February 10, 2011

Christopher Lee Congressman

A topless Craigslist photo might not have been a disgraced ex-Republican congressman's first transgression.

House Speaker John Boehner warned Buffalo-area Rep. Christopher Lee – who resigned yesterday -- over his partying antics with female lobbyists last year, according to Politico.

Sources told the political website that Lee was one of several junior GOP lawmakers that Boehner cautioned to "knock it off" with other women. Boehner, who was then House minority leader, had previously made clear that personal misconduct would not be tolerated.

Michael Steel, spokesman for Boehner, would not confirm or deny the report.

"We do not discuss the Speaker's conversations with Members," he told the Daily News, adding it was Rep. Lee's decision to resign.

The 46-year-old married congressman abruptly called it quits on Wednesday after the website Gawker busted him for sending a shirtless photo and flirty emails to a woman hunting for dates on the Craigslist.

In the messages sent to the Maryland resident and government employee last month, Lee claimed he was a 39-year-old divorced lobbyist and a "fit fun classy guy."

Lee stepped down "effectively immediately" just hours after the report was published, although he initially told the site that his email account had been hacked.

"I regret the harm that my actions have caused my family, my staff and my constituents. I deeply and sincerely apologize to them all," Lee said in a statement.

The politician, who was just six weeks into his second two-year term, appeared on Fox News but wouldn't go into the details of the scandal, insisting "I have to work this out with my wife."

It's likely that a special election will be held to replace the New York representative. The congressman had not submitted his resignation to the New York secretary of state as of Wednesday night.

Once he does, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo — who has not yet made a comment about Lee's resignation — could schedule a special election.

Lee's departure comes almost a year after former Democrat Rep. Eric Massa resigned his seat in western New York's 29th Congressional District amid allegations of sexually harassing male staffers.

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