Newark Mayor Cory Booker is known for engaging in casual banter on Twitter with people from all walks of life, and one of those private exchanges with an exotic dancer was made public Wednesday.
And a Booker spokesman said the mayor doesn't regret it.
"It is obviously pretty innocuous and quite frankly there is nothing there," Booker spokesman Kevin Griffis said about the mayor's interaction with the stripper, Lynsie Lee.
Now before your mind starts racing, it does not appear to rise to the level of "Weinergate" – the salacious scandal involving former Rep. Anthony Weiner, who was caught sending explicit pictures to a woman in Indiana.
But there are similarities: when the stories broke, each man was in the middle of a political campaign (Weiner for New York mayor, Booker for U.S. Senate) and both are Democrats. Buzzfeed was the first to report the "Booker Exchange”. It also brought national attention to the Weiner scandal, which was first reported on a little known gossip website.
But from what we know, it appears that is where the comparison ends.
Weiner is married, Booker is not. Weiner sent raunchy photos, while Booker just had a conversation with a stripper.
Weiner apologized for his actions. Booker, sees no reason to do so.
The “Booker Exchange” appears to have begun when Lee, who describes herself as a “stripper … model … weirdo” from Portland on her Twitter page, declared in a public tweet to Booker that “if you’re ever POTUS I call dibs on First Lady.”
Let’s be honest, Lee would not be your typical politician’s wife, let alone first lady of the United States given her profession and racy photographs and videos she has posted online.
After another woman suggested she had a close relationship with the Newark mayor because of their private Twitter conversations, Lee posted her own private exchange she had with Booker in February.
“And the East Coast loves you and by the East Coast, I mean me,” Booker writes in the private message to Lee. She responded, “Well now I’m blushing.” To which Booker said, “Its only fair.”
Pretty tame considering what Weiner did – sending an explicit photo of himself and engaging in sexual conversations online and over the telephone.
But so goes the pitfalls and perils of Twitter for politicians, as every online move they make is being watched.
Do you remember the embarrassing episode involving Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tennessee, who appeared to engage in a flirtatious interaction with a young woman? It turned out Cohen in fact did know the woman, but he thought she was his daughter from a prior relationship. No one else knew that Cohen was just engaging in what he believed was a harmless Twitter conversation between a father and daughter. How did it end? Well, not so good. The congressman later learned through a paternity test that she, in fact, was not his child.
Confused? How could you not be? People are revealing more personal information through social media than one would have ever thought of doing just a few years ago. There are no hard fast rules about how to interact in social media and politicians just like everyone else, are learning as they go along.
“The mayor is well known for communicating with people from all walks of life," Griffis said. "He is a real person and he has normal human interactions on Twitter."
Griffis, who regularly referred to the exchange of messages as "normal human interactions," said he did not know if Booker knew Lee was a stripper, but said even if he did, the mayor wouldn't have passed judgment because of her profession.
"I think he is the kind of person that doesn't judge other people or pass judgment on them," Griffis said. "They are trying to make a living and not hurting anybody else."
And Griffis said Booker finds it "amusing" that people find this sort of interaction "unusual."
As for the fascination about Booker's social media habits, Griffis said that because Twitter is a "relatively new way to communicate" people in the political world don't "know quite what to make of interaction that is not scripted 24-7."
Hours after Buzzfeed published the story, Booker addressed the issue himself by taking a poke at the editor-in-chief of Buzzfeed, through a Twitter message, of course.
“Alright @BuzzFeedBen, last time I ever appear in a film with you!” Booker tweeted in apparent reference to the documentary “Follow Friday the Film” in which Buzzfeed reports the mayor, Smith and Lee all appeared in.
For her part, Lee is standing by Booker – urging people to support his campaign and reveling in her newfound celebrity.
“do I need to hire a publicist to tell me when to post nudes now? these 5 min of fame are gonna be tough for my daddy issues.”
If Sydney Leathers is any indication, we suspect Lee’s time in the national spotlight will be longer than five minutes.
As for Booker, he is leading his GOP opponent in all of the polls and it is widely expected he is going to win the October special election.
seriously nothing but a distraction from reality
I agree with Griffis, Lee is trying to make a living and not hurting any one else. As for words, Jesus might have said the words "I love you" to Lee. I would add that the story is more positive than it is negative.
Mr. Booker's political enemies seem to be trying anything that will stick. Just a few short weeks ago, they were floating the idea that Booker is gay.
I find Cory Booker to be fascinating on many different levels.
They are really digging down deep in the barrel of nothing.
It's not as if this woman is the only one he recognizes. That being said he's single ladies!
The GOTea cannot win unless they talk about things other than the issues. Soon you will see the N word and similar racist comments because they cannot win.
Those are alot of words for a non story
Cory, don't let these racist, bigots and malcontents try to throw you off course. They are good at what they do. All they have is hate for people of color, so don't be fooled. You have millions of good people of ALL races praying, standing up, backing and fighting for you. Lets push these crazies to the side. All power to the people.
This story is not even worthy of reporting, let alone the time I wasted reading it!
I am most assuredly a conservative but this is no big deal. The guy is unmarried, didn't do anything that would set him up for possible blackmail or extortion. I want the Republican to win but this shouldn't decide it.
Why is this a story???????????????????????????????????????????
where there's smoke there's fire...booker is trying to shrug it off as if he is a man of the people, talks to everyone... lol...ya, good one cory...
I don't care what he says, even talking to this scummed out chick is far beneath what we ought to expect of out leaders in society...its just poor judgement...
The internet is not private...!!!!!
Seriously? First he was gay, now he's talking to strippers. How about we focus on the real issues instead of distractions that hide the fact his opponents have no ideas beyond helping out their rich cronies. Booker's no saint, but I'm guessing most of us don't want a saint in office – we want someone who'll get the job done. The voters should and will decide who they think will do that. Time for the national media to stop falling to the level of the National Enquirer.
Well we can compare this headline to the headlines saying House Republicans want to strip greenhouse gas regulations which will affect the air we all breath. Oh wait, that story isn't being reported, sorry.
And so it begins....
A few weeks ago he was gay for getting mani/pedi's, now he's having an affair with a stripper. Yeah I know the article says it's nothing but we all know how the right could care less about the truth.
I don't believe it. Everyone knows he is gay.
not the smartest thing to do but nothing to worry about. Of course the titghtie righties will conveniently blow this up into a major scandal but it will still not help their candidate come even close to winning. As of now, it isn't even on Faux Snews!!
He must not work to hard if he has time to be on twitter chatting with people.. He's another typical politician..
The unstated assumption in the piece is that a politician MUST have a Twitter account, as if Twitter is something that must be dealt with in modern life, like acid rain.
I'd like to see a modern politician campaign without Twitter - could he or she win? I think so. May even help, given the details of Booker's story here.
This guy is another scumbag who needs to be thrown out of office in disgrace...
Who cares? And hes probably gay...it was just a conversation. She is a human being, not some "thing" to be shunned.
As a republican,
Jesus' best friend was a prostitute. This is a non issue.
I hope you're clean Booker because they are going to be all up in your business. From you being potty trained to how many times you get up at night looking for ANYTHING to discredit you with. Anything.