From Photoshop to pervy pickpockets, we take a look at dubious excuses given by politicians facing photo scandals
When leading anti-gay activist George Alan Rekers was photographed returning from a two-week European vacation with a 20-year-old male prostitute in tow, it was time for critical damage control. The 61-year-old claimed that he "requires an assistant to lift his luggage in his travels because of an ongoing condition following surgery"; it just so happened that he hired a strapping young blond who advertised sexual services on Rentboy.com. His companion initially denied having had a sexual relationship with the then-board member of the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality, but he eventually told the press that he had provided Rekers with daily sexual massages during their travels.
New York Republican Rep. Christopher Lee will forever be known as "The Craigslist Congressman" -- and for being behind the quickest denial-turned-confession in the history of political sex scandals. The married politico sent a bare-chested photo to a 34-year-old woman looking online for a casual encounter, but when she found out that he was lying about being divorced, she forwarded the snapshot to Gawker. The then-46-year-old's spokesman told the site, "The Congressman is happily married. The only time he or his wife posted something online was to sell old furniture when they changed the apartment they keep in DC." Three hours later, he confessed and resigned.
Former Rep. Anthony Weiner's tried every trick in the book to explain away the crotch shot tweeted via his account to a 21-year-old follower. First, he suggested that his account had been hacked. Then, he implied the photo had been doctored: "Maybe it did start being a photo of mine and now looks something different or maybe it is from another account." In a now infamous dodge, he told CNN, "It certainly doesn't look familiar to me, but I don't want to say with certitude to you something that I don’t know to be the certain truth." In response to a question from MSNBC's Rachel Maddow about whether the substantial bulge was his, he had the gall to kid: "Am I allowed to say I wish?" When another photo -- this time of his bare, flexed chest -- was released, he was forced to come clean.
Soon after Weinergate, Canada had its own tweeted crotch-shot scandal. After a full-frontal was posted on politician George Lepp's Twitter account, he claimed that his phone was stolen by "pickpockets" and that they must have been responsible for the illicit tweet. However, the Toronto Sun reported that Alan Sakach, communications director for the Progressive Conservative Party, said the photo was accidentally taken on Lepp's phone while it was in his front pocket -- which seems to defy all logic, unless the politician has clear pockets and goes commando. Alternate theory: His BlackBerry has magic X-ray technology.
When photos of Republican Puerto Rican Sen. Roberto Arango were discovered on Grindr, the politician explained, "You know I've been losing weight. As I shed that weight, I've been taking pictures." One might wonder why the anti-gay politician decided to show off his new body through a gay hookup service -- but Arango never confirmed that the photos were actually of him, or that he had posted them through the app. He did, however, promptly resign.
Clearly, Mayor Chris Myers of Medford, N.J., has learned nothing from his predecessors. When a male prostitute published photos allegedly of the Republican politician sleeping above the covers in his Calvin Klein briefs, Myers hinted that the images might not be of him: "I've been down that road before, where a photo has been photoshopped to look like something it wasn't." Then again, maybe they are, because next he suggested that someone might have broken into his hotel room and snapped the photos. This takes "deny, deny, deny" to a whole new, creative level.