While House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi stopped short of calling for Rep. Anthony Weiner to resign, her demand for an ethics investigation into his online affairs clearly signaled that her Caucus thinks it's time for him to go.
Democrats said Pelosi's unprecedented decision to swiftly call for an ethics investigation — and her harsh words for the New York Democrat — has sent a not-so-subtle sign that leadership does not want to see a protracted scandal at a time when Democrats are battling for control of the House.
"From a leadership standpoint, they've got to show they forced his hand," one Democratic consultant said. "It's so blatant. They don't want to see something drawn out, and it's not going to be the majority's position to resolve this quickly."
Although Pelosi's office declined to comment on the matter, Democrats close to the Minority Leader said that when it became clear Weiner had lied not only to his family and the media but also to the entire Democratic Caucus, Pelosi was not going to let him off the hook.
"She wasn't going to give him a break. There's just no question about that," a Democratic source close to Pelosi said.
"We've lost some time" in the party's efforts to hammer Republicans over Medicare, the source added.
Pelosi's handling of Weiner's scandal — which centers on a series of online affairs and lewd pictures of himself that he sent to women via Twitter, Facebook and text message — is strikingly different from how she has handled previous instances of Democrats having ethical woes. Weiner admitted Monday that he had inappropriate online relationships with at least six women over three years.
Pelosi on Tuesday officially asked the Ethics Committee to launch an investigation into Weiner's actions, saying that because the New York Democrat "disclosed conduct which he described as inappropriate ... an investigation by the Ethics Committee to determine whether the Rules of the House of Representatives have been violated is warranted."
Although Pelosi has sent similar letters to the committee in the past regarding Republicans — most notably asking for an investigation into former Majority Leader Tom DeLay (Texas) — she has never sent such a request when a Democrat is at the center of the scandal.
In previous scandals, Pelosi has tried to protect Members she is close with including then-Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) and her strong ally the late Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.).
With Weiner, however, Pelosi called for an ethics investigation within an hour of his Monday press conference.
In the case of Rangel, Pelosi had a long personal and political relationship with the New York icon, which in part led to her hesitancy to quickly condemn him over charges of corruption.