The congressman will take a leave of absence, against the wishes of top Democrats. A new cell phone image, meanwhile, appears to have been taken in a members-only House gym
There was more cringing among Democratic leaders on Sunday when new pictures of a partially clad Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) -- some reportedly taken inside the House members' gym and sent online to at least one woman -- became public, adding another raunchy twist to two weeks or revelations about the congressman's "sexting" misconduct.
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The photos were posted by the entertainment website TMZ, a day after Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other top Democrats called for Weiner to resign, following days of revelations about Weiner's sordid social networking habits, including news that Weiner had traded private messages with a 17-year-old girl.
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But the congressman, through a spokeswoman, announced he instead was taking a leave of absence to get professional treatment and get healthy, to be able to make the best decision for himself, his family, and his constituents. In releasing the new photos on Sunday, TMZ questioned whether they might also establish that Weiner, in fact, went beyond offensive conduct with his lewd behavior, to have also have violated House ethics rules by using congressional resources to carry on some of his cyberaffairs.
Pelosi has already asked the House Ethics Committee to look into that possibility, though Weiner has insisted he used only his own BlackBerry and computer, and no congressional resources. However, one of the 11 photos TMZ has obtained shows an image of Weiner posing in what appears to be a locker room with just a towel around his waist, apparently taken by the congressman himself in front of a mirror with a BlackBerry.
Another image shows him wearing even less, with only a washcloth or small towel covering his crotch. One photo shows him on the gym floor with a blue tank top. TMZ.com said it has confirmed the photos had been sent online to at least one woman, and that the backdrop was the House Members Gym in the basement of the Rayburn House Office Building.
Whether simply taking photos from a congressional gym, or office, represents using congressional resources is uncertain. Weiner's spokeswoman, Risa Heller, who has said Weiner already has departed for his rehab, declined comment to National Journal on the new photos. She has not said where he is getting treatment. But House Democrats are getting their doses of punishment over Weiner in public. In a square-off on NBC's "Meet the Press" with Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) on Sunday, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus accused Democrats of not acting swiftly enough in the Weiner affair.