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Congressman Christopher Lee (R-NY) resigns after Craigslist photos, flirting allegations emerge

Rep. Chris Lee (R-N.Y.) resigned from the House Wednesday evening effective immediately, an announcement that came just hours after a Web site reported that the married congressman had sent a shirtless image of himself to a woman he met on Craigslist.

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Compiled by Ian Saleh
Washington Post Staff
Thursday, February 10, 2011; 10:57 AM

Congressman Chrisopher Lee resigned abruptly Wednesday, as Chris Cillizza reported:

Rep. Chris Lee (R-N.Y.) resigned from the House Wednesday evening effective immediately, an announcement that came just hours after a Web site reported that the married congressman had sent a shirtless image of himself to a woman he met on Craigslist.

"I regret the harm that my actions have caused my family, my staff and my constituents," Lee said in a statement announcing his resignation. "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."

Lee's decision to vacate his Upstate New York seat came after Gawker, a gossip Web site, posted the shirtless image and what it said was correspondence between him and a 34-year-old woman.

Chris Lee moved quickly to resign after Gawker's expose was posted, as David Fahrenthold and Aaron Blake reported:

Lee experienced his fall from grace in a single afternoon, undone at the speed of the digital age. At lunchtime Wednesday, he was an obscure but promising second-term congressman. Then, at 2:33 p.m., the Web site Gawker posted an alleged e-mail exchange between a man who used Lee's name - but identified himself as a divorced lobbyist - and an unidentified woman. Gawker reported that the two had met through the personals section of Craigslist.

After that, the familiar cycles of a Washington sex scandal were compressed into a blur of tweets and news alerts. There was confusion, a hint of denial, then a pledge from Lee to "work it out" with his wife.

By 6 p.m., a clerk was announcing Lee's resignation in the House chamber.

Jonathan Capehart explained how this scandal came to light:

Rules of Life No. 234,232: Nothing good comes from a grown man doing muscle poses in front of the mirror and capturing them in photos taken by a handheld device. The poster poser for this rule since last September has been Bishop Eddie Long. He was accused of sending muscle photos of himself to young men in his suburban Atlanta megachurch. Well Wednesday Long might have been supplanted by a member of Congress.

One particular woman apparently found "Christopher" attractive (especially after being sent said shirtless muscle pose photo) and chatted him up. Nothing risque. In fact, the alleged e-mails back and forth between the two are rather charming in their own way. But according to the Web site, she told Gawker she ended communication when she discovered who he really was. Not only did she get ticked. She got even -- by handing the missives over to Gawker, which ran them. And then Maureen O'Connor, the Gawker writer who penned the story, posed the $100 million question: "So did the married Republican prowl Craiglist looking for hook ups?"

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