Dem Weiner Fights to Control Lewd Photo Scandal

Tuesday, 31 May 2011 12:15 PM

By Martin Gould

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Rising Democratic star Rep. Anthony Weiner has lawyered up in a desperate bid to quash rumors after a risqué picture was sent from his Twitter account to a 21-year-old co-ed on the other side of the country.

Anthony Weiner, Twitter, tweet, scandal, photoThe newly married New York congressman insists that his account was hacked into. Genette Cordova, the woman who received the shot, backs his story, but that is doing little to halt the flood of questions about the affair.

Chief among them is just who was the model for the picture of the bulging pair of gray underpants, and exactly what is Weiner’s relationship with Cordova, who lives outside Seattle, nearly 2,500 miles from his congressional district.

Cordova says someone using the same Twitter account has harassed her for several months. “I assumed that the Tweet and the picture were their latest attempts at defaming the congressman and harassing his supporters,” she said.

Despite the denials, the congressman and the journalism student have a past — at least online. Less than two months ago, Cordova sent out a Tweet saying, “I wonder what my boyfriend @RepWeiner is up to.”

Cordova now claims that was meant as a joke, saying, “Contrary to the impression that I apparently gave from my Tweet, I am not his girlfriend. Nor am I the wife, girlfriend or mistress of Barack Obama, Ray Allen or Cristiano Ronaldo, despite the fact that I have made similar assertions about them via Twitter.”

Weiner’s Twitter account shows that, although 45,000 members follow everything he says on the social networking site, he follows only 97. Most of those are media outlets and fellow politicians, although they also include a handful of attractive young women, including Cordova.

Cordova, a student at Whatcom Community College in suburban Seattle, claims never to have met Weiner and says no “inappropriate” messages ever have passed between them.

As for an official response to the brouhaha, Weiner spokesman Dave Arnold says, “This was a prank. We are loath to treat it as more. We’ve retained counsel to explore the proper next steps and to advise us on what civil or criminal actions should be taken.”

As the denials fly, Weiner, 46, is being compared with GOP Rep. Chris Lee, who quit the House in February after sending a beefcake picture of himself to a woman he met via Craigslist. In an election to replace Lee last week, the Republicans lost in what traditionally has been a rock-solid seat in New York.

Probably because of the long Memorial Day weekend, few public figures have yet jumped in to comment on the Weiner situation. One who did is conservative Web entrepreneur, Andrew Breitbart.

“Just call it ‘constituency outreach’ and be done with it. We have much more. Need confirmation or denial,” Breitbart Tweeted.

The potential scandal started on Friday when the picture was sent from Weiner’s account to Cordova. It showed just the crotch area of a clearly aroused man wearing boxer briefs.

However, instead of being sent privately, it went to his thousands of followers. It takes only one wrong keystroke (‘@’ instead of ‘d’) for a private Twitter message to go public.

Hours earlier, Weiner, who married Hillary Clinton’s longtime personal aide Huma Abedin last July, had Tweeted that he was going to record a television interview, and pointedly said what time it would be shown in Seattle.

Four minutes after the picture was sent, the congressman started a furious round of Tweets saying his Facebook account had been hacked into and his TiVo had broken. He even joked that he thought his blender might attack him next, although he knew his toaster was loyal.

Another hour passed before he said his Twitter account had also been compromised.

Weiner, a former roommate of “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart, has been an avid user of Twitter during the past nine months. He often uses the site to poke fun at Republicans.

Weiner, whose district includes parts of the New York boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, often has spoken of how he enjoys using the site. “Twitter is a kind of verbalization of people yelling at their television sets or gnashing their teeth at the newspaper,” he said. “A lot of people who follow me represent the fighting wing of the Democratic Party.”

Now, many feel, he will need all of his fighting spirit if he is to emerge unscathed.


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