Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) has become the latest member of Congress to run into Twitter trouble after a lewd photo was sent from his account on the microblogging site Friday night.
The photo, which was taken from the waist down and shows a man in bulging gray underwear, was first reported early Saturday by BigGovernment.com, the Web site of conservative commentator Andrew Breitbart.
The Web site reported that the message containing a link to the photo was tweeted to the Twitter handle of a woman who is a journalism student in Seattle, and that the student apparently deleted her Twitter and Facebook pages after the incident.
Soon after the photo was posted on Weiner’s Twitter account, it was deleted, BigGovernment.com reported, along with the other photos in the seven-term congressman’s yfrog.com photo account.
In tweets after the photos were deleted, Weiner, 46, said that his account had been hacked and jokingly brushed off the incident.
“Tivo shot. FB hacked. Is my blender gonna attack me next? #TheToasterIsVeryLoyal,” read one tweet.
“Touche Prof Moriarity. More Weiner Jokes for all my guests! #Hacked!” he wrote later.
“This is intended to be a distraction, and we’re not going to let it become one,” Dave Arnold, a Weiner spokesman, said Sunday. “Anthony’s accounts were obviously hacked. He doesn’t know the person named by the hacker, and we will be consulting on what steps to take next.”
On Sunday evening, the woman, Gennette Nicole Cordova, released a lengthy statement indicating that an unnamed Twitter user other than Weiner was likely behind the photo.
“The account that these tweets were sent from was familiar to me; this person had harassed me many times after the Congressman followed me on Twitter a month or so ago,” the statement read in part. “Since I had dealt with this person and his cohorts before I assumed that the tweet and the picture were their latest attempts at defaming the Congressman and harassing his supporters.”
Cordova, who described herself in the statement as a 21-year-old college student from Seattle, said that “there have never been any inappropriate exchanges between Anthony Weiner and myself, including the tweet/picture in question, which had apparently been deleted before it reached me.”
She added that “the last 36 hours have been the most confusing, anxiety-ridden hours of my life.”
“I’ve watched in sheer disbelief as my name, age, location, links to any social networking site I’ve ever used, my old phone numbers and pictures have been passed along from stranger to stranger,” she wrote. “My friends have received phone calls from people claiming to be old friends of mine, attempting to obtain my contact information. My siblings have received tweets that are similar in nature. ... All of this is so outlandish that I don’t know whether to be pissed off or amused, quite frankly.”
Arnold also said that Weiner had received a message from Facebook last week warning him that someone might have been trying to hack his password but that the congressman ignored the message, according to the New York Post.
“Heading to 30 Rock to chat with Rachel at 9. #Thats545InSeattleIThink,” Weiner wrote in the earlier tweet, which is still on his Twitter feed.
Weiner, who ran for New York mayor in 2005 and is considered the top contender in the 2013 race to succeed Michael Bloomberg, last year married Huma Abedin, a former top aide to then-Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) during the 2008 presidential campaign. Abedin now works as senior adviser to Clinton at the State Department.
Weiner is well known for his outspoken liberal views and his dry wit. A frequent presence on cable news and an avid Twitter user, he used a March speech at the Congressional Correspondents Dinner to poke fun at his larger-than-life personality, airing a video that featured clips of the congressman getting into heated exchanges with various cable news commentators.
In the wake of “Weiner-gate,” the lawmaker made light of the number of new Twitter followers that he had gained since the incident.
“Thanks to all my new followers im drawing close to Bachmann. #ScrappyChasingCrazy,” he tweeted on Saturday.
Before the photo surfaced on Weiner’s Twitter feed Friday, the New York Democrat had been tweeting about a hockey game.