Anthony Weiner sexting scandals
American politician Anthony Weiner, former member of the United States House of Representatives from New York City, has been involved in three sexual scandals related to sexting, or sending explicit sexual material by cell phone. The first, sometimes dubbed Weinergate, led to his resignation as a congressman in 2011. The second, during his attempt to return to politics as candidate for mayor of New York City, involved three women Weiner admitted having sexted after further explicit pictures were published in July 2013. The third, in 2015 but publicized in 2016, resulted in an announced intended separation between him and his wife, Huma Abedin.
The first scandal began when Democratic U.S. Congressman Weiner used the social media website Twitter to send a link to a sexually suggestive picture of himself to a 21-year-old woman from Seattle, Washington. After several days of denying media reports that he had posted the image, he admitted to having sent a link to the photo, and other sexually explicit photos and messages to women both before and during his marriage. He denied ever having met, or having had a physical relationship with any of the women. On June 16, 2011, Weiner announced his intention to resign from Congress effective June 23, 2011.
A second scandal began on July 23, 2013, after Weiner returned to politics in April 2013 by entering the New York City mayoral election, when more pictures and sexting by Weiner were released by the website The Dirty. They were allegedly sent under the alias Carlos Danger to a 22-year-old woman with whom Weiner had contact in late 2012, and as late as April 2013, more than a year after Weiner had left Congress. Weiner admitted sexting at least three women during this period, and although called on by The New York Times editorial board, among others, to leave the mayoral race, he remained in the race until the end, when he took fifth place in the Democratic primary, with 4.9% of the vote.
Initial media reports and Weiner's denial
On May 27, 2011, using his public Twitter account, Weiner sent a link to a photo on yfrog of his erect penis concealed by boxer briefs to a 21-year-old female college student from Seattle, Washington, who was following his posts on the social media website. Though the link was quickly removed from Weiner's Twitter account, screen shots of Weiner’s original message and of the photo were captured by a user identified as "Dan Wolfe" on Twitter and subsequently sent to blogger Andrew Breitbart who published them on his BigGovernment website the following day.
On June 1, Weiner gave a series of interviews in which he denied sending the photo and suggested that someone, perhaps a political opponent, had hacked into his accounts and published the photo. Weiner also said he could not say "with certitude" that the photo was not of him. He suggested that the image might be doctored, saying, "Maybe it did start being a photo of mine and now looks something different or maybe it is from another account." He did not ask the FBI or U.S. Capitol Police to investigate the incident but said he had retained a private security firm to look into this matter because he felt it was a prank, not a crime. Several bloggers accused Wolfe and Breitbart of planting the photo and message as part of a scheme to defame Weiner.
Evidence later revealed that a group of self-described conservatives had been monitoring Weiner's communications with women for at least three months. Two false identities of underage girls had been created by unknown parties to solicit communication with Weiner and the women he was contacting. Bloggers reported a tweet made in April by a 17-year-old Delaware girl in which she exclaimed, "Seriously talking to Representative Weiner from New York right now! Like is my life real?" In early June, Fox News Channel, whose reporter "happened to be there when the cops showed up", reported that police went to the girl's house to question her and her parents. The police, who had been "made aware of an alleged contact" between Weiner and the girl, also reviewed content on her computer. Weiner confirmed having communicated with the girl, but denied sending any inappropriate messages. The family of the girl stated the contact was "not salacious or in any manner inappropriate". The police did not find anything wrong in Weiner's communications with the girl. The entire incident was later dubbed "Weinergate."
On June 6, Breitbart posted a cropped, shirtless picture of Weiner obtained from a second woman on the Internet, and said Weiner had sent more pictures of himself, including at least one that was sexually graphic. After publication of this information, Weiner held a press conference in New York at which he apologized, saying, "I have not been honest with myself, my family, my constituents, my friends and supporters, and the media" and that, "to be clear, the picture was of me, and I sent it." After prompting from reporters, he specifically apologized to Andrew Breitbart. He also said he had "engaged in several inappropriate conversations conducted over Twitter, Facebook, email and occasionally on the phone" and had exchanged "messages and photos of an explicit nature with about six women over the last three years". He added he had never met or had a physical relationship with any of them. He said he was "deeply ashamed" of his "terrible judgment and actions", which he called "very dumb."
