Embattled Congressman Anthony Weiner announced his resignation Thursday after a twenty-one day battle to save his job in wake of a lewd photo scandal. The social networking congressional lothario from Forrest Hills made the announcement at the Council Center For Senior Citizens.
Weiner steps down amid a hard-to-ignore sex scandal where he sent numerous lewd photos of himself to women over the Internet.
"Today, I'm announcing my resignation from Congress," Weiner said to a throng of reporters that gathered at the Queens senior center. The announcement was met with cheering hecklers who shouted at Weiner, interrupting the congressman's scripted address.
"Bye, bye pervert!" said one heckler, while another shouted, "Are you more than seven inches?"
Weiner took a pause before carrying on with his statement where he thanked his family, his staff and his wife Huma Abedin who sources say advised her husband to step down.
Abedin, 35, an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently returned from an overseas trip on Tuesday and reportedly counseled Weiner in his decision to resign.
Abedin was not present at Thursday's press conference.
The congressman alerted House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi about his decision to resign from Congress late Wednesday.
The New York Democrat becomes the third member of the U.S. Congress this year to step down because of a sex scandal.
Under pressure from President Barack Obama and both major political parties, Weiner had previously insisted on staying in his job, announcing instead that would seek treatment and take a "short leave" of absence from the House.
Weiner told Pelosi on Wednesday night he intends to resign, a Democratic source told Reuters.
"He told Pelosi last night," the source said.
Republicans and top Democrats had called for him to resign, saying the scandal had become a distraction on Capitol Hill.
Democrats feared that Weiner had become a political liability to their efforts to win back the House from Republicans in next year's elections. Weiner also had been seen as a strong contender for New York mayor in 2013.
Obama ramped up pressure on Weiner to resign on June 14, telling NBC News, "He's embarrassed his wife and his family .... If it was me, I would resign."
While the scandal generated plenty of headlines, Democrats would likely be favored to retain Weiner's House seat, which would be filled in a special election.
Democrats won Weiner's New York district in the past three presidential elections, and he was re-elected to a seventh term last year with 61 percent of the vote.
Weiner's abrupt political fall followed resignations from Congress earlier this year from two Republicans, Chris Lee of New York and John Ensign of Nevada, both of whom are married.
Lee resigned from the House on February 9. within hours after it was revealed he had sent a shirtless and flirtatious photo of himself to a woman he had met on Craigslist.
Ensign of Nevada resigned from the Senate in May in a failed bid to end a Senate ethics committee probe into his extramarital affair with a former campaign aide.
A Democrat won Lee's seat in a special election in New York in May, but Republicans still maintain control of the House by a wide margin, 240-193, with three vacancies.
Nevada's governor named a fellow Republican to temporarily fill Ensign's seat. Democrats figure they have a good chance to win it in the 2012 election.
Weiner's scandal reaffirmed the public perception that members of both political parties often behave poorly, analysts said. For a look at other U.S. political sex scandals, click on [ID:nN09263699].
Polls show that less than one in four Americans approve of Congress, which is often seen in partisan gridlock.
"Most people outside of Washington don't have much faith in any members up here, Democrat or Republican," said Nathan Gonzales of the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report.
"To most Americans, sadly, this (latest scandal) is par for the course when it comes to how members act," Gonzales said.
Just last November, Weiner easily won a seventh term in his Democratic-leaning district, bolstering his hopes of eventually being elected mayor of New York City.
But the scandal all but ended those hopes, riled fellow House Democrats and disgusted many of his constituents.
"Mayor? I don't think he should be dogcatcher," said Joe Mele, a blunt-talking New Yorker.
Weiner's wife, Abedin, was in the early stages of pregnancy with the couple's first child, The New York Times reported on June 8, citing unidentified people with knowledge of the situation.
Former President Bill Clinton officiated at their wedding last July amid much fanfare that Washington's newest power couple comprised Abedin, a Muslim, and Weiner, who is Jewish.
Ginger Lee, a former porn star and stripper, joined calls for Weiner to resign on Wednesday when she told a New York news conference that he had urged her to lie about their e-mail relationship in the hope that his sex scandal would die down.
"If he lied about this, I can't have much faith in him about anything else," Lee said.
(Portions of this article were supplemented by Reuters reporters Richard Cowan, Thomas Ferraro and Daniel Trotta; Editing by Anthony Boadle)Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun