A teary Rep. Anthony Weiner on Monday dismissed calls by conservative activists and Republicans that he resign over revelations that he has carried on what he admitted were inappropriate online relationships with a half-dozen women. But the New York Democrat's confession that he sent photos and sexually explicit messages to several women over the past three years prompted a swift rebuke from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who called for an ethics investigation.
The California Democrat said in a statement she wants "to determine whether any official resources were used or any other violation of House rules occurred." Her statement was soon followed by one from Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who last week defended Weiner by telling reporters the Congressman's Twitter feed used to send a lewd photo had been hacked. A Hoyer spokeswoman said the Ethics Committee should look into the matter, while Weiner promised in a statement to "fully cooperate" with any investigation.
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel had similarly harsh words for his fellow New York lawmaker. Weiner has "engaged in a deep personal failure and inappropriate behavior that embarrassed himself, his family, and the House," Israel said in a statement.
During a hastily arranged press conference Monday afternoon, Weiner said he was not resigning and that he does not believe he has violated any laws or House rules.
"I deeply regret what I have done, and I am not resigning," he said. "I certainly used bad judgment here, that's for sure."
It is unclear whether Weiner will face any legal or ethical consequences. He said Monday he did not think he used government resources to send any pictures, but that may not matter. There are no House rules that prohibit him from sending personal — even lewd — pictures on a government computer.
The House Members' Handbook states that "limited use of government resources to access the Internet, to send or receive personal e-mail, or to make personal phone calls is permissible, so long as the use ... conforms with the Regulations of the Committee on House Administration and the Code of Official Conduct (House Rule XXIV)."
That House rule basically prohibits using official funds for campaign purposes or using personal or campaign funds to pay for office expenses, but it is silent on using official resources for personal purposes.
The danger for Weiner would be the general ethics clause that Members should "conduct themselves at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House." But ethics experts suggest that standard is usually applied only in connection with other ethics violations, not as a stand-alone offense.