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Anthony D. Weiner

Anthony Weiner
Weiner in the 112th Congress
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 9th district
In office
January 3, 1999 – June 21, 2011
Preceded by Charles Schumer
Succeeded by Bob Turner
Member of the
New York City Council
for the 48th District
In office
1992–1998
Preceded by New District
Succeeded by Michael Chaim Nelson
Personal details
Born Anthony David Weiner
(1964-09-04) September 4, 1964 (age 49)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Huma Abedin (m. 2010)
Residence New York City, New York
Alma mater SUNY, Plattsburgh (B.A.)
Religion Judaism

Anthony David Weiner (/ˈwnər/; born September 4, 1964), is an American politician and former U.S. representative who served New York's 9th congressional district from January 1999 until June 2011. A member of the Democratic party, he won seven terms, never receiving less than 59% of the vote. Weiner resigned from Congress in June 2011, due to a sexting scandal.

He was a member of the New York City Council from 1992 to 1998, and a congressional aide to then–U.S. Representative Chuck Schumer from 1985 to 1991. A New York City native, he attended public schools and graduated from the SUNY Plattsburgh in 1985 with a B.A. in political science. He was an unsuccessful candidate for Mayor of New York City in the 2005 and 2013 New York City mayoral elections.

Early life, education, and family

Weiner was born in Brooklyn, New York on September 4, 1964, the middle son of Mort Weiner, a lawyer, and his wife Frances (née Finkelstein), a public high school math teacher.[1][2][3] The family lived for a time in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn. His older brother, Seth, was killed at age 39 by a hit-and-run driver in May 2000. [4][5] His younger brother, Jason, is a chef and co-owner of several New York restaurants.[6]

Weiner took the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT), an examination used to determine admission to all but one of New York City's specialized high schools, and was admitted to Brooklyn Technical High School; he graduated in 1981.[7] He attended the State University of New York at Plattsburgh,[8] where he played on the hockey team and initially aspired to become a television weatherman. He spent his junior year as an exchange student at The College of William and Mary, where he befriended future comic/political commentator Jon Stewart. His interests turned towards politics; he became active in student government and was named most effective student senator.[5]

Upon receiving his Bachelor of Arts in political science in 1985, Weiner joined the staff of then-congressman and current Senator Chuck Schumer. He worked in Schumer's Washington, D.C. office for three years, then transferred to Schumer's district office in Brooklyn in 1988 when Schumer encouraged him to become involved in local politics.[9]

New York City Council

After six years in Schumer's office, Weiner's first chance at political office came in 1991 when the New York City Council was expanded from 35 to 51 seats.[10] Considered a long-shot, Weiner faced strong primary competition from two other candidates who had better local name recognition and funding.[2][10] Right before the September primary, Weiner blanketed the predominantly white 48th council district with anonymous leaflets playing on the voters' fears and racial hostility in the immediate aftermath of the Crown Heights race riots and tying his white opponents to black politicians who were deeply unpopular in the district.[10] Weiner won the primary, besting his opponents by over 100 votes. Weiner easily won the general election in the largely Democratic district.[10] Weiner then became, at age 27, the youngest councilman in City history.[2][10]

Over the next seven years on the City Council, Weiner initiated programs to address quality of life concerns. He also started a program to put at-risk and troubled teens to work cleaning up graffiti, and spearheaded development plans for historic Sheepshead Bay that led to a revival of the area.[11]

As chairman of the Subcommittee on Public Housing, he sought to increase federal funding, ban dangerous dogs, and to increase the number of police officers. His investigation into the cause of sudden, fatal stairwell fires made headlines, and he exposed dangerous practices that eventually led to the replacement of paint in developments citywide.[2]

U.S. House of Representatives

Elections

Weiner ran for Congress in 1998 from New York's 9th congressional district, the seat held by his mentor, Chuck Schumer, who was running for the U.S. Senate. Weiner won the primary election, which at that time, was tantamount to election in the heavily Democratic district which included parts of southern Brooklyn and south and central Queens.[12][13]

Domestic issues

He received a 100% rating from the NARAL Pro-Choice America in 2003 and a 0% rating from National Right to Life Committee 2006, indicating a strong pro-choice voting record.[14] He was critical of the 2009 Stupak-Pitts Amendment to the health reform bill, calling it "unnecessary and divisive" and saying it would prevent health insurers from offering abortion coverage regardless of whether an individual uses federal funds to purchase an insurance plan.[15]

In April 2008, Weiner created the bi-partisan Congressional Middle Class Caucus.[16] Weiner received an "A" on the Drum Major Institute's 2005 Congressional Scorecard on middle-class issues.[17]

In June 2008, Weiner sponsored a bill that would increase the number of O-visas available to foreign fashion models, arguing that it would help boost the fashion industry in New York City.[18] Weiner has criticized UN diplomats for failing to pay parking tickets in New York City, claiming foreign nations owed $18,000,000 to the city.[19]

