Born in September 1964, Anthony Weiner grew up in Brooklyn, New York. After receiving his B.A. at SUNY Plattsburgh in 1985, he worked as an aide for then-New York congressman Charles Schumer from 1985 to 1991. In 1991 Weiner was elected to the New York City Council, where he served until Schumer gave up his House of Representatives seat to campaign (successfully) for a spot in the U.S. Senate in 1998. That year, Weiner secured the Democratic nomination to succeed Schumer in the House, and he would serve as the Representative for New York’s 9th District for the next 13 years. In 2005, Weiner campaigned unsuccessfully to become the mayor of New York City. That same year, he was fined $47,000 by the Federal Election Commission for having taken “excessive contributions from 183 individual contributors for the 2000 primary and general elections.”
In the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries, Weiner was an avid supporter of then-candidate Hillary Clinton. He traveled with Mrs. Clinton on the campaign trail and eventually revealed that he was romancing Clinton’s personal aide, Huma Abedin, to whom he became engaged in July 2009. The couple married in July 2010.
Notably, Weiner may have violated federal law by failing to mention his lavish wedding (which may have cost as much as $250,000) in his Financial Disclosure Reports. According to the Daily Caller:
“Neither Weiner nor Abedin had the resources to pay for the ultra-expensive wedding, yet neither recorded gifts on their Financial Disclosure Reports for that year. Even though there is an exemption for gifts from personal friends, the Ethics in Government Act requires written permission from the House Ethics Committee for any Congressman getting gifts worth more than $250. Weiner had no such written permission…. House rules allow a waiver for wedding gifts but there must be a written waiver request and there must be disclosure on the Financial Disclosure Reports.”
Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, an ethics watchdog group, stated: “Knowingly filing a materially false Financial Disclosure Report not only violates the Ethics in Government Act but also the False Statements Accountability Act, a federal criminal statute. The public is entitled to know who paid the hundreds of thousands of dollars it apparently cost for Weiner to pay for such an extravagant wedding reception. Weiner is not above the law.”
A proponent of universal health care, Weiner was a prominent backer of the United States National Health Care Act, a bill (introduced in the House of Representatives by John Conyers in October 2009) calling for the creation of a single-payer health care system. During the health care debates of 2009 and 2010, Weiner was one of Congress’ most vocal proponents of a public option — i.e., a government-run health insurance plan, like Medicare, that would compete alongside private insurers in a new Health Insurance Exchange. Angry at Republican opponents of healthcare reform, Weiner — from the House floor on February 24, 2010 — derided “every single Republican I have ever met in my entire life” as being “a wholly owned subsidiary of the insurance industry.” It was later reported that the healthcare industry had been the second-biggest contributor to Weiner’s congressional campaign in 2008.
In March 2010, Weiner accused “right-wing” media of having disseminated “an enormous amount of disinformation” about the recently passed healthcare legislation.
Weiner is a supporter of “Net neutrality,” a policy that would give the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) power to regulate the Internet. In April 2010, broadcaster Glenn Beck was one of the most vocal opponents of Net neutrality, depicting it as a “government takeover” connected to the Marxist