A photo of himself shirtless that U.S. Rep. Christopher Lee allegedly e-mailed to a government employee from Maryland in January led to his resignation just hours after it was posted online Wednesday.
A clerk read the New York Republican's resignation on the House floor Wednesday evening.
Gossip website Gawker posted the photo along with a flirtatious e-mail exchange. The 34-year-old woman, who asked to remain anonymous, posted an ad to Craigslist's "Women for Men" personals. She was asking if there were any men on Craigslist personals who don't look like toads.
In a reply from an e-mail address that, according to Gawker, Lee confirmed was his, the woman was told she'd been contacted by a 39-year-old lobbyist -- a "fit fun classy guy. Live in Cap Hill area." In later e-mails, she was told he was divorced with one son.
The one son matches the congressman's profile, but Lee is 47, still married and not a lobbyist.
In an exclusive interview with Danielle Belton for TheLoop21.com, the government employee from Maryland described her original post as tongue-in-cheek and said she originally thought the photo was fake. She learned she wasn't communicating with a lobbyist when she put the e-mail in Facebook and saw that his employer was Congress.
She said Gawker got in touch with her through a friend and she never expected Lee to resign.
TheLoop21: What's the lesson in all this?
Anonymous: The lesson is if you’re going to do dirt, do it anonymously. People cheat everyday, but only dumb people get caught.
In a statement from Lee Wednesday evening, the congressman didn't confirm the Gawker report, but he was apologetic.
“It has been a tremendous honor to serve the people of Western New York. I regret the harm that my actions have caused my family, my staff and my constituents. 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.
“The challenges we face in Western New York and across the country are too serious for me to allow this distraction to continue, and so I am announcing that I have resigned my seat in Congress effective immediately.”
Lee was first elected in 2008 after becoming a millionaire in his family business of selling motion technologies, according to NBC News.