Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-New York) has requested a leave of absence from the House to enter rehab to deal with the problems that led him to conduct inappropriate electronic relationships with women before and during his marriage.
The Democratic lawmaker has been under siege from Democratic and Republican colleagues to resign after he first lied about--and then acknowledged--his reckless behavior, but has refused to comply. In a Marist poll of his district released last Thursday, 56 percent of respondents agreed with his decision.
“Congressman Weiner departed this morning to seek professional treatment to focus on becoming a better husband and healthier person. In light of that, he will request a short leave of absence from the House of Representatives so that he can get evaluated and map out a course of treatment to make himself well,” read a statement that his office released to Politico Saturday afternoon. “Congressman Weiner takes the views of his colleagues very seriously and has determined that he needs this time to get healthy and make the best decision possible for himself, his family and his constituents.”
Weiner has been steadfast in his refusal to step down, even after calls for his resignation intensified when news that he’d exchanged private Twitter messages with a 17-year-old girl in Delaware came to light. He has maintained that the exchanges were not “explicit or indecent.”
Top Democratic leaders, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Congressional Committee Chairman Steve Israel and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, are all digging their heels as deeply as Weiner with continued demands for him to leave Congress. Although he hopes to hang onto his job as other lawmakers have after sex scandals, including former President Bill Clinton, who is a close friend, and Sen. David Vitter (R-Louisiana), Democrats are in no mood for such a distraction as they fight to regain control of the House in 2012.
“It is with great disappointment that I call on Rep. Anthony Weiner to resign. The behavior he has exhibited is indefensible and Representative Weiner's continued service in Congress is untenable,” Wasserman Schultz said in a statement released in response to his decision to seek treatment. “This sordid affair has become an unacceptable distraction for Representative Weiner, his family, his constituents and the House--and for the good of all, he should step aside and address those things that should be most important--his and his family's well-being.”
The decision to seek rehab could be Weiner’s way of gracefully stepping aside after defiantly refusing to do so in the past several days. According to the New York Times, his resolve may be weakening.
“He was falling apart,” a friend of Weiner’s told the publication.
(Photo: AP Photo/David Karp)