Boehner: Lee made 'right decision' to resign

Rep. Christopher Lee of 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 to a woman whose Craigslist ad he answered. (Feb. 10)
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 10, 2011; 3:23 PM

House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday called the resignation of Rep. Chris Lee "the right decision," but declined to talk about whether he had advised Lee to go.

Lee, a second-term Republican from western New York, resigned Wednesday just hours after a gossip Web site reported that the married legislator had sent flirtatious emails and a shirtless photo to a woman he met on Craigslist.

"Congressman Lee made his own decision, that he thought was in his best interest, and the interest of his family," Boehner said. Asked to give his account of the fast-unfolding scandal on Wednesday afternoon, Boehner (R-Ohio) listed just two events.

He heard about the report on "And then it was a little after six that I heard he had resigned," Boehner said. "Simple as that."

Boehner also deflected questions about a report in a Capitol Hill newspaper last year, which said he had advised a group of GOP legislators - including Lee - to curb inappropriate behavior with female lobbyists.

"My conversations with members are private, and they will remain that way," Boehner said.

Last year, after Democratic Rep. Eric Massa (N.Y.) resigned in the wake of allegations about sexual harassment, Boehner criticized Democratic leaders, questioning how long they had known Massa was behaving inappropriately.

"It is now readily apparent that Congressman Massa's pattern of troubling behavior continued long after Democrats first became aware of his conduct," Boehner said in a statement last April.

The report last summer, published in Roll Call, said that Boehner had become concerned about a group of congressmen that included Lee. The Roll Call report said this group "regularly party with female lobbyists," and that Boehner had advised them to change their behavior.

That report named another lobbyist, Glenn LeMunyon of the LeMunyon Group, as participating in these events. In a phone interview Thursday morning, LeMunyon said there was "absolutely no truth to that whatsoever.…It's not journalism."

LeMunyon said he knew Lee, but had never seen any inappropriate behavior with women that foreshadowed Wednesday's scandal. "He was an up and coming guy, just got on a great committee," LeMunyon said. "It's sad and maddening all at the same time."

Lee's former spokesman offered no comment this morning: He said he now works not for Lee, but for the House clerk.

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