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What started last month with an anonymous woman's Craigslist dating search for men who don't "look like toads" ended Wednesday with the resignation of two-term Rep. Christopher Lee, R-N.Y., a married father who passed himself off as a divorced lobbyist when he sent her a topless muscle photo of himself.
Gawker.com broke the story about the lying lawmaker under the headline "Married GOP Congressman Sent Sexy Pictures to Craigslist Babe."
Within hours, he had quit his $174,000-a-year job and issued this statement:
"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."
Answering a Washington-area "Women for Men" ad last month, Lee described himself as 39, divorced, a lobbyist and a "fit, fun classy guy." And to prove it, he e-mailed the shirtless photo to the unnamed government worker from Maryland.
Once she figured out the man she thought might have been a JC Penney model was actually a 46-year-old congressman, she went to Gawker with copies of their bantering e-mails about bad Craigslist dates.
Lee wouldn't discuss the incident Wednesday afternoon when intercepted by Fox News enroute to his car, saying, "I have to work this out with my wife."
He resigned later in the afternoon. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to set a date for a special election to fill Lee's seat.
For a while it seemed he might try to tough it out. A Lee spokesman earlier told Gawker that Lee believed his e-mail account had been hacked around Jan. 21, although the date on the e-mails containing the topless Blackberry portrait was dated Jan. 14.
In the warp-speed world of online news, the Gawker story was added to Lee's Wikipedia profile by mid-afternoon, though it should be noted that in the case of the fit, fun philanderer, he was answering, not placing, an ad.
"In February of 2011 Representative Chris Lee was found to have been posting personal ads on Craigslist looking for women and lying about his age and marriage after e-mails and risque photos he sent to a woman were uncovered."
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