Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Gawker Discloser and Chris Lee Resignation

Internet is one of the greatest inventions, which totally changed lives of many people. Mostly, for good… But, in some cases, the greater openness to the society of the individual private stories might bring unpleasant surprises. There is not a secret any more that some recruiters run online searches to check the prospective candidates on the Internet to see if there are no warning signs, which may prevent you from getting a job you like. But for public figures it may lead to disaster, running their political or professional careers.

Today, Gawker is in the spotlight. The resignation of Republican Congressman Chris Lee (D 26th District - NY) reveals another Political Sex Scandal. What happened was that Gawker, the main blog in the highly successful Gawker Media Network, ran a post of how the married Chris Lee was using Craigslist to find dates. Lee, apparently forgetting he was a public official, decided to send a photo of himself shirtless.

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Moreover, Lee confessed to the woman via text that he normally dates other women and he lied about his position, age, and marital status – he is definitely not divorced, and he is 46. Lee told the woman he was 39 and that he was a lobbyist, not an elected official from New York.

When the woman discovered Lee was lying on three counts, she cut off contact and sent his photo and information, including the text contact, to Gawker. The result is, when it hit the media, Lee and his staff tried to say while the email account indeed belongs to him, but it was highjacked. "The Congressman is happily married," the spokesman told Gawker. "The only time he or his wife posted something online was to sell old furniture when they changed the apartment they keep in DC."

That could, theoretically, be true. But the evidence suggests otherwise. The emails were sent more than a week before the alleged hack. The shirtless photo--which, according to metadata contained in the picture, was taken in Washington, D.C.-was taken with a Blackberry, the same mobile device that Lee uses, which means the hacker would have also accessed the photos on Lee's phone.

Eventually, and within the span of about 24 hours, Lee announced his resignation. Lee, who is 46 years old, was considered a rising star in the Republican Party. He is married with one child and serves on the powerful Ways and Means Committee.

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“I regret the harm that my actions have caused my family, my staff and my constituents,” Lee said in a statement. “I deeply and sincerely apologize to them all. I have made profound mistakes and I promise to work as hard as I can to seek their forgiveness.”

Lee’s statement did not confirm or deny any specific allegations from the Gawker report.

You are not a Congressman or any other elected official? Still, be careful with your public communication. It may cost your job and quite a significant discomfort in your family life. Remember, the secret stays the secret only up to the moment it is shared with just one other person.

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