By CAROLYN THOMPSON
CLARENCE, New York (AP) A married U.S. lawmaker who cultivated a family-values voting record in Congress abruptly resigned with only a vague explanation of regret after a gossip website reported that he had sent a shirtless photo of himself flexing his muscles to a woman he met on Craigslist.
A woman described as a 34-year-old Maryland resident and government employee provided the Gawker website with e-mails she said were an exchange between her and Rep. Christopher Lee in response to an ad she placed last month in the “Women Seeking Men” section of Craigslist.
Gawker reported Wednesday that Lee identified himself as a divorced lobbyist and sent a photo of himself posing in front of a mirror. It said the woman eventually broke off the contact with Lee after becoming suspicious that he had misrepresented himself.
“I regret the harm that my actions have caused my family, my staff and my constituents,” Lee posted in a surprise announcement Wednesday night on his congressional website. “I deeply and sincerely apologize to them all. I have made profound mistakes and I promise to work as hard as I can to seek their forgiveness.”
Lee, a two-term Republican from New York state with a young son, said in an e-mailed statement that his resignation was effective immediately. The statement offered no confirmation or details of a Craigslist post.
Lee, who won his seat in 2008, had a strong family-values voting record in the House, earning an 88 percent approval rating from the American Conservative Union for his 2010 votes. He voted in favor of a ban on federal funding of abortion in the health care overhaul, in line with the group’s position on the proposed ban, which was defeated in the House. He also voted against the repeal of the military’s policy prohibiting service by openly gay men and women.
He served on the House Ways and Means Committee and was active on economic revitalization issues. He has a business background stemming from his family’s manufacturing enterprises.