ATF Loses Friend on the Hill Who Got Caught Up in Scandal

Gawker photo
By Allan Lengel

WASHINGTON — ATF has lost a good friend on Capitol Hill.

Rep. Chris Lee (R-N.Y.), who forcefully and repeatedly made public statements defending ATF agent Will Clark, who was charged with  murder in the Virgin Islands, abruptly resigned Wednesday in the wake of a scandal.  A judge eventually the dismissed the charges against Clark.

The scandal with Congressman Lee surfaced Wednesday afternoon when the website Gawker reported that Lee, a married second-term Congressman, had sent flirtatious e-mails and a shirtless photo of himself to a woman he met online through Craigslist.

Gawker said he posed online as a a 39-year-old divorced lobbyist and sent a “PG picture to the woman from the ad.” The site noted that Lee is 46, married and has one son.

By the end of the day, Lee resigned and posted a statement on his website: “It has been a tremendous honor to serve the people of Western New York. I regret the harm that my actions have caused my family, my staff and my constituents. 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.

“The challenges we face in Western New York and across the country are too serious for me to allow this distraction to continue, and so I am announcing that I have resigned my seat in Congress effective immediately.”

Lee had been a staunch defender of ATF  Agent Clark, who had been charged with murder in 2008 in the shooting of a neighbor in the Virgin Islands where he had been stationed. Clark claimed it was self defense and several supporters including Lee insisted that was the case. Last October, during trial, a judge in Virgin Islands dismissed the case on a technicality.

Following the ruling last year, Lee issued a statement saying:

“As I have said from the beginning, Will is a hero, not a murderer, and I’m so grateful the Judge looked at the facts of the case and agreed.”

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