“I didn’t want to be known for this,” the 23-year-old told us Saturday. “I was a huge fan and admired him a lot.”
Instead of rock stars or actors, Leathers is into politicians, and she recalls first spotting Weiner on cable television. “He’d give these hyperbolic speeches on the House floor,” she said. “I was so impressed by them. He was so passionate, and it made me feel we cared about the same things.” When Weiner resigned in 2011, she sent him a Facebook message to express her disappointment in his behavior.
And that was that — until he wrote back in the summer of 2012 to apologize for letting her down. The two quickly began an “emotional” affair — she liked his intellect, his charm, their banter and chemistry. “He had me wrapped around his finger because he knew I had him on a pedestal,” she said. “Honestly, I was flattered to get attention from him.”
At first, they wrote or talked every day — soon with risque texts, explicit photos and phone sex. “I’ve never met anyone with an ego like that. It was all about him.” The relationship was their hot, guilty secret, though the two never met in person, but it was over by the end of last year.
Then, in April, Weiner called to get her reaction to a flattering New York Times profile of himself and his wife, Huma Abedin. Leathers said that it was fine, but the next day, Weiner e-mailed to say that his brother wanted to know whether she was upset. That scared her, because she was unaware that his brother even knew about the affair. “The whole situation,” she said, “freaked me out.”
She said that she finally decided to expose Weiner’s hypocrisy as the mayoral campaign heated up. “I was proof he hadn’t changed. I felt voters deserved the truth.” She intended to release the information anonymously: No rival mayoral campaign approached her and she said she wasn’t looking for money, or she “would have sold the photos and the text transcripts.” She insists that she never asked for or received a dime from Weiner.
But Leathers’s motives and reputation have taken a serious blow with the revelation that the unemployed law researcher frequented a couple of sugar-daddy sites in the past and is now considering “tons of offers” to appear in a porn movie. “I’m still figuring that out,” she told us vaguely — despite reports that a deal might be announced as early as this week. (Update, 8 am: Oh, now, here we go)
She hasn’t spoken to Weiner in months, but Leathers said that she’s still a fan of politicians such as Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders or Rep. Alan Grayson.
But lesson learned: She has no plans to contact any of them. “I definitely believe you’re not supposed to meet your heroes,” she said. “It really rings true now.”