- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 9, 2011

Embattled Rep. Anthony D. Weiner defiantly reiterated his stance Thursday that he won’t resign after admitting days earlier to sending a lewd photo online, joining the ranks of other lawmakers who have sought to keep their jobs amid sex-related scandals.

And while a growing bipartisan chorus of Capitol Hill lawmakers has called for the New York Democrat to step down, a majority of his constituents say otherwise, a new poll says.

Mr. Weiner, when confronted outside his lawyer’s office in Manhattan by a New York Post reporter, said the scandal that has plagued him for more than a week isn’t reason enough to give up his House seat.

“I’m not,” the paper reported him saying when asked if he planned to resign. “I’m going to get back to work as best I can.”

But history suggests the lawmaker faces a tough challenge if he hopes to have a long political career, as several high-profile politicians in recent years have had their political lives cut short due to sex scandals.

Nevada Republican Sen. John Ensign in April resigned amid a sex and lobbying scandal followed by a Senate Ethics Committee investigation into the matter.

Republican Rep. Christopher Lee of New York stepped down in February just hours after a website published emails he sent to a woman he met online, including a photo showing him shirtless and flexing a bicep.

Some politicians hit with sex-related scandals refused to resign but decided against running for re-election, including Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, a Republican who left office in January, and former GOP Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho in 2009.

One notable political survivor is Sen. David Vitter. The married Louisiana Republican refused to quit after he admitted in 2007 he was a client of a high-end Washington prostitution ring. He was re-elected in November with 57 percent of the vote.

Mr. Weiner, 46, admitted Monday he lied to the public after being caught sending a sexually charged photo of himself in underwear to a Washington state college student via Twitter. He said he had made similar “dumb” online exchanges with six women, including some during his 11-month marriage to Huma Abedin, a top aide with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The New York Times, citing unnamed sources, has reported Ms. Abedin is pregnant.

A swelling gaggle of Democrats and Republicans this week has called for Mr. Weiner to resign, including Rep. Allyson Y. Schwartz of Pennsylvania, a top official with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and U.S. Senate candidate and former Democratic National Committee chairman Tim Kaine.

But Melanie Sloan, executive director of the D.C.-based watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said it’s unfair to lump Mr. Weiner together with other politicians tainted by sex scandal.

“I think people are incredibly hypocritical and just use this for political purposes,” she said. “Vitter committed a crime, and John Ensign’s conduct was reprehensible, and both of those people were actually having sex. And I don’t understand why this case was worse than those cases.”

A new poll suggests the lawmaker’s constituents may be willing to overlook his problems. Fifty-six percent of registered voters in Mr. Weiner’s New York’s 9th Congressional District don’t think he should resign from the House, while 33 percent say he should, according to results of a Wednesday poll conducted jointly by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion and NY1, a New York City cable news channel.

Twelve percent of the survey’s respondents said they aren’t sure if the lawmaker should quit or stay.

Congressman Weiner’s constituents are drawing a line between his ethical conduct and professional judgment,” said Lee M. Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “The bottom line: They’re still in his corner on the question of resignation.”