Answering questions, he said he had the continuing support of his wife Huma Abedin, a long-time aide to Hillary Clinton, whom he had married in July 2010, in a ceremony officiated by Bill Clinton, and did not intend to resign his congressional seat. Prior to his marriage, Weiner was known for his "bachelor exploits with some of New York's most eligible women," detailed in a 2011 Moment profile of the Congressman. Following the revelations of his inappropriate communications, his reportedly emotional apology to former president Clinton was referred to in the press as highly ironic. Asked about an allegation that he had engaged in phone sex with a woman in Nevada, Weiner neither confirmed nor denied the statement, saying that though he did not want to impinge the privacy of any of the women, neither would he contradict any of their statements. At his press conference, Weiner did admit that he had exchanged the reported sexting messages with his accuser.
During an appearance on Sirius XM radio on June 8, 2011, Breitbart showed hosts Opie and Anthony a photograph of what he claimed to be Weiner's nude genitalia. One of the cameras in the room caught the cell phone's display, and the hosts subsequently leaked the photo by publishing it on Twitter. Breitbart stated that the photo was published without his permission, and later told KFI radio, "These people have admitted that they did this surreptitiously and illicitly and they lied in the process saying that they didn't even have a camera in the place." Weiner's spokesperson issued the following statement: "As Representative Weiner said on Monday when he took responsibility for his actions, he has sent explicit photos."
News media also reported the identity of other Weiner's social media contacts, Lisa Weiss, a 40-year-old blackjack dealer in Las Vegas, and 28-year-old porn actress Ginger Lee who had exchanged sexually oriented messages with Weiner. On June 15, Ginger Lee held a press conference during which she said that when she requested advice from Weiner on how to respond to the media, he had advised her on June 2 that if they both stayed quiet the scandal would die down.
Political and constituent reaction
On the afternoon of June 6, 2011, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called for an investigation by the House Ethics Committee to determine "whether any official resources were used or any other violation of House rules occurred". A number of Democratic and Republican congressmen called for Weiner's resignation. On June 7, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus called for him to resign, and challenged Pelosi to suggest the same. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R, VA) said he should resign, opining: "The last thing we need is to be immersed in discussion about Congressman Weiner and his Twitter activities." House Democrats who called for him to resign on June 8 included Representatives Allyson Schwartz (PA), Mike Ross (AR), Mike Michaud (ME), Niki Tsongas (MA), Larry Kissell (NC) and Joe Donnelly (IN).
On June 11, Nancy Pelosi, DCCC Steve Israel, and DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz called for Weiner's resignation. Weiner requested and was granted a short leave of absence from the House to obtain professional treatment of an unspecified nature.
Two June 6 surveys of New York City adult residents provided conflicting results. A TV station NY1 and Marist College poll indicated that 51% believed Weiner should remain in Congress, 30% thought he should step down, and 18% were unsure. A WABC-TV/SurveyUSA automated survey found the city divided, with 46 percent who thought he should resign and 41 percent who thought he should stay in office. On June 9, a NY1-Marist Poll showed that 56% of registered voters in Weiner's Congressional District wanted him to stay in Congress, and 33% thought he should resign, with 12% uncertain. In the same poll, 73% said he acted unethically, but not illegally.
On June 13, White House spokesman Jay Carney said "The president feels... this is a distraction, as Congressman Weiner has said himself, his behavior was inappropriate; dishonesty was inappropriate." President Barack Obama said in an interview later that day that if he were Weiner, he would resign.
