The borough’s elected officials have not rushed to support U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills), with most declining to comment after the congressman owned up to tweeting a suggestive picture of himself wearing boxer briefs to a Seattle college student and admitted to having online relationships with six women.
The strongest encouragement came from Weiner’s mentor and predecessor, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).
“By fully explaining himself, apologizing to all he hurt and taking full responsibility for his wrongful actions, Anthony did the right thing,” Schumer said in a statement. “He remains a talented and committed public servant, and I pray he and his family can get through these difficult times.”
Weiner, who choked up at times during a news conference he called Monday to take responsibility for the picture, said he was not resigning because he does not believe he violated his congressional oath or any laws.
“I have made terrible mistakes that have hurt the people I care about the most and I am deeply sorry,” an emotional Weiner told reporters at the Sheraton Hotel in Manhattan. “I have not been honest with myself, my family, my supporters.”
The revelation led House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to call for an ethics investigation into Weiner, who said he welcomed the probe and claimed no government resources were used in his indiscretions.
Reince Preibus, head of the Republican National Committee, called on Weiner to resign, but the congressman said he was not stepping down.
Weiner’s colleague, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria), called the scandal “a sad situation.
“My heart goes out to Congressman Weiner’s family during this difficult time,” she said.
Many of the borough’s elected officials, including Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica), state Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) and City Councilman James Sanders (D-Laurelton), declined to comment.
A Democratic insider said Weiner could have avoided the media circus if he had told the truth about the tweet from the onset.
The insider said Weiner probably will not be in Congress next year, but it would be due to redistricting, not the sexting scandal.
Weiner’s district may largely be carved up between Reps Joe Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) and Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside), the insider said.
“I’d bet a beer right now that he won’t be in Congress in 18 months because of redistricting,” the insider said.
After days of denials and maintaining that his Twitter account was hacked, Weiner admitted Monday to sending the lewd photo that was intended to be seen only by 21-year-old Gennette Cordova, but was viewable to thousands of his followers on the social media website.
Weiner said the photo of his crotch was intended as a direct message to Cordova “that was a joke,” but he panicked when he realized the picture could be seen by anyone following his Twitter account and took it down himself.
The congressman called the news conference after more photos showing Weiner shirtless were released Monday by right-wing blogger Andrew Breitbart.
“The picture was of me and I sent it,” Weiner said in stunning admission.
The congressman also admitted to engaging in “inappropriate conversations, e-mail, Twitter” and pictures of “explicit images” that he shared with six women, although he said he had no physical relationships with them.
Phil Ragusa, chairman of the Queens Republican Party, said Weiner should have resigned.
“It’s really a shame because he’s supposed to be doing the people’s work and what’s he doing? He’s twittering, he’s sending lewd photos,” Ragusa said. “If he lies about things like this, how can you trust a guy like this?”
Weiner said his wife, Huma Abedin — an aide to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — was aware of the online relationships before they were married last summer and that the relationships started before the marriage.
“I should not have done this and I should not have done this while I was married,” he said.
Weiner said the online exchanges were conducted on his personal BlackBerry and his home computer and that government property was not used.
The congressman said that in some cases he initiated contact with the women and most of them he met on Facebook, but said he never met them in person.
Ann Jawin, president of the Center for the Women of New York, said she was both heartsick and disturbed by Weiner’s actions.
“He’s a very effective congressman and he’s represented the area very well,” she said. “What he did ... was a personal thing, but people in public office have to consider that their personal life is not personal anymore.”
Jawin said Weiner’s conduct “sounds like the behavior of a teenager that didn’t grow up.”
When asked if he deserves another term in office, Weiner said it is up to voters to decide.
“My constituents have to make that determination,” he said. “I’m going to go back to work and I’m going to convince them this was a personal failing.”
Von Stewart, a Forest Hills resident of five years, said Weiner has his vote next year, but said the congressman destroyed his mayoral aspirations.
“I’m a New Yorker. I think New Yorkers will forgive him, but the chance of him becoming mayor is slim now,” Stewart said.
Weiner, who has more than 65,000 Twitter followers, said he will still use the social media site.
“I don’t believe I’ll use it the same way, that’s for sure,” he said.
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz
©2011 Community News Group
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