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Her name is Yesha Callahan, the formerly anonymous single mother whose "women seeking men" Craigslist ad last month inspired married Rep. Chris Lee (R-N.Y.) to tell her he was a divorced lobbyist, send her a topless muscle photo of himself and, on Wednesday, to quit Congress just hours after Gawker.com went public with the story.
Meanwhile House Speaker John Boehner said Lee's lightning-speed resignation was the result of a personal jump, not a leadership shove.
The two-term GOP rising star "made his own decision that he thought was in his best interests and the interests of his family," Boehner said at his regular weekly news conference on Thursday. But he wouldn't discuss whether he spoke with Lee once the story broke. He also wouldn't say whether he warned Lee and a few other very social, younger Republicans last year about their after-hours partying with female lobbyists, as reported by Roll Call (which maintains a paywall for stories).
"My conversations with members are private and they will remain that way," he said. "I believe that members of Congress should be held to the highest ethical standard. That's what the American people expect."
An ethical standard is apparently what Callahan, 34, expected too, when Lee answered her ad last month. What the University of Maryland faculty specialist and mother of preteen son did not expect was the media firestorm once she went namelessly public, she told the Washington Post.
Callahan said she outed Lee -- who asked for a revealing photo of her in return for his shirtless pic -- on the advice of friends after learning via Facebook he was married. "I assumed that other people have probably come across him as well, and he had lied to them. I felt annoyance at just the audacity of people thinking that they're not going to get found out when they are lying."
After sharing her story with Gawker, she continued to bash Lee anonymously on TheLoop.21.com. She doesn't explain why she decided to allow herself to be named in the Post but confesses she frets about its effect on her career, family and personal life.
Callahan, described by TheLoop as a "leggy glamazon," said she got about 30 responses to her personals ad. She requested photos from respondents to weed out the "trolls." But the Lee experience "soured me a bit" on Craigslist dating. In fact, once the Congressman asked her to reveal more of herself in the next photo, "I was kind of like, okay, no, he's just looking for things I'm not interested in."
For his part, Boehner wouldn't take the bait when asked whether the Capitol Hill lifestyle (translation: spouses living back in the home district, members fawned over by staff and lobbyists in D.C.) caused members to stray.
"I wouldn't know," he said.
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