On June 16, 2011, Weiner announced he would resign his seat in Congress. He made the announcement at a news conference in Brooklyn, at the same location where he announced his first campaign for New York City Council in 1992.
On June 20, Weiner formally submitted his letter of resignation from the U.S. House of Representatives, effective at midnight on June 21. His letter of resignation was read on the floor of the House of Representatives on June 23 and entered into the record.
2013 mayoral race and second scandal
In April, 2013, the former congressman announced his return to politics as candidate for mayor of New York City. He soon became the front runner against Democratic primary-opponent City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
On July 23, 2013, more pictures and sexting allegedly by Weiner were released by the website The Dirty. They were allegedly sent under the alias "Carlos Danger" to a 22-year-old woman with whom Weiner had contact in late 2012, as late as April 2013, more than a year after Weiner left Congress. At a news conference that same day, with his wife Huma by his side, Weiner responded, "I said that other texts and photos were likely to come out, and today they have." He also said he would not drop out of the mayoral election for the City of New York.
On July 24, The New York Times print edition called for Weiner to withdraw from the mayoral race in an editorial titled "Mr. Weiner and the Elusive Truth". In a joint NBC 4 New York/Wall Street Journal/Marist Institute for Public Opinion poll taken that day, Weiner's favorability rating had dropped over 20 points, and he had lost the lead in the primary race to councilor Quinn, now leading him 25 to 16 percent.
On July 25, the New York Daily News reported that, at a news conference in Brooklyn that day, Weiner admitted that he had sexted with three women in the months after his resignation from Congress, and that there had been six to ten women involved in total, not "dozens and dozens". Weiner’s campaign manager Danny Kedem quit the weekend after the news conference.
Following the primary election on September 10, 2013, the press reported that Sydney Leathers, the young woman at the center of the second scandal, attempted to enter Weiner's campaign party that night, without an invitation. Weiner lost decisively in the election, finishing in fifth place with 4.9% of the vote.
On August 28, 2016, the New York Post reported that Weiner had sexted another woman, including sending one picture in July 2015 while lying in bed with his toddler son sleeping next to him. The New York Times reported the next day that Weiner and his wife intended to separate. NY1, where Weiner had served as a contributor, put him on indefinite leave.
In popular culture
The first scandal was used as the inspiration for part of the plot line of Season I-II of the Showtime series Homeland, where a protagonist, a war hero (played by Damian Lewis), is invited to run for Congress (and subsequently gets elected) after the political career of "Congressman Dick Johnson" comes to a sudden end after his sexting pictures are publicized. A Washington Post article, noting that the Weiner story broke just in time for script purposes, quotes Alex Gansa, co-creator of Homeland: "We were looking for a way that our lead character could become a congressman in a very quick period of time. This presented itself on a platter." The 2016 documentary Weiner covers his resignation from Congress and his run for Mayor of New York in 2013.
- New York magazine "a photo of his erect penis, concealed by briefs" Anthony Weiner's Big Ego June 2, 2011
- "A few holes in skeevy skivvy story". New York Post. June 5, 2011. Retrieved June 17, 2011.
- Kelly, Jack (June 5, 2011). "Weiner's troubling tweet". The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
a photo of an erection barely covered by a man's underwear
- Brad Kim, Don Caldwell (June 3, 2011). "LulzSec, #weinergate and #ghettospellingbee: Cheezburger's top memes of the week – What's Trending". CBS News. Archived from the original on June 9, 2011.
- "Unanswered questions in Anthony Weiner's hack story". New York Post. June 5, 2011. Retrieved June 10, 2011.
- Jim Bruner (June 1, 2011). "Bellingham student embroiled in Rep. Weiner Twitter scandal". The Seattle Times.
- "Unanswered questions in Anthony Weiner's hack story". New York Post. June 5, 2011. Retrieved June 8, 2011.
- Andrew Malcolm (June 3, 2011). "Weinergate: Whose crotch was it and when did he know it?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 4, 2011.
