During his Monday confessional press conference, Rep. Anthony Weiner said he would not resign his congressional seat. Despite the scandalized New York Democrat’s avowed intention of remaining in Congress, however, Weiner’s tenure in the House is likely to end soon, as more and more of his fellow Democrats demand his resignation.
A top official of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Rep. Allyson Schwartz of Pennsylvania on Wednesday became the first House Democrat to call for Weiner’s resignation. Five other House Democrats added their agreement. In a radio interview, Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor similarly said Weiner should resign, a sentiment echoed Wednesday by Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and Virginia senatorial candidate Tim Kaine, both former chairmen of the Democratic National Committee.
The so-called “WeinerGate” scandal began May 27 when the congressman, married to a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, sent a late-night Twitter message that included a link to a lewd photo of his crotch. That message was addressed to a 21-year-old college student from Seattle, a fan of Weiner’s who had jokingly described herself as his “girlfriend,” but was also visible to the congressman’s more than 40,000 Twitter followers. Weiner quickly deleted the photo, claiming his online accounts had been “hacked,” and continued his denials for ten days until, at Monday’s press conference in New York, he admitted that he had meant to send the photo to the 21-year-old as a private Twitter direct message (DM).
The congressman also confessed Monday to having carried on several other “online relationships” with women. In the past two days, lurid new details of Weiner’s activities have emerged. Tuesday, the gossip site Radar Online published a graphic transcript of his Facebook “cybersex” exchanges with Lisa Weiss, a 40-year-old Las Vegas casino employee. A 34-year-old teacher in Georgia reluctantly came forward Wednesday to admit she had also carried on sexual Facebook conversations with Weiner. And also Wednesday, two radio personalities published a photo of Weiner’s genitals that the congressman had sent to another of his Internet acquaintances, 26-year-old Meagan Broussard. The hosts of the “Opie and Anthony Show” had surreptitiously obtained the X-rated photo from conservative New Media entrepreneur Andrew Breitbart, whose BigGovernment.com first reported Weiner’s scandal. Breitbart had promised not to publish that photo, and issued a statement Wednesday expressing his regret that it had become public.
WeinerGate has already deprived Democrats of nearly two weeks of media time during which they had hoped to capitalize on the political momentum they gained by winning a May 24 special election in New York’s 26th District. With additional revelations likely in coming days, Weiner’s scandal could continue making headlines for weeks. While some in the GOP, including Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus, have called for Weiner’s resignation, many other Republicans are in no hurry to see the disgraced Democrat depart D.C. One GOP operative, noting Weiner’s previous role as a leading liberal attack dog, told me privately Wednesday: “Who cares whether he resigns now or not? He’s been neutered. Can Weiner accuse Republicans of wrongdoing now? … I say, let him stay.”
Weiner’s scandal “has become a national embarrassment for Democratic leaders,” Devlin Barrett of the Wall Street Journal reports, citing unnamed “Democratic aides” as saying that if the embattled congressman “continues to resist calls to resign, the situation could reach a boiling point Monday when House members return to Washington.”
Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and other House Democrat leaders certainly don’t want to be forced to keep discussing WeinerGate next week. Only Weiner’s resignation can bring the sex-scandal narrative to an end, and that end can’t come soon enough for Democrats.