The Washington Post

Memphis congressman: Deleted State of the Union tweets went to daughter

Tennessee Rep. Steve Cohen (D) is confirming a 24-year-old woman with whom he exchanged tweets on the night of the State of the Union address is, in fact, his daughter, whom he only learned about three years ago. Cohen, 63, is unmarried and has no other children.

Cohen sent -- then deleted -- tweets to a Houston woman, an aspiring model and actress -- including one that read, "Nice to know you were watchin SOTU Happy Valentines beautiful girl. Ilu."

On the Internet, "Ilu" typically stands for "I love you" or "I like you."

After the deleted messages between Cohen and the woman emerged, his spokesman claimed she was the daughter of a close family friend whom Cohen has known his whole life. The executive director of the Tennessee Republican Party then issued a statement labeling Cohen the "Anthony Weiner of the South," referring to the New York congressman who resigned after accidentally tweeting a picture of his crotch to a woman.

Cohen said this evening that, in fact, he knew the woman's mother a long time ago and had lost contact with her for many years, until he googled her a few years ago and saw she had a daughter. "I saw the date of the child’s birth and realized it was a pretty strong possibility it was my child."

He then friended the woman on Facebook -- "I didn't know much about Facebook then, just like I obviously don't know much about Twitter now." After reconnecting with the woman's mother, he has slowly built a relationship with his daughter, who has visited him several times in Washington.

"I'm very proud of her," he said in an interview. "I'm thrilled to have a relationship with her."

Cohen said he intended to send the notes as private messages but accidentally blasted them publicly.

He said he had been trying to protect his daughter's privacy before an avalanche of Internet speculation began about the tweets. "My daughter had to experience that. It’s awful. Bloggers and people saying nasty things. It's disgusting."

Rosalind Helderman is a political enterprise and investigations reporter for the Washington Post.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
Making family dinnertime happen
Deaf banjo player teaches thousands
New limbs for Pakistani soldiers
Play Videos
A veteran finds healing on a dog sled
Learn to make this twice-baked cookie
How to prevent 'e-barrassment'
Play Videos
Syrian refugee: 'I’m committed to the power of music'
The art of tortilla-making
Michael Bolton's cinematic serenade to Detroit
Play Videos
Circus nuns: These sisters are no act
5 ways to raise girls to be leaders
Cool off with sno-balls, a New Orleans treat
Next Story
Rachel Weiner · February 14, 2013

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.