- Chris Taylor (June 3, 2011). "9 things Weinergate tells us about Twitter". CNN. Retrieved June 4, 2011. * Maggie Haberman (June 3, 2011). "Rudy Giuliani wades into Weinergate". Politico. Retrieved June 4, 2011.
- Fenton, Reuven; MacIntosh, Jeane (June 3, 2011). "Lewd-pic recipient worn out by Weiner scandal". New York Post. Archived from the original on June 4, 2011. Retrieved June 6, 2011.
- "Anthony Weiner cancels Wisconsin speech to Democrats". Reuters. June 3, 2011. Retrieved June 4, 2011.
- "Rep. Anthony Weiner Refuses to Discuss Lewd Photo". The Wall Street Journal. June 1, 2011. Retrieved June 4, 2011.
- Muñoz-Temple, Amanda (June 16, 2011). "The Man Behind Weiner's Resignation". National Journal. Archived from the original on July 2, 2015. Retrieved January 4, 2016.
- "Rep. Anthony Weiner's Emotional Apology". ABC News. June 6, 2011. Retrieved June 6, 2011. Weiner's spokesman originally confirmed Weiner's statement, saying that the Twitter "accounts were obviously hacked." See "Rep. Weiner: I did not send Twitter crotch pic". CBS News/Associated Press. May 29, 2011.
- Epstein, Jennifer (June 2, 2011). "Eric Cantor says Anthony Weiner should 'come clean'". Politico. Retrieved June 3, 2011.
- "'Maybe it started out being a photo of mine': Weinergate continues as Congressman admits Twitter photo could have been one of his that was 'taken out of context'". Daily Mail. London, UK. June 2, 2011. Retrieved June 2, 2011.
- "Congressman Weiner: The Blitzer Interview pt 1 » Ai Politics – Against Ideology". Aipolitics.me. June 2, 2011. Retrieved June 10, 2011.
- "Probe could give Weiner more headaches: expert". CBS. Retrieved June 2, 2011.
- "Police could figure out Weiner guilt or innocence". Associated Press. Retrieved June 3, 2011.
- "Weiner 'can't say with certitude' that lewd photo isn't of him". MSNBC. Archived from the original on June 1, 2011. Retrieved June 2, 2011.
- The Man Behind Weiner's Resignation; National Journal; Amanda Muñoz-Temple; June 16, 2011
- Preston, Jennifer (June 17, 2011). "Fake Identities Were Used on Twitter in Effort to Get Information on Weine". The New York Times. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
- Haberman, Maggie; Allen, Jonathan (June 10, 2011). "Anthony Weiner admits contact with girl, 17". Politico. Retrieved June 1, 2013.
- Weiner’s 17-year-old Twitter contact responds; CNN; June 12, 2011
- Gendar, Alison; Blau, Reuven; Siemaszko, Corky (June 11, 2011). "Weinergate: Cops probe Rep. Anthony Weiner's Tweets to minor, pol's team says it was G-rated". Daily News. New York. Retrieved June 1, 2013.
- Shapiro, Ben (July 26, 2013). "The Lies Never Stopped: The SEXTcapades of the 'Next Mayor of NYC'". Big Government. Breitbart.com. Retrieved July 19, 2014.
- "William Bradley: Weinergate's Lasting Impact: The First Big Social Media Political Sex Scandal". The Huffington Post. June 7, 2011. Retrieved June 17, 2011.
- Alfarone, Debra (June 7, 2011). "The Women of Weinergate: Anthony Weiner's Sexting Mates". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved June 17, 2011.
- Michael A. Memoli and James Oliphant (June 6, 2011). "New half-naked photos: Rep. Weiner calls a news conference". Los Angeles Times.
- Daly, Corbett B. (June 6, 2011). "Conservative website posts private pictures of Anthony Weiner". CBS News.
- Epstein, Jennifer (June 6, 2011). "Report: Shirtless Anthony Weiner photo sent". Politico.
