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Chris Lee: Total Craigslist Amateur (and Now Unemployed)

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Slade Sohmer

By Slade Sohmer on February 9, 2011

Breaking: Married father of one trolls Craigslist with fake identity, fake age. Film at 11.

Republican Congressman Christopher Lee of New York’s 26th District was scheduled to hold a tele-town hall on Thursday. Instead he’s resigning after Gawker’s post late Wednesday exposed the 46-year-old married father of one as an allegedly horned-up dude trolling Craigslist for dates while posing as a 39-year-old lobbyist. Gawker, always quick with the Schadenfreude Special, posted relatively bland and sexless e-mails between the man believed to be Lee and a woman in need of, er, company.

Congressman Lee voted against repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and voted to reject federal abortion, so the logical leap would be that he has no problem legislating his own bizarre view of morality. We have no such qualms: Despite the hypocrisy huffing and political puffing, Congressman Lee in reality had very little control over your bedroom activity or your life. Besides, these political sex scandals tend to lose any genuine sense of importance when they happen all the time.

The truth is, we don’t know anything about Lee’s personal life. Maybe he is truly devoted to his wife. Maybe she hasn’t slept with him in years. Maybe they share a great sex life but also have Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy of their own. Maybe he acknowledges privately that he’s not a perfect person but otherwise is actually a man of family values when the Grand Old Blue Balls aren’t yearning for strange.

Lee may have voted with his party against the right of gay soldiers to serve openly and a woman’s right to choose, and he should know that his public persona doesn’t allow for online escapades. But just because you disagree with him shouldn’t necessarily give us the right to pass judgment on his own failures as a husband, father or human being. That’s on him. That’s for him to work out with his family.

I’m more concerned with his amateurish moves. Lee can’t be proud of the mistakes he made within the sanctity of marriage, but he should be more ashamed by the following three errors:

1. He used his real name: If the first rule and second rule of Fight Club are both “You do not talk about Fight Club,” then the first and second rules of Craigslist is “You’re a dumb schmuck who deserves to get caught if you use your real name.” Not as catchy, sure, but just as important. The only reason he’s on Gawker now is because he didn’t either employ a fake name like “Rusty Hardstein” or use a moniker like “CapHillGunShow@excite.com.” Christopher Lee may seem like a common name, until you realize that you’re a sitting congressman, and that you probably rank higher in the Google search engine than some random college kid from Tulsa or a low-grade dentist from Texarkana.

2. The unprovoked shirtless pic: Despite the fact that for a 46-year-old man Lee’s got every right to show off his ripped body, there are two major problems with his shirtless gambit. Firstly, it comes way too early in the e-mail conversation; so early that she even remarked on it. If her original post called for body pics or cock shots, then it’s excusable, but she clearly states “pic for pic only,” which usually implies “show me your face and I’ll show you mine.”

More importantly, if you’re going to send an enchanting temptress a shirtless photo over the Internet, don’t do so wearing dress pants and a belt while semi-flexing your biceps. It sends mixed messages. There’s only one man who could ever pull that off: Patrick Swayze, and he’s gone (but not forgotten).

It’s also, in my experience, quite difficult to be “relaxing at home,” as he says along with the pic, in dress pants and a belt. It screams desperate liar.

3. He is a lobbyist in his fantasy: It’s not like she says explicitly that she’s looking for a long-term relationship — in fact, she says she just wants a man who doesn’t look like a toad. But according to Gallup’s annual Honesty and Ethics survey published in December 2010, lobbyists are found to possess the lowest amount honesty and ethical standards of ANY profession (well, tied at 7% with car salesman). Maybe this lass was just looking for a quick romp, therefore maybe the wealth and power of a lobbyist would come in handy, but he certainly seemed like he was in it for the long haul, a slow play involving casual talk about past dates and divorce. Why would you try to pass yourself off as a man interested in a date when most people think your (fake) job means you’re a dishonest, unethical dickbag? You could be rich and powerful without being a sleazeball — heck, even lawyers and business executives rank higher than lobbyists for honesty and ethics in the hearts and minds of most Americans (ironically, even members of Congress rank higher than lobbyists).

C’mon, Congressman. If this kind of amateur-hour effort is indicative of your legislative smarts, it’s a good thing you’re walking away from a job that requires some forethought.

UPDATE: A word of, I don’t know, congratulations? to Gawker for bringing down a sitting U.S. Congressman with fewer than 1,000 words. A new first for the Internet. Pretty incredible that Lee didn’t even let the dust settle. Maybe he’s never heard of a news cycle before. Maybe he doesn’t remember that all he did was send a shirtless picture, not say, get a blowjob in the Oval. Interestingly quick exit.

UPDATE II: Also, as far as disgraced upstate New York former congressmen go, you’d rather want to be Lee than Eric Massa, right? Shirtless with a good body beats tickle fights every time, yeah?

UPDATE III: From Taegan Goddard‘s Political Wire: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has the power to call a special election to replace Rep. Chris Lee (R-NY), who resigned over a scandal today, the Albany Times Union reports. The party candidates to succeed Lee “are chosen not by a petitioning and primary process, but by a weighted vote of the county party chairs in the district.” On the list of possible candidates: Carl Paladino (R), the 2010 gubernatorial nominee.

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