The resignation on Thursday of Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., followed a scandal that began with a report that he sent a lewd Twitter message to a female college student in Washington state. After first claiming his Twitter account had been hacked, he acknowledged sending the message and sending inappropriate messages to at least five other women. One woman turned out to be a 17-year-old girl from Delaware, and other communication was made with a porn star. What's next for Weiner and for his spot in the House:
1. Now that he'll be leaving his $174,000-a-year job, can Weiner just live off dividend income, or does he have to work?
According to financial-disclosure forms released on Wednesday, Weiner has investments in Hewlett-Packard, Corning, 3M, Dow Chemical, and Sony that are worth as much as $117,000. And he would clearly be better off if the scandal doesn’t also cost him his wife, Huma Abedin, an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The filings show that Weiner, 46, has an investment portfolio worth $16,017 to $117,000. His financial activity for 2010 involved buying into and unloading a number of companies, including the purchase of an interest worth $1,001 to $15,000 in Live Nation, the live-entertainment and e-commerce company. Still, the single largest asset listed (the filings do not require including details about a lawmaker's primary residence) is shared with his wife—between $100,001 and $250,000 in the NIH Federal Credit Union.
2. How long will it take to elect a successor?
Once New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo officially recognizes the vacant congressional seat, under a change in state law, he has to set an election date within 70 to 80 days. Cuomo, however, can take his time in making that recognition.
3. Who are the prospective successors?
Republican New York City Councilman Eric Ulrich has reportedly met with former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and has his blessing. Other Republicans mentioned as possible candidates: Bob Turner, the party's 2010 nominee, and New York state Judge Noach Dear, who ran against Weiner as a Democrat in 1998 and later switched parties to oppose him (again unsuccessfully) in the general election. Democratic names being circulated include New York City Councilman Mark Weprin and ex-Council members Melinda Katz and Eric Gioia.
4. Who has credit for the disclosure that led to Weiner's fall?
Right-wing new-media upstart Andrew Breitbart was the first to report on the lewd tweet to the college student in Washington state. He also brought Meagan Broussard, who had shared photographs Weiner had sent, to ABC News.
New York Times media critic David Carr said Breitbart has a key understanding about the role of media. “It’s not ubiquity of information that drives’’ the news agenda, Carr told a crowd after a viewing of the documentary Page One on Wednesday night in Washington. “It’s scarcity.’’
The controversial Breitbart doles out information bit by bit, a key lesson, he writes in his memoir, Righteous Indignation, that he learned while working with Arianna Huffington on the Huffington Post. As Huffington meted out pieces of a scandal involving former U.S. Ambassador M. Larry Lawrence, so, too, did Breitbart let his reporting out step by step on his work on the community-organizing group ACORN.
In the Weiner case, Breitbart's decision to involve ABC News to drive his story was akin to the choice the group WikiLeaks made in picking The New York Times and The Guardian, among others, to sift through leaked U.S. diplomatic and intelligence cables.
5. Will this be an issue that Republicans can use against Democrats?
At their peril. Sex scandals seem to be an equal-opportunity issue in Washington. House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, took pains to focus on the Obama administration's Libya policy in comments earlier on Thursday. Boehner moved in swiftly to encourage the resignation of Rep. Christopher Lee, R.-N.Y., after a photograph emerged of a bare-chested Lee that Lee had sent to a woman on a Craigslist chat.