He texted lewd photographs of himself to a young woman – after resigning from Congress for the very same thing. But New York mayoral hopeful Anthony Weiner says he’s staying in the race.
His cover name was Carlos Danger and – according to the latest allegations – he carried on an explicit online affair with a young woman for six months. That was after he had resigned from Congress over a similar sexting scandal, and after the birth of his son.
Last night Anthony Weiner admitted he had carried on sexting – and his wife Huma Abedin appeared alongside him, declaring that although it had been a difficult decision, she had forgiven him for the sake of their marriage.
Details of the photographs – some of them extremely explicit – and chats between Weiner and the young woman, were published by an Arizona based gossip site, The Dirty. It claimed the messages began in July 2012, and carried on until the start of this year.
Despite the revelations, Weiner insisted he was still staying in the race, declaring the whole thing was now behind him. “I’m responsible for that behaviour that’s led us to be in this place, but in many ways things aren’t that much different than they were yesterday”.
I said that other texts and photos were likely to come out, and today they have. Anthony Weiner
“I want to bring my vision to the people of the city of New York”, he went on. “I hope they are willing to still continue to give me a second chance”. At the moment, Weiner is still ahead of his rivals in the polls, 49 days before the primary election which will select the Democratic candidate for the post.
He brushed aside demands from his opponents that he should withdraw from the race, suggesting that he had already alerted New Yorkers to the possibility that more scandals could emerge. “I said that other texts and photos were likely to come out, and today they have”.
According to the website Buzzfeed, the woman in question is a political activist from Indiana in her early twenties, a former field organiser for Obama from America who had listed Wiener as number 3 in her list of personal heroes.
They claim the woman wrote several posts about him, insisting he “did nothing wrong”, and that he could carry on sending photographs of his anatomy “every single day for the rest of his life as long as he continues to legislate like he does”.
Copies of the message exchanges printed by the site include an instruction from the man to “hard delete al our chats here”. None of the details have been confirmed, and the woman identified in the Buzzfeed post has not responded to inquiries from the website.
Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, who worked as a senior aide to the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, appeared alongside her husband to express her support, saying it had taken a long time to get beyond the sexting scandal in 2011.
“It took a lot of work and a whole lot of therapy to get to the place where I could forgive Anthony”, she revealed. But, she said, the couple had wanted to give their marriage a try.
Putting yourself out there comes with a cost. Huma Abedin
“What I want to say is, I love him, I have forgiven him, I believe in him, and as we have said from the beginning, we are moving forward.”
Ms Abedin, who has always kept her private life just that, has now written a longer essay for the September issue of Harper’s Bazzar, titled The Good Wife, in homage to the TV series about the wife of a philandering Democratic politician who decides, eventually, to stick with him.
“Putting yourself out there comes with a cost”, she admits, telling Buzzfeed, “I just try to be a supportive spouse”. She has been active on the campaign trail, raising tens of thousands of dollars for her husband’s election funds.
New Yorkers may turn out to be a forgiving lot: the former state governor Eliot Spitzer is back in public life, running for the post of city comptroller, five years after he was forced to resign over a high-class prostitution scandal.
Weiner’s problem is that he has a track record of lying to cover up his misdeeds: even this week, he has proved extraordinarily evasive about the whole sequence of events.
Whether the voters turn out to be as forgiving as his wife remains to be seen.
Felicity Spector writes about US affairs for Channel 4 News