married," said Lee's spokesman when pressed for answers to our questions. "The only time he or his wife posted something online was to sell old furniture when they changed the apartment they keep in DC."

Whoops. Later Lee released a statement saying:

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.

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Are we all ready to give up these silly rules around sexuality that we've created but no one actually follows? No? It'll take a few more hundred scandals?

OK, then. Carry on, GOP.

one of my facebook friends said something along the lines of, "a STRAIGHT republican sex scandal?!?"

We've had sex scandals involving congressional leaders, et al, for as long as we've had a country. Remember Thomas Jefferson and his slave mistress?

These will never go away. Not only that, but our voyeuristic society eats up the publicity. Lee is just the latest example of someone who, having gained some power, attempts to use that power to coerce someone into a (sexual) relationship with him/her.

Is he all the worse for being perceived as interested in worrying about others' sexual proclivities? That's a tough question to answer, but he certainly doesn't make himself look too good when he has a dalliance while trying to legislate against others' sex habits.

It is dreadful that someone would hack into a Congressman's email account -- and even more shocking that someone would hack into his bedroom, and grab a shot of him posing shirtless with his camera-enabled cell phone in hand ...

What a coincidence! ... Reminds me of all those rumored times early in the morning on the set of Sesame Street when Kermit's middle finger just happened to smell exactly like Miss Piggy ...

If anything, queer people should be taking this opportunity to support the Congressman and his decision to step outside of the confines of the sexual "normalcy" to which so many would like our society to adhere.

How the Honorable Chris Lee carries out his personal life is his business, just as it should be for queer people. When we fight for the right to be sexually free and express our gender as we feel fits our inner selves, we also must advocate for the rights of allies, too.

Whoop dee doo, Congressman Lee wants to explore nonmonogamy. That's no reason to step down. Maybe it's a reason to expose the real views of so-called social conservatives, but it's an opportunity to gain support for personal liberty for queer and nonmonogamous folks in this country.