Lee apologizes to donors, pledges refunds
March 14th, 2011
08:37 AM ET
4 years ago

Lee apologizes to donors, pledges refunds

(CNN) – Chris Lee, the New York congressman who resigned his post abruptly last month after it was revealed he had posted shirtless photos of himself on the website Craigslist, is now refunding the money he raised during 2010 and formally apologizing to more than 1,100 donors.

"I regret very much how my actions affected my family, staff and constituents," writes the Republican in a letter that some recipients received last week, according to the Buffalo News. "I make no excuses for my behavior. It was wrong."

Lee quickly stepped down last month hours after the gossip website Gakwer posted a shirtless photo of Lee which the ex-congressman had reportedly sent to a woman he met on Craigslist. Lee, who is married and has a son, said in a short statement at the time that he had made "profound mistakes."

"Now, as a private citizen, my first priority is to try and pull back together a life for my family," Lee also wrote in the letter to former contributors. "God willing, with the continued support of family and friends, it will happen."

According to a filing with the Federal Elections Commission at the end of 2010, Lee has nearly $750,000 cash on hand and raised more than $1.7 million last year. In an interview with the Buffalo News, Lee pledged every contributor would be refunded in full.

Lee, whose district ran north and east of Buffalo, easily defeated businessman Philip Fedele in November. A special election has been set for May 24 to fill the seat. New York State Assembly member Jane Corwin, a former businesswoman, has the support of the local GOP chapter while Democrats have yet to announce support for a candidate.


Filed under: Chris Lee • New York
soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. Marie MD

    This guy was doing something else that was worse or he had more skeletond inthe closet. No rethug runs away when they break all that preachy family values bs. They stick together and come out smelling like today's trash instead of yesterday's!!

    March 14, 2011 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  2. Republicans Are The American Taliban

    Let's see...he believes in a forgiving God...and will be back on the ticket next election cycle as a "reborn" candidate!

    March 14, 2011 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  3. Patrick Lewis

    So where is the money going to come from to refund the contributors? It looks like he's short a cool million.

    And let's be real, he isn't sorry, he's just sorry he got caught.

    March 14, 2011 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  4. jules sand-perkins

    I can see that Lee's flirtation would affect his marriage, but what kind of prudes would expect him to resign from his job? How well was he performing in his work?
    We've all seen shirtless photographs of the President. I think he's in a little better shape than Lee, but Lee is a little bigger.
    Nobody, as far as I know, wanted Obama to resign because of his being in shape.
    Now, if Governor Haley Barbour starts publishing shirtless photographs of himself, there will be a cause for concern.

    March 14, 2011 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  5. ja

    no mystery why the country is in trouble, with the self righteous (hypocrits) governing

    March 14, 2011 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  6. House Majority Speaker John Boehner

    All is forgiven, we are all humans, we all make mistakes --so be it!

    March 14, 2011 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  7. lgny

    I'm sure many will revile him in these blog postings, but if he delivers on his promises, he deserves respect for doing the right thing by cleaning up his home life and returning the many donations that he has received.

    March 14, 2011 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  8. Darth Vadik, CA

    This is ridiculous...

    As a Democrat and a staunch Liberal, I really don't care about Rep. Lee having a few thrills on Craigslist. Everyone has gone on different dating sites and played around seeing if anyone will look at us, it's a self ego thing. It's a cheap thrill and no one cares.

    What worries me are people like the moron up in Wisconsin who is destroying the middle class America, not some Congressman getting a cheap thrill.

    March 14, 2011 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  9. JHA in Texas

    As former Republican Speaker of The House Newt Gingrich is so fond of saying, he prays that there is a merciful God (otherwise he is going to burn big time), that all is forgiven!. Go forth and sin no more! Prayers are with you.

    March 14, 2011 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  10. EddyL

    WELL BOO HOO. How stupid can you be?

    March 14, 2011 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  11. RobA

    It would be nice if politicians would begin to realize that their status in society makes it impossible for them to do stupid things and not be caught. I'm sick of the Republicans caught in perverse scandals who resign while shouting "I still support family values!" the whole time. And I'm sick of Democrats caught in bribery scandals who resign while shouting "I still support the people over evil corporations!"

