Chris Lee quits House over flirt e-mail scandal

Congressman Chris Lee Mr Lee reportedly used his real name and address in the flirty e-mails

A married Republican congressman from New York state has resigned amid media reports he flirted online with a woman to whom he sent a shirtless photograph.

Chris Lee, 46, who has one son, was first elected to the US House of Representatives in 2008.

In a statement on his website, he said he regretted harming his family, staff and constituents, adding: "I deeply and sincerely apologise to them all."

Republicans gained control of the House in the November mid-term elections.

"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," Mr Lee said.

Mr Lee stood down hours after news and gossip website Gawker.com posted e-mail correspondence it said had been sent between the congressman and a 34-year-old single woman he met on the classifieds site Craigslist.

Mr Lee did not confirm the media reports or specify the reasons behind his resignation, other than acknowledging having "made profound mistakes".

Muscle flexed

The woman, who has not been identified, had posted a note in the "women seeking men" section saying she was looking for an attractive and "financially and emotionally secure" man aged 30 to 40, Gawker reported.

A screenshot from Gawker.com Gawker declared "Craigslist congressman resigns" and published what it said was his shirtless image

In the e-mails, Mr Lee - who used his real name and e-mail address - described himself inaccurately as a 39-year-old divorced lobbyist, Gawker said.

He said he was a "fit fun classy guy", and sent a photograph of himself posing shirtless in dark slacks in front of a mirror, flexing a bicep.

Mr Lee, who was elected to his second two-year term in November, has been a relatively low-profile, backbench member of the Republican House caucus.

Last year, a congressional ethics panel launched an inquiry after Mr Lee held a fundraising event within 48 hours of a House vote on a financial services regulation reform bill, which he voted against.

The panel dropped the matter in January.

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