- "Transcript of Weiner's Statement Confessing to Twitter Photo, Past Relationships". NBC News. June 7, 2011.
- Breitbart, Andrew (April 15, 2013). "Lies upon Lies: How Anthony Weiner Went Down". Big Journalism. Breitbart.com. Retrieved July 19, 2014.
- "Weiner: 'I apologize to Andrew Breitbart'". Politico. June 6, 2011. Retrieved July 19, 2014.
- "Full transcript of Weiner's news conference". New York Post. June 6, 2011. Archived from the original on June 8, 2011.
- Nia-Malika Henderson (June 7, 2011). "Huma Abedin, Rep. Anthony Weiner's unflappable wife". The Washington Post.
- Huma Khan (June 6, 2011). "Weiner Admits Internet Affairs, Says He Will Not Resign".
- Daphna Berman (May–June 2011). "Live from NY, it's Anthony Weiner". Moment.
- Chris Rovzar (June 8, 2011). "The Clintons are 'Deeply Unhappy' in Anthony Weiner".
- Hartenstein, Meena (June 6, 2011). "Rep. Anthony Weiner's sexting partners Meagan Broussard, Lisa Weiss out themselves, describe affairs". New York Daily News.
- Siegel, Elyse (June 8, 2011). "Anthony Weiner Penis Photo Released By Opie And Anthony". The Huffington Post. Retrieved June 10, 2011.
- Bond, Paul (June 9, 2011). "Anthony Weiner's Genitalia Photo Puts Sirius XM in Sticky Situation (Video)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 18, 2011.
- Devlin Barrett (June 8, 2011). "Democrats Push Weiner to Go". The Wall Street Journal.
- Hartenstein, Meena (June 6, 2011). "Rep. Anthony Weiner's sexting partners Meagan Broussard, Lisa Weiss out themselves, describe affairs". New York Daily News. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
- Nichols, Michelle (June 15, 2011). "Porn star says Representative Weiner asked her to lie". Reuters. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
- MacIntosh, Jeane; Olshan, Jeremy (June 15, 2011). "Weiner text pal Ginger Lee set to strip again tonight". New York Post. Retrieved April 27, 2013.
- "Porn star says Representative Weiner asked her to lie". Reuters. Retrieved June 16, 2011.
- Memoli, Michael A (June 6, 2011). "Nancy Pelosi calls for Ethics Committee to investigate Rep. Anthony Weiner". Los Angeles Times.
- Jonathan Allen – "John Boehner stays silent on Weiner scandal", Politico, June 7, 2011; retrieved June 8, 2011.
- Devlin Barrett, Patrick O'Connor -"Republicans Call for Weiner to Resign", The Wall Street Journal, June 8, 2011.
- Hernandez, Raymond "House Democrats Step Up Calls for Weiner to Quit", The New York Times, June 8, 2011.
- "Weiner Enters 'Treatment Center' As Pelosi, Top Dems Urge Him to Quit". New York. Retrieved June 11, 2011.
- Nelson, Steven (June 11, 2011). "Wasserman Schultz, Pelosi call on Weiner to resign". The Daily Caller. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
- Siegel, Elyse (June 11, 2011). "Anthony Weiner To Seek Treatment". The Huffington Post. Retrieved June 12, 2011.
- Muskal, Michael (June 7, 2011). "NY1-Marist Poll: Weiner should not quit Congress – but mayor? Forget about it.". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 8, 2011.
- Blumenthal, Mark (June 7, 2011). "Antony Weiner Polls:NYC Split On Resignation, Against Mayoral Run". The Huffington Post. Archived from the original on June 15, 2011. Retrieved June 8, 2011.
- Lisi, Clemente (June 9, 2011). "Poll shows that majority of voters in Weiner's district want him to stay". New York Post. Retrieved June 10, 2011.
- "White House: Weiner scandal is a 'distraction'". CNN. June 13, 2011. Retrieved June 13, 2011.
