The Woman Behind 'Craigslist Congressman' Chris Lee's Downfall
In the midst of an embarrassing scandal broken by the gossip and media blog Gawker, Rep. Christopher Lee (R-NY) resigned from his seat in shame. In less than three hours from when the story broke on Wednesday he was suddenly in retreat. Denials of a computer hack turned into needing to spend time with the wife. But who was the woman at the center of the drama? And how did it all really go down?
"Dating in D.C. sucks," she said as we chatted by phone late Wednesday night, mere hours after Lee's resignation. "You know the women outnumber the men and therefore the men have their way. It's like easy pickings for the men. They have so many options. They have people in Maryland. They have women in D.C. They have women in Virginia. They have women on the Internet. Therefore, living in D.C., everything is at your disposal. A lot of women take people’s word as bond. They don’t investigate."
But she did. And the end result was a resignation from Congress.
Anonymous D.C. dater agreed to talk to me, as long as she stayed anonymous. We'd met before through a mutual friend. She's a professional, single and successful, 34-year-old African American woman, dating and socializing in "the diamond district." Her weekends are spent sharing cocktails in posh spots and chatting about the latest news and gossip with friends. Having lived in the area for eight years now, she's a regular scenester in D.C. nightspots and didn't feel like getting her name dragged into the fray. After all, the leggy-glamazon works in government. No need to potentially freak out her employers.
But truth is, she didn't know he was a congressman. After all, it had started out as a joke. She'd done the online dating scene. She'd done D.C.'s dating scene (which she described as abysmal) and lamented how so many men lied. About their height. About their jobs. About their age.
And about their marital status.
It seems Rep. Christopher Lee of New York had pulled three-out-of-four on her. At least his height seemed to match the media reports.
Here's what she had to say:
TheLoop21:How did this first come about?
Anonymous:I was bored one day. And I posted a tongue-in-cheek post on Craigslist basically trying to see what was out there, as far as you know, in men. I was not looking for a hook up and I thought it would be fun to see what type of men would send me their photos.
TheLoop21: Do you date online or post ads like this often?
Anonymous:I have dated online. And I do use Craigslist to promote my design work on the side and look for design clients. A few weeks back, I was looking at the photos that some of the men were posting on their personals there and they were fairly unattractive men.
I wanted them to prove to me that they were not trolls. It was all tongue-in-cheek.
TheLoop21: How many responded?
Anonymous: About 30.
TheLoop21:What did you think when you first saw Chris Lee's photo? Did you recognize him?
Anonymous: No. I originally thought the photo was fake because it looked like a JC Penney’s ad. The second email I sent to him was like, do you have anything more than a JC Penney’s ad. I just assumed it was a fake person sending me a fake photo. After he sent me the second photo I was like "Oh, he’s not too bad looking."
TheLoop21:When you wrote him back and forth, what did you two talk about?
Anonymous: Basic conversations. If he’s ever met anyone from Craigslist before. If he was married. If he had any kids.
[Lee told her he was "divorced," but had a son. Lee is actually still very much married.]
TheLoop21:Did you tell anyone about him? Did you show anyone the pictures?
Anonymous:I did. I showed several of the photos to two friends at lunch of all the different men who were emailing me. One friend in particular thought he looked “distinguished.”
TheLoop21:When did you start to get suspicious?
Anonymous: I didn’t suspect anything was up. I’m inquisitive. I figured I’d snoop to see if he had a Facebook page. I didn’t expect to see anyting out of the normal. So I copied and pasted his email in Facebook and came across his page. Then I saw that his employer was listed as the United States Congress. He said he was a lobbyist. That’s when I Googled his name.
TheLoop21:What were you thinking as you realized he was in Congress?
Anonymous:First reaction was holy sh*t. Second was, he’s probably done this before. Third was, he’s married. Fourth was, oh my God he's 46-years-old.
[Lee had originally told Anonymous he was in his late 30s.]
TheLoop21:Did you tell anyone?
Anonymous:Yes. I told [a close friend]. She was like holy sh*t. Then we investigated further, found his personal Facebook page and we were able to confirm through his friends list that he was the real deal.
Anonymous:My friend said I should give it to Gawker, but I did not want to be exposed. I wanted to remain anonymous, but she assured me Gawker would keep me anonymous.
TheLoop21:How did it all go down with Gawker?
Anonymous:I told Gawker last week, so a couple weeks had passed, three weeks almost. I didn’t tell Gawker immediately.
TheLoop21:How did Gawker get in touch with you?
Anonymous:Through [a friend].
TheLoop21:What was going through your mind just as the story was about to go public?
Anonymous: I was excited, but nervous hoping that I could remain anonymous.
TheLoop21: What did you think of Gawker's story?
Anonymous: I didn’t appreciate being called a middle-aged woman but besides that it was great. [Laughs] Thirty-four is not middle-aged.
TheLoop21:What did you think about Lee's story that his account was hacked?
Anonymous: I figured bullsh*t.
That was their way of cleaning up the situation and we assumed he would say that anyway.
TheLoop21:Did you ever expect that he would resign?
Anonymous: Not at all. That was the least of what I would expected to happen.
TheLoop21:Where were you when you found out he resigned and how did you find out?
Anonymous:I was out on a date. I went on Twitter and found out he resigned. And then I received an email from Gawker.
TheLoop21: What do you think about all this, the end result? Do you feel bad about what happened to Congressman Lee?
Anonymous: No. Chances are he’s probably met more women online and you know, cheaters eventually get caught. He didn’t have to resign. He made that choice himself.
TheLoop21: Why do you think he resigned?
Anonymous: Probably a bigger picture. Emails were exchanged. Something bigger is going on in his background. You never get caught the first time.
TheLoop21:What's the lesson in all this?
Anonymous:The lesson is if you’re going to do dirt, do it anonymously. People cheat everyday, but only dumb people get caught.