(Updates with comments from Representatives Israel and Pascrell, starting in third paragraph.)
June 16 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner plans to resign from Congress after earlier admitting he sent inappropriate messages and photos of himself to women on the Internet, according to a Democratic Party official.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Weiner, a New York Democrat, called Representative Steve Israel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, last evening to say he would resign. Weiner’s office said he will make a statement at 2 p.m. today in Brooklyn.
Israel, a New York Democrat, said today Weiner “has the right and responsibility to talk to his constituents before I can comment on his decision.”
Weiner, a married New York Democrat, admitted June 6 that he engaged in “inappropriate conversations” with six women over the last three years, including on Facebook, e-mail, Twitter and on the phone with one of the women.
Weiner, 46, said at a news conference that day in New York that he wouldn’t resign, even as he acknowledged making “terrible mistakes.” During the previous week, he had denied sending a racy photograph of himself to a Seattle woman via Twitter and claimed that his account was hacked. The photo showed a man from the waist down in gray boxer briefs.
Weiner, first elected to his House seat in 1998, said he didn’t use government resources in sending the photos and messages.
Calls for Resignation
Last weekend, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, and several other top House Democrats called on Weiner to resign. President Barack Obama said that if he were faced with the same situation, he would resign. Pelosi said today she wouldn’t comment until after Weiner’s statement.
Representative Bill Pascrell, a New Jersey Democrat who said he has spoken to Weiner since the scandal surfaced, said today that of his colleague had told the truth from the start, “it could have ended differently.”
Still, he said resignation is the right decision for Weiner. “He’s got to be caught up in making amends” to his wife instead of worrying about his political future, said Pascrell. “If he’s not, he’s more stupid than the things he did.”
‘Something More Mysterious’
Asked by reporters why he thought pressure built on Weiner to resign when Representative Charles Rangel, another New York Democrat, didn’t face similar demands when he was officially censured by the House last December for ethics violations involving his finances, Pascrell said, “there is always something more mysterious about the flesh than about cash.”
Big Government, a conservative website, published photographs and e-mails that it said had been sent by Weiner to unidentified women. One of the photos showed a man sitting bare- chested. The subject’s face wasn’t visible, though photos on a cabinet in the background showed Weiner.
The blogger, Andrew Breitbart, said the photos were sent from the e-mail address AnthonyWeiner@aol.com via BlackBerry last month.
Weiner said he never met any of the women in person and that he had never had sex outside his marriage. Weiner married Huma Abedin, a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, last year in a ceremony officiated by former President Bill Clinton. His wife is pregnant, the New York Times reported June 8, quoting three people it didn’t identify.
Weiner’s district encompasses parts of Queens and Brooklyn in New York City. In 2005, he came in second in a three-way Democratic mayoral primary. He was re-elected to Congress in 2010 with 61 percent of the vote and had expressed interest in running for mayor in 2013.
Democrats in Congress refused to defend Weiner’s behavior. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters his advice to the congressman, if he called, would be “call someone else.”
Weiner, who first won election to his House seat in 1998, was one of the loudest Democratic critics of Republican policies. His attacks and frequent cable news interviews made him a hero to some Democratic activists.
In February 2010, he called the Republican Party a “wholly owned subsidiary of the insurance industry” for opposing the health-care overhaul enacted by Democrats.
Over the last five years, sex scandals led to the resignation of four members of the House of Representatives and ruined the careers of a former vice presidential nominee and presidential candidate, two governors of New York, a governor of South Carolina and two U.S. senators.
--With assistance from Catherine Dodge in Washington and Peter S. Green in New York. Editors: Laurie Asseo, Don Frederick
To contact the reporters on this story: Lisa Lerer in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org; James Rowley in Washington at email@example.com
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