As good as it felt to flex those muscles for his Smartphone, Congressman Chris Lee is probably regretting the moment he snapped this incredible self-portrait. Last night, Lee resigned from the U.S. House of Representatives in a press release that stated: "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."
You guessed it: the mistake was that photo. Here's what happened, according to Gawker, the site that broke the story:
"On the morning of Friday, January 14, a single 34-year-old woman put an ad in the 'Women for Men' section of Craigslist personals. 'Will someone prove to me not all CL men look like toads?' she asked, inviting 'financially & emotionally secure' men to reply. That afternoon, a man named Christopher Lee replied. He used a Gmail account that Rep. Christopher Lee has since confirmed to be his own."
Lee, a married 46-year-old two-term Republican with a young son, attached a cleaner cut photo than the one above and wrote: "Hope I'm not a toad. Live in Cap Hill area. 6ft 190lbs blond/blue 39. lobbyist. i promise not to disappoint."
"Are you sure that's not a photo from a JC Penney ad?" responded the woman who received the photo.
"lol no. here is one of me relaxing at home," wrote Lee in return, attaching the above photo and clicking send.
First of all: not a very relaxed looking photo. Second of all: big mistake.
A flirty email exchange ensues as Lee continues the ruse that he's younger, divorced, and on the dating market. But when the woman he's corresponding with searches his name online and discovers his true identity, she forwards the chain to Gawker. By last night, Lee was out of a job and things at home were presumably worse.
Sadly, the family is always the victim of political sex scandals. Lee's young son and wife will have to pay for his poor judgment. Make that shockingly poor judgment. ("Go get tested," the anonymous emailer advised Lee's wife in an interview today).
During the Client No. 9 scandal, the question was raised: "Why do so many politicians cheat?" But the real question is, why do so many politicians cheat so stupidly? Why would Eliot Spitzer turn to an escort service to cheat, an illegal practice he had so vehemently opposed? Why would Gov. Sanford profess his sexual desires to his mistress over traceable email? And why on earth would a politician put his career in the hands of a stranger he met on Craigslist?
One explanation is that the desire to win over a constituency, even one on Craigslist, clouds judgment. "Politicians are different," sociologist Pepper Schwartz told USA today during Spitzer's Scandal. "How many of us would have the desire, much less the ability, to promote ourselves ceaselessly? You have to do that as a politician. It's an amazing level of self-love … and a need for affirmation."
Unfortunately, the only affirmation Lee got was that he looks like he's a JC Penney catalog model.