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Rep. Christopher Lee of New York resigns abruptly after personal ads on Craigslist revealed

Christopher Lee, who represents Western New York state, quits hours after the website Gawker posts e-mails -- including a shirtless photo -- that the married Republican allegedly sent through Craigslist's personals site. 'I regret the harm that my actions have caused my family, my staff and my constituents,' he says.

February 09, 2011|By Michael A. Memoli | Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Christopher Lee, a second-term lawmaker representing Western New York state, is resigning from Congress after the release of e-mails the married Republican allegedly sent through an online personals site.

The abrupt announcement came just hours after the website Gawker published an exchange between Lee and an unnamed woman, which included a shirtless photo of the married 46-year-old. In the e-mails, apparently sent from Lee's personal e-mail using his real name, he claimed to be a 39-year-old divorced lobbyist.

"The challenges we face in Western New York and across the country are too serious for me to allow this distraction to continue, and so I am announcing that I have resigned my seat in Congress effective immediately," Lee said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon.

"It has been a tremendous honor to serve the people of Western New York," he continued. "I regret the harm that my actions have caused my family, my staff and my constituents. 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."

The statement was also read aloud in Congress.

According to the e-mails obtained by Gawker, the exchange allegedly began when Lee replied to an online ad posted by a single 34-year-old woman on the website Craigslist in the "Women for Men" section. Lee's initial e-mail described himself as "a very fit fun classy guy." "I promise not to disappoint," he wrote.

In just the second month of the 112th Congress, Lee becomes the second representative to quit the House. California Rep. Jane Harman announced her intention to resign Tuesday to accept a leadership position with the Woodrow Wilson Institute in Washington.

michael.memoli@latimes.com

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