Monday, May 30, 2011
Rep. Anthony Weiner hires attorney to explore civil, criminal charges in lewd Twitter photo 'prank'
Rep. Anthony Weiner isn't laughing at what he's calling an Internet "prank" - and he's hired an attorney to explore civil or criminal charges.
Weiner's office is playing off the lewd photo posted on his Twitter account Friday as the handiwork of a rabble-rousing hacker, but says the congressman can't take any chances.
"We are loath to treat it as more, but we are relying on professional advice," Weiner's spokesman Dave Arnold said.
Weiner's office did not identify the attorney.
The online soap opera unfolded over the weekend when an obscene photo on Weiner's Twitter page was addressed to Seattle college student Gennette Cordova - but visible to all 40,000 of his followers.
The photo of a man's crotch in tight-fitting underwear was quickly deleted - and Weiner insisted he'd been hacked.
As the blogosphere continued to buzz on Monday, Weiner hinted that his political foes were quick to focus on the controversy - rather than address issues affecting everyday Americans.
"Many want to change the subject [away from the issues] - I don't," Weiner said in a statement to The News on Monday. "This was a prank, and a silly one. I am focused on my work."
Twitter users, however, focused on tracking down the source of the dramatic crotch shot. Many on the social networking site accused user "patriotusa76" as the hacker.
But "patriotusa76," whose name is listed as Dan Wolfe, insists he's not the prankster - and maintained that it was Weiner who blasted the photo.
He even offered to cooperate with any investigation.
"I don't care. Either arrest me, press charges, etc. or shut up," he tweeted.
"I voluntarily offer my computer for analysis. No warrants necessary. I voluntarily offer everything. I did not hack anything," Wolfe tweeted to his 1,300 followers.
Wolfe, who describes himself as a "conservative Reagan Republican," has a photo of Ronald Reagan as his Twitter icon.
Cordova is siding with Weiner, telling the Daily News Sunday she and the congressman were victims of online pranksters.
"I have never met Congressman Weiner, though I am a fan," said Cordova, 21. "I've never been to New York or to DC."
Sen. Chuck Schumer, who served as Weiner's political mentor, gave his protege a vote of confidence in the court of public opinion.
"I don't know the details. But I know him to be a person of integrity and I am virtually certain he had nothing to do with this," Schumer said.