Woman Behind Congressman Chris Lee's Craigslist Fallout Speaks Out

The woman behind the Congressman Craigslist photo scandal is speaking out.

ByDan Harris and Leezel Tanglao
February 11, 2011, 2:36 AM

Feb. 11, 2011— -- What began as a joke to check out men led to the abrupt resignation of a U.S. congressman and now the woman at the center of the photo controversy is speaking out.

While she initially did not reveal her identity, the woman who sent the gossip website Gawker.com a shirtless picture of Rep. Christopher Lee, R-N.Y., the Washington Post identified her as Yesha Callahan, a single mother and a faculty specialist at the University of Maryland.

Callahan told the Post she was shocked at how quickly the situation turned into a national controversy.

"I didn't do this for the attention or, you know, notoriety or money or whatever," Callahan told the Post. "Now I just want to go about my daily business."

Aside from the Post story, Callahan granted an interview to the TheLoop21.com's Danielle Belton, a blogger and former journalist who says she's also a friend.

"She is a very fun-loving, sweet, hilarious, strong woman," Belton said.

Belton said Callahan is a "professional, single and successful, 34-year-old African American woman" who put a personal ad on the "women seeking men" section Craigslist as a joke - just to see what sort of men would send her pictures.

In the Belton's article, Callahan's identity was not revealed and she was referred to as "anonymous," according to the Post.

Belton said when Callahan received the picture of Rep. Lee, she had no idea who she was dealing with.

Callahan told Belton in TheLoop21.com interview that she originally thought the picture was a "fake because it looked like a JC Penney's ad." She later said that Lee was "not too bad looking," after looking a second photo he sent her.

The photo shows a shirtless Lee, flexing his arms and crest.

But after exchanging a few e-mails with Lee, Callahan put his name into Facebook and came across his personal page, which clearly states that he's married.

In the e-mails allegedly exchanged between Callahan and Lee, Lee identified himself as a 39-year-old divorced lobbyist.

Then she did a quick Google search, which revealed that he was a member of congress. Lee is 46 and has a young child.

Belton said Callahan was shocked at the revelation.

"Her conclusion was that she wasn't the first woman that he'd propositioned or sent a photo to on Craigslist and she figured there must be something else going on there," Belton said.

Callahan said there's a lesson to be learned from this: "The lesson is if you're going to do dirt, do it anonymously. People cheat every day, but only dumb people get caught," she told Belton.

According to Belton, Callahan sat on the information for several weeks before deciding to share it with the Gawker on the assurances of remaining anonymous.

After the shirtless picture was posted online Wednesday, Lee announced his resignation.

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

The congressman cultivated a family values image while in office - earning an 88 percent approval rating from the American Conservative Union.

Lee was just starting his second term in the House of Representatives – representing the 26th district of New York.

Several Republican sources on Capitol Hill told ABC News that Lee had a well-known reputation as a member of congress who worked hard in the office and was active on the party circuit after hours.

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