- Associated Press - Thursday, June 16, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) — Rep. Anthony D. Weiner, New York Democrat, resigned his seat in Congress on Thursday after a two-week scandal spawned by lewd and even X-rated photos that the lawmaker took of himself and sent online to numerous women.

Mr. Weiner announced his resignation at the Council Center for Senior Citizens in the New York borough of Brooklyn.

Mr. Weiner, 46, has been at a treatment facility at an undisclosed location since last weekend and until Thursday had not been seen in public since telling reporters last Saturday that he intended to return to work.

One Democratic official said Mr. Weiner telephoned House Minority Leader Pelosi, California Democrat, and Rep. Steve Israel, New York Democrat, who heads the party’s campaign committee, on Wednesday evening to tell them of his plans to quit. The official spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the private nature of the conversations.

Mr. Weiner‘s decision to give up his House seat marks the end of a scandal without the sex — an event that resulted from the brash New Yorker’s use of social media such as Twitter and Facebook.

He at first denied having sent any inappropriate photos, then recanted in a remarkable news conference 10 days ago at which he admitted having exchanged inappropriate messages with several women.

His confession triggered a tabloid-style frenzy in print and online that only grew more pronounced a few days later when an X-rated photo of the lawmaker surfaced on a website.

After initially calling for a House ethics committee investigation, Mrs. Pelosi dramatically ramped up the pressure on Saturday when she joined with Mr. Israel and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Florida Democrat and chair of the Democratic National Committee, in calling on Mr. Weiner to step down.

Within hours, Mr. Weiner disclosed his plans to enter treatment, and Mrs. Pelosi’s aides made it known that that did not negate her demand for a resignation.

Several officials have said in recent days that Mr. Weiner was reluctant to make any decision about his career without speaking with his wife, Huma Abedin, a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who had been overseas since shortly after the scandal broke. The trip ended Tuesday night.

Mrs. Abedin is pregnant with the couple’s first child.

The seven-term Democrat’s decision to leave Congress marks at least an ignominious pause in, if not an end to, a once-promising career. Mr. Weiner ran for New York mayor in 2005 and had talked of seeking the office again.

His outspoken, in-your-face style cheered liberal supporters and angered conservatives. He even irritated some party leaders in 2009 when he led the charge for a government-run health care system long after the White House had made it clear that President Obama was opposed.

Mr. Weiner‘s district includes parts of the New York boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to call a special election to fill the seat once the congressman submits his resignation.

Mr. Weiner‘s problems began May 28 when BigGovernment.com, a website run by conservative commentator Andrew Breitbart, posted a lewd photograph of an underwear-clad crotch and said it had been sent from Mr. Weiner‘sTwitter account to a Seattle woman.

Initially, Mr. Weiner lied, saying his account had been hacked. But he pointedly did not report the incident to law enforcement — a step that could have led the way to charges of wrongdoing far more serious than mere sexting.

Additionally, his public denials were less than solid — particularly when he told an interviewer that he could not “say with certitude” that he wasn’t the man in the underwear photo.

Mr. Weiner‘s spokesman said the photo was just “a distraction” and that the congressman “doesn’t know the person named by the hacker.”

The congressman denied sending the photo and said he had retained an attorney and hired a private security company to figure out how someone could pull off such a prank.

But Mr. Weiner dropped that story line on June 6, offering a lengthy public confession at a Manhattan news conference, admitting to online activity involving at least six women.

It was a remarkable turn of events for the brash Mr. Weiner, who conceded to a “hugely regrettable” lapse in judgment.

Mr. Weiner said he used his home computer and personal Blackberry, not government computers, in his exchanges with the women. But that might not be protection under House rules that say a member “shall conduct himself at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House.”

Mr. Weiner entered politics as an aide to then-Rep. Charles E. Schumer, who represented parts of Brooklyn. Mr. Weiner served on the New York City Council from 1992 until his election to the House in 1998, taking over the seat vacated by Mr. Schumer when he made his successful Senate bid.

Mr. Weiner‘s racy online escapades were a gift to the New York tabloids. The New York Post labeled the affair “The Battle of the Bulge” and called on Mr. Weiner to “Fall on Your Sword.”

The media spotlight stayed on the congressman, upsetting Democratic Party leaders, who wanted nothing more than to see Mr. Weiner quit the House and bring an end to the sordid affair.

On Friday, the congressman acknowledged he had exchanged private Twitter messages with a 17-year-old girl from Delaware who heard Mr. Weiner speak during a high-school trip to Washington and had become an admirer.

The police were looking into the matter Saturday. Mr. Weiner said there was nothing inappropriate in their messages.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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