Anthony Weiner Admits to More Lewd Photos
NEW YORK -- New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner admitted on Tuesday to sending additional sexually explicit photos and texts to a woman he met online - an exchange she says began more than a year after he resigned from Congress for similar behavior.
The allegation could severely test voters’ willingness to forgive Weiner, who has said he spent the two years since the scandal trying to make things right with his wife and earn redemption. Three of his rivals for mayor immediately called on Weiner to drop out of the race.
Weiner, who resigned his House seat in June 2011 after acknowledging having sexual conversations with at least a half-dozen women, has been near the top of most mayoral polls since his late entry into the race this spring.
The newly revealed X-rated correspondence was posted Monday by the gossip website The Dirty. The woman involved was not identified.
"I said that other texts and photos were likely to come out and today they have," Weiner said in a statement issued by his campaign. "I want to again say that I am very sorry to anyone who was on the receiving end of these messages and the disruption this has caused."
The 48-year-old Democrat did not say when the exchanges occurred, but he said his behavior created "challenges in our marriage that extended past my resignation."
From the beginning of his mayoral bid, Weiner has said that he learned from his mistakes and that his wife - Huma Abedin, a longtime adviser to Hillary Rodham Clinton - was the driving force behind his comeback attempt.
The woman, who told the website she was 22 when she began chatting with Weiner on the social networking site Formspring, said their online relationship began in July 2012 and lasted for six months. She claimed Weiner used the alias "Carlos Danger" for their exchanges, but she knew she was talking to the former congressman.
She said Weiner promised to help her get a job at the political website Politico and suggested meeting in a Chicago condo for a tryst.
The exchanges posted on The Dirty consist of sexually explicit fantasizing about various sex acts. At one point, the man reported to be Weiner wrote, "I’m deeply flawed."
The woman claimed that she and Weiner exchanged nude photos of themselves and engaged in frequent phone sex. The Dirty ran a pixelated photo of what appears to be a man’s genitals.
"This was a bad situation for me because I really admired him. Even post scandal, I thought he was misunderstood. Until I got to know him. I thought I loved him. Pretty pathetic," the woman was quoted as telling the website.
She said he later asked her to destroy the evidence of their chats. She insisted that she never had sex with Weiner or received any payment from him.
The woman claimed her relationship with Weiner "fizzled" in November 2012. She said she last heard from him this past April, when his intention to run for mayor was first revealed in a New York Times Magazine profile.
"This behavior is behind me," Weiner said in his statement Tuesday. "I apologized to Huma and am grateful that she has worked through these issues with me and for her forgiveness."
He also said that "some things posted today are true and some are not," but he did not elaborate.
Weiner’s campaign spokeswoman did not respond to requests to clarify the timing of the newly revealed exchange. Weiner’s campaign announced a late-afternoon news conference. He was also expected to attend a mayoral forum later Tuesday evening.
His wife, who was pregnant when the sexting scandal broke in 2011 and gave birth months later, has played a large and increasing role in his mayoral campaign. She made an appearance in his campaign kick-off video, has led his fundraising effort and recently made her debut on the campaign trail. Two weekends ago, she walked hand-in-hand with Weiner as they talked to voters on a Harlem street.
Two of his mayoral rivals - Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and former City Councilman Sal Albanese, both Democrats, and billionaire John Catsimatidis, a Republican - quickly called on Weiner to abandon his quest for office, as did a lesser candidate in the race.
"Enough is enough," said de Blasio. "The sideshows of this election have gotten in the way of the debate we should be having about the future of this city."
Another mayoral hopeful, city Comptroller John Liu, stopped short of calling for Weiner to bow out, but suggested his "propensity for pornographic selfies is a valid issue for voters."
The other leading Democratic candidates, including City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and former City Comptroller Bill Thompson, did not immediately comment on the new revelations.
The disclosure suddenly puts Weiner’s indiscretions, judgment and candor back in the forefront of his campaign and could test voters’ confidence in him, political analysts said.
Some voters have said they felt Weiner had atoned for his past and were willing to give him a second chance. But a third, after hearing allegations that his misbehavior continued after his resignation?
"It makes it tougher to believe this is behind him," said Democratic former state Assemblyman Michael Benjamin, now a political consultant.
But given the corps of voters who have shown willingness to forgive Weiner’s prior behavior, the latest revelation may not be a campaign knockout, said Jerry Skurnik, a longtime Democratic consultant who is not working with any mayoral candidates this year.
"At best, it’s a minor negative" that will turn off some voters, he said. "The question is whether it’s a major negative" - and whether there were enough forgiving voters to begin with for Weiner to win.
Some New Yorkers were disappointed by the news that Weiner had apparently continued his online activities even after leaving office.
"I think he had a chance to redeem himself and if he did it twice, he really betrayed the public’s trust again," said Jeremy Green, 22. "I think he’s past the point of no return for New Yorkers."
The revelations come just two weeks after another scandal-scarred candidate, former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, announced his own attempt at political redemption. Spitzer, who resigned in 2008 after admitting to paying for sex with prostitutes, is running for city comptroller.
A spokeswoman for Spitzer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Weiner’s problems began in May 2011, when a website run by conservative commentator Andrew Breitbart posted a photograph of a man’s bulging underwear and said it had been sent from Weiner’s Twitter account to a Seattle woman. Weiner denied he sent the photo, claiming his Twitter had been hacked.
But after more women came forward and more photographic evidence emerged, Weiner admitted he lied.
He then entered two years of self-imposed political exile, only to return this spring.
Under a huge media spotlight, he apologized repeatedly for his behavior in the initial days of his bid but then pivoted quickly into an issues-based campaign. He was largely well-received by voters and quickly established himself as a favorite in the race.