- Siegel, Elyse. "Obama On Anthony Weiner: If I Were Him I'd Resign". The Huffington Post. Archived from the original on June 23, 2011. Retrieved June 13, 2011.
- Camia, Catalina (July 20, 2011). "Anthony Weiner hasn't officially resigned yet". USA Today.
- Parker,Ashley (June 16, 2011). "Even a Media Circus Needs a Clown". The New York Times. Retrieved December 6, 2011.
- "New York Rep. Anthony Weiner resigns", msnbc.com; retrieved June 16, 2011.
- "Transcript of Weiner Announcing Resignation from Congress". NBC New York. June 16, 2011.
- Canning, Andrea; Hopper, Jessica (June 6, 2011). "Rep. Anthony Weiner's Sexting Scandal: Why Did He Do It?". ABC News. Retrieved June 17, 2011.
- Morales, Mark (June 7, 2011). "Anthony Weiner's sexting scandal gets big thumbs down in Queens, Brooklyn". New York Daily News. Retrieved June 17, 2011.
- "Will Rep. Weiner's career survive the sexting scandal?". Amfix.blogs.cnn.com. June 8, 2011. Archived from the original on July 20, 2011. Retrieved June 17, 2011.
- Camia, Catalina. "Anthony Weiner officially steps down Tuesday". USA Today. Retrieved June 20, 2011.
- Katz, Celeste (June 20, 2011). "Document Drop: Weiner's Resignation Letter". New York Daily News.
Dear Secretary Perales and Governor Cuomo: I hereby resign as the Member of the House of Representatives for New York's Ninth Congressional District effective at midnight, Tuesday, June 21, 2011. It has been an honor to serve the people of Queens and Brooklyn.(scan of letter of resignation at this link)
- Republican Wins House Race in New York, Seen as Obama Rebuke, foxnews.com, September 14, 2011; accessed August 29, 2016.
- "EXCLUSIVE IMAGE: Anthony Weiner Penis Picture And Timeline". Thedirty.com. Retrieved 2013-07-24.
- McCarty, Tom. "New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner says explicit photo is of him", guardian.co.uk, July 23, 2013.
- Moore, Martha T. (July 23, 2013). "Weiner still in NYC race despite improper messages". USA Today.
- Editorial Board (July 24, 2013). "Mr. Weiner and the Elusive Truth". The New York Times. p. A22.
- Kopan, Tal (July 23, 2013). "Poll: Anthony Weiner hurt by scandal, trails". The Politico.
- Durkin, Erin; Stephen Rex Brown (July 25, 2013). "Anthony Weiner reveals online relationships AFTER his disgraceful exit from Congress". Daily News. New York.
- Barbaro, Michael (July 27, 2013). "Weiner's Campaign Manager Quits". The New York Times. Retrieved July 28, 2013.
- "Sydney Leathers, former sexting partner of Anthony Weiner, attempts to crash his election night party", Daily News, New York, retrieved September 11, 2013
- "Sydney Leathers crashes sexting partner Anthony Weiner's concession party", Fox News, September 11, 2013, retrieved September 11, 2013
- Bycoffe, Aaron (2013-09-11). "Live Results: New York City Primary Elections". Huffington Post.
- "Anthony Weiner sexted busty brunette while his son was in bed with him". 2016-08-28. Retrieved 2016-08-28.
- "Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin to Separate After His Latest Sexting Scandal". 2016-08-29. Retrieved 2016-08-29.
- Byers, Dylan (August 29, 2016). "NY1 puts Anthony Weiner on indefinite leave". CNN.com. Retrieved August 29, 2016.
- "'Homeland': Does it get Washington right?", The Washington Post, November 15, 2011.
- Sundance Review: 'Weiner' is the Best Documentary About a Political Campaign Ever Made, Eric Kohn, Indie Wire, January 2016
- Weiner review: an unsparing portrait of politics, Lanre Bakare, The Guardian, January 24, 2016