- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 16, 2011

Embattled Rep. Anthony D. Weiner announced Thursday that he was resigning, capping a nearly three-week scandal involving his sexually charged online relationships with several women that he conceded had made it impossible for him to serve.

“I am here again to apologize for the personal mistakes I have made and the embarrassment I have caused,” Mr. Weiner, New York Democrat, said during an afternoon news conference in his Brooklyn district that was interrupted by continuing heckling from protesters. “I make this apology to my neighbors and constituents, but I made it particularly to my wife, Huma.”

The pugnacious Mr. Weiner, one of the most outspoken liberal voices in the House Democratic caucus before his precipitous fall, said that while he had “hoped to continue the work the citizens of my district elected me to do, … unfortunately the distractions that I have created have made that impossible.”

He said he reached his decision so “my colleagues can get back to work, my neighbors can choose a new representative and, most importantly, that my wife and I can continue to heal from the damage I have caused.”

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

President Obama, who earlier strongly hinted that Mr. Weiner should quit, expressed sympathy Thursday evening but made no effort to ask his fellow Democrat to reconsider his decision to quit.

“Obviously, it’s been a tough incident for him,” said in an interview with ABC News. “But I’m confident that he’ll refocus, and he’ll end up being able to bounce back.”

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat, said that, despite Mr. Weiner’s embarrassing actions, he thinks it would be difficult — though “not beyond the realm of possibility” — for a Republican to win the seat.

”It’s a Democratic district that has been trending Republican, but it would take some extraordinary circumstances” for a Republican to capture the seat, he told reporters at the Capitol on Thursday.

It would be the state’s second special election this year for a House seat that came open as a result of the intersection of old-fashioned sex scandal and new-media technology. GOP Rep. Chris Lee resigned his 26th District seat in February after a shirtless photo of the married congressman was sent to a woman through Craigslist.

Mr. Weiner didn’t say Thursday what he would do next.

“I got into politics to help give voice to the many who simply did not have one,” he said. “Now I’ll be looking for other ways to contribute my talents to make sure that we live up to that most New York and American of ideals.”

The lawmaker’s four-minute address was interrupted by cheers, jeers — including catcalls such as “Bye-bye, pervert” — and lewd comments concerning his name from some in the audience.

Mr. Weiner gives up an annual salary of $174,000. But members who resign from office before their term expires typically are allowed to keep their congressional pensions for time served, said a senior House aide.

Mr. Weiner, 46, who has been married less than a year and whose wife is pregnant, has admitted to sending lewd and sometimes X-rated photos and exchanging sexually charged messages on the Internet with several women.

He acknowledged that he initially lied in public to cover his tracks.

Police also have been looking into Mr. Weiner’s reputed contacts with a 17-year-old girl in Delaware, according to news reports.

He has said he is seeking “professional help” and was granted a two-week leave of absence from the House this week.

Mr. Weiner reportedly was reluctant to make a 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, news sources have reported. That trip ended Tuesday night.

A growing chorus of Capitol Hill Democrats were calling for his resignation. They included House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.

Rep. John B. Larson, Connecticut Democrat, who is House Democratic Caucus chairman, issued a statement saying the congressman “made the decision with the best interest in mind of not just himself, but his family, his constituents and the nation.”

But Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., New Jersey Democrat, said he thinks Mr. Weiner’s conscience — not pressure from party leadership — was what led him to step down.

“I think it was just a kind of internal thing, and I think he sincerely was involved with the idea that he’s done big harm to people, including himself,” Mr. Pascrell told reporters at the Capitol. “I think it’s more of a personal thing than him being concerned about his career.”

Mr. Pascrell said it’s premature to consider the New Yorker’s political career over.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea to think about it within the next five years, but who’s to say what can happen in five years?” he said. “So you don’t know.”

Media consultant Jess Todtfeld agreed it’s plausible Mr. Weiner could re-enter politics later — as long as he shows public contrition.

“When it comes to forgiving and forgetting, Americans are very good at forgetting,” said Mr. Todtfeld, president of Success In Media, a media consultancy based in New York City.

“In the short term, he has to go and show the public that he’s dealt with his problems, much like an alcohol or a drug addiction. … If he really, truly does that, he can start to make his way back to politics.”

Before the scandal broke, Mr. Weiner had been a subject of speculation involving the 2013 New York City mayoral race. He was re-elected to a seventh term in November with 61 percent of the vote.

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