    March 14, 2011 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  12. Bessy

    Amazing ! A Republican who is actually trying to do the right thing. I guess every so often one with a concience slips into their ranks. He still did the wrong thing and I hope he doesn't have one of those " all is forgiven " wives.
    Heavy counseling needed for this man.

    March 14, 2011 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  13. Tim

    And if he were a Democrat, CNN wouldn't use the term disgraced, and in fact he wouldn't be disgraced, it would just be a normal thing.

    March 14, 2011 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  14. Dave

    After what is happening in Japan and what happened to Representative Giffords, who the heck cares what happens to this clown or what he does?

    March 14, 2011 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  15. Joe

    Is he giving pictures with the refunds?

    March 14, 2011 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  16. WDRussell

    He will join Newt's new 'adultery is patriotic party'. They will get the complete support of the religious right, who gave up being Christians decades ago.

    March 14, 2011 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  17. Clwyd

    The whole party is a disgrace!

    March 14, 2011 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  18. Howard

    Well, give the man props for doing the right things. When confronted with the truth, he quickly resigned instead of trying to "spin it" or asking his wife to humiliate herself by standing with him while he tried to save his career. Now, he's refunding the money donated to his campaign. Frankly, after spending a reasonable period of time in the political wilderness, maybe he ought to consider running for office again. His values are demonstrably better than a lot of the jerks still serving in office.

    March 14, 2011 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  19. dofacc

    Wow, the man has actual character. I am impressed. Not by what he did, but by the way he is taking responsibility for what he did. A very unusual thing to see in our current crop of politicians (and run of the mill smucks).

    March 14, 2011 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  20. Diana

    Wait a minute . . . did he say "God willing" . . .

    March 14, 2011 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  21. Proud member of "Globesl Zero"

    I am not a fan of Republicans, but more so not a fan of cheaters. His best bet is to care for his family, or what is left of it and STAY OUT OF THE SPOT LIGHT. The more you bring this to the public view, the worse it is for your family. Stay away from the press. It break your families heart every time you force us to see this.

    March 14, 2011 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  22. Tammy

    I just don't get what the BFD was with what this guy did. A president and his brother had an affair with Marilyn Mondroe, while another one of his brothers was caught up in a scandal of an a woman drowning, another president porking Monica Lewinksy, lying under oath about it, a president who fabricated lies just to start to send our troops off to our troops off to war and all the while the American people of this nation has had NO problem supporting these men. However, let a Congressman take his shirt off, send it to another woman and just like that his career is over and the American people want blood. Did I miss something?

    March 14, 2011 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  23. Joe

    Here's what he really wanted to put in that letter...

    "If this hadn't gotten out, I was going to continue covering up this internet cheating until I got out of office...and probably beyond. That "wife" of mine that I claimed to love so much on the campaign trail, that was just "fluff" to make you and her feel good. My true love lies with random strangers on the internet!! I put a ring a your noses and lead you all the way to the ballot box and I was going to continue to deceive you stupid voters. I was going to ride the government gravy train all the way into a plush lobbying job after I left office; I can still do it, but from a distance...like China or Utah or the Space Station. I was going to make appearances on CNN and FOX News talking about how immoral and un-American some people are to keep you conservatives happy and your minds numb. And make appearances and tell lies on behalf of presidential candidates. I had you people in the bag...but that bag is now soaked with bacon grease and has a big hole in it. Damn you First Amendment!"

    I didn't see any of that in the letter...yet had the pics not been exposed, don't you think that's EXACTLY what he would have done? Considering he was already doing most of it, my answer would be yes. Isn't that what most of them do until they are exposed for the two-faced money-hungry liars they really are?

    March 14, 2011 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  24. Beadles

    His behavior was "wrong"? Talk about an understatement. Try Sick, Perverted, Stupid. What is it with politicians and their wee-wees? (Maybe the censor won't bleep that one!) Keep it in your pants and your hands to yourselves – unless the other person is your spouse (if you are married.) Did he really think that it wouldn't become public? Did he really believe the woman was too stupid to figure out who he was (or at least want to know more about him)? This behavior wouldn't have worked with a single guy. Hopefully he doesn't get his congressional retirement for life!

    March 14, 2011 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  25. indydave

    Sorry and apologetic now that he's caught, and not a minute before. Just like any Republican.

    March 14, 2011 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
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