During the health care reform debates of 2009, Weiner advocated for a bill called the United States National Health Care Act, which would have expanded Medicare to all Americans, regardless of age.[20][21] He remarked that while 4% of Medicare funds go to overhead,[22] private insurers put 30% of their customer's money into profits and overhead instead of into health care.[23] In late July 2009, Weiner secured a full House floor vote for single payer health care in exchange for not amending America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 (AAHCA) in Committee mark-up with a single-payer plan.[24] When a public health insurance option was being considered as part of America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009, he said it would help towards reducing costs, and set up a website to push for the option.[23] He attracted wide attention when described the Republican Party as "a wholly owned subsidiary of the insurance industry, teaming up with a small group of Democrats to try to protect that industry",[25] and proclaimed in front of Congress in February 2010 that "every single Republican I have ever met in my entire life is a wholly owned subsidiary of the insurance industry."[26]

He was the chief sponsor of the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act (PACT) of 2009,[27][28] which makes the selling of tobacco in violation of any state tax law a federal felony, and effectively ends Internet tobacco smuggling by stopping shipments of cigarettes through the United States Postal Service. Weiner said, "This new law will give states and localities a major revenue boost by cracking down on the illegal sale of tobacco", and added that "Every day we delay is another day that New York loses significant amounts of tax revenue and kids have easy access to tobacco products sold over the Internet."[28]

On July 29, 2010, Weiner criticized Republicans for opposing the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. This act would provide for funds for sick first responders to the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, many of whom reside in Weiner's district. In a speech on the floor of the House, he accused Republicans of hiding behind procedural questions as an excuse to vote against the bill.[29] In October 2010, Weiner urged YouTube to take down Anwar al-Awlaki's videos from its website, saying that by hosting al-Awlaki's messages, "We are facilitating the recruitment of homegrown terror."[30] In November 2010, YouTube removed from its site some of the hundreds of videos featuring al-Awlaki's calls to jihad.[31]

Weiner voted against the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010. A prominent Democratic opponent of the tax cut package passed by Congress, Weiner claimed Republicans had gotten the better of President Barack Obama in the negotiations to reach agreement on the $858 billion deal and said the Republicans turned out to be "better poker players" than Obama.[32]

Foreign policy

Weiner voted for the authorization to use force against Iraq in 2002.[33] In May 2006, Weiner attempted to bar entry by the Palestinian delegation to the United Nations. Weiner added that the delegation "should start packing their little Palestinian terrorist bags", and went on to claim that Human Rights Watch, The New York Times, and Amnesty International are all biased against Israel.[34]

On July 29, 2007, Weiner and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) objected to a $20-billion arms deal that the Bush Administration had negotiated with Saudi Arabia because they do not want to provide "sophisticated weapons to a country that they believe has not done enough to stop terrorism," also noting that 15 of the 19 hijackers of September 11, 2001, were from Saudi Arabia. Weiner made the announcement outside of the Saudi Arabian consulate in Washington, stating that "We need to send a crystal clear message to the Saudi Arabian government that their tacit approval of terrorism can't go unpunished." Weiner and Nadler intended to use a provision of the Arms Export Control Act to review the deal and pass a Joint Resolution of Disapproval.[35] Weiner and several other members of Congress later criticized the Obama administration proposal to sell over $60 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia. He said: "Saudi Arabia is not deserving of our aid, and by arming them with advanced American weaponry we are sending the wrong message", and described Saudi Arabia as having a "history of financing terrorism" and teaching "hatred of Christians and Jews" to its schoolchildren.[36]

Criticisms and controversies

In July 2008, The New York Times characterized Weiner as one of the most intense and demanding of bosses, describing him as often working long hours with his staff, requiring them to be in constant contact by BlackBerry, frequently yelling at them, and occasionally throwing office furniture in anger. As a result, according to the Times, he had one of the highest staff turnover rates of any member of Congress, including, at one point, three chiefs of staff in 18 months. Weiner admitted he pushed his aides hard but said his speaking at a high decibel level was part of his background and style, not necessarily shouting. Though some former employees were critical of his supervisory practices, others praised him for his intense involvement in constituent concerns and readiness to fight for New York City.[37]

A 2010 license plate check by the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call showed that Weiner's vehicles were among several owned by members of Congress which had unpaid tickets. Weiner's past due fines which spanned three years and totaled more than $2,000 were among the highest uncovered by Roll Call and they were paid in full shortly after publication of the article.[38][39] On June 13, 2011, the New York Daily News reported that one of Weiner's vehicles, though it had been issued valid plates, was displaying expired plates that had been issued to another one of his vehicles.[40] Weiner has criticized UN diplomats for failing to pay parking tickets in New York City, claiming foreign nations owed $18,000,000 to the city.[19]

Sexting scandals

Main article: Anthony Weiner sexting scandals

On May 27, 2011, Weiner sent a link to a sexually suggestive photograph of himself via his public Twitter account[41][42] to an adult woman who was following him on Twitter.[43] After several days of denying he had posted the image,[44][45][46][47] Weiner held a press conference at which he admitted he had "exchanged messages and photos of an explicit nature with about six women over the last three years". He apologized for his earlier denials.[48][49][50] After an explicit photo was leaked through the Twitter account of a listener of the The Opie & Anthony Show,[51] Weiner announced on June 16, 2011, that he would resign from Congress,[52][53][54][55] and he formally resigned on June 21.[56] In the special election held on September 13, 2011, to replace him, Republican businessman Bob Turner[57] defeated Democrat David Weprin to fill Weiner's seat.[58]

A second scandal began on July 23, 2013, several months after Weiner returned to politics in the New York City mayoral race.[59] Explicit photos were allegedly sent under the alias 'Carlos Danger' to a 22-year-old woman with whom Weiner had contact as late as April 2013, more than a year after Weiner had left Congress.[59]

New York mayoral elections

Weiner sought the Democratic nomination to run for New York City mayor in 2005, vying against three other candidates. He had a three-part pitch to voters that included criticizing sitting Mayor Michael Bloomberg for his top-down style of management and promising a more democratic approach; against "passivity in City Hall" and for getting more federal money for the city; and a series of ideas on how to get the city to work better.[1] He presented a book of 50 "Real Solutions" and among his policy proposals were fixes for the health care and educational systems.[1] One idea already in play was a neighborhood scrubbing-up program he dubbed "Weiners Cleaners".[1] Weiner started out last in many polls,[1] but gained ground in the final weeks of the campaign, coming in second. Initial election returns had Fernando Ferrer with 39.95% of the vote, just shy of the 40% required to avoid a runoff against Weiner who had 28.82%, but Weiner conceded, citing the need for party unity and denying rumors that various high-ranking New York Democrats, such as Senator Chuck Schumer and then-New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, had urged him to concede. Ultimately, absentee ballots put Ferrer over the 40% mark in the official primary election returns.

Weiner appeared to be a candidate for mayor again in 2009.[60] However, in May 2009, after the New York City Council voted to extend term limits for Mayor Bloomberg, Weiner announced his decision not to run against the popular incumbent.[61] By July 2010, Weiner had raised $3.9 million for a potential campaign in the 2013 mayoral election, and was considered a leading contender in early polls.[62] According to the NYC Campaign Finance Board website, as of the March 2013 filing deadline Weiner had raised over $5.1 million, the second most of all registered mayoral candidates, behind only Christine Quinn.[63]

In an interview with The New York Times Magazine published online on April 10, 2013, Weiner said he would like to "ask people to give me a second chance"[64] and was considering a run for mayor. He added that, "it's now or maybe never for me."[64] In an interview on April 11, Rep. Keith Ellison endorsed Weiner, saying that he would love to see him become mayor of New York.[65] Weiner announced his intent to seek candidacy on a YouTube video on May 21, 2013.[66]

Weiner's platform for candidacy is summarized in "Keys to the City: 64 Ideas to Keep New York City the Capital of the Middle Class."[67] This twenty-page tenet, published June 2013, outlines refinements and overhauls to New York City's approach to Education, Hunger, Transportation, Small Business, City vs State politics, Health Care, Safety and Crime Prevention, Reform and Transparency, Housing, Environment, Job Creation and Job Retention, Tax Reform.

On July 23, 2013, following allegations that Weiner (using the alias "Carlos Danger") had continued sexting after his resignation from Congress, he acknowledged that he had continued to send explicit messages to at least three women in 2012. One recipient of his messages stated that Weiner described himself to her as “an argumentative, perpetually horny middle-aged man”.[68] Following this admission, there were calls for Weiner to drop out of the mayoral race; however, Weiner held a press conference with his wife, Huma Abedin, in which he announced that he would continue his campaign.[69][70][71][72] At the press conference, Weiner said, "I said that other texts and photos were likely to come out and today they have... I want to again say that I am very sorry to anyone who was on the receiving end of these messages and the disruption this has caused.”[69]

On July 27, 2013, Danny Kedem, Weiner's campaign chief, announced his resignation.[73] On September 10, 2013 Weiner lost the mayoral primary with less than 5% of the vote.[74] When asked by reporters what he would do next, Weiner gave them the middle finger.[75]

Personal life

Weiner became engaged to Huma Abedin, a longtime personal aide of Hillary Clinton, in May 2009; they married in July 2010 in an interfaith ceremony with former President Bill Clinton officiating.[76][77] In December 2011, Abedin gave birth to the couple's first child.[78] Weiner began a longterm friendship with comedian Jon Stewart when the two lived in the same summer house in Dewey Beach, Delaware in 1987.[5][79] [3][80]

See also

References

External links

  • Anthony Weiner official campaign site
  • Anthony Weiner on YouTube
  • Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
  • GovTrack
  • Federal Election Commission
  • OpenSecrets.org
  • On the Issues
  • The Washington Post
  • C-SPAN programs
  • Internet Movie Database
  • The New York Times
  • Moment Magazine, May/June 2011
  • New York Post), June 6, 2011
Political offices
Preceded by
New district
New York City Council, 48th District
1992–1998
Succeeded by
Michael Chaim Nelson
Preceded by
Charles Schumer
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 9th congressional district

1999–2011
Succeeded by
Bob Turner
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