Rep. Chris Lee, R-Amherst, resigned from Congress this afternoon after an Internet tabloid published a shirtless picture of him that the married congressman had sent to a Maryland woman on Craigslist.Assorted ridicule here.
Matthew Harakal, Lee's spokesman, confirmed that he had resigned as of 5 p.m. today.
And in a statement released an hour later, Lee said: "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," Lee concluded.
Lee's resignation ends what had been a brief but promising congressional career -- that is, until Gawker, an Internet tabloid, published its story about an email exchange between the congressman and a woman that the tabloid did not name.
The woman provided Gawker with a chain of e-mails in which someone using Lee's Gmail address identified himself as a 39-year-old lobbyist and "a very fit fun classy guy."
Lee is 46.
The photo accompanying that e-mail showed Lee in a baby-blue polo shirt, prompting the woman to reply: "Are you sure that's not a photo from a J.C. Penney ad?"
The reply from Lee's email address said: "Lol...no...Here...I just took one... i'm relaxing at home."
That photo, taken with a BlackBerry, shows Lee shirtless.
And in a later e-mail from the congressman's e-mail address, the writer laments that an earlier date he had gone on did not go well.
"She was not as advertised. Lol," he said. "How do people think you aren't going to figure it out once you see them in person?"
The author later identified himself as "divorced." But according to the Gawker story, the woman then searched for Lee online and found that he was neither divorced nor a lobbyist -- and then decided to forward the e-mails to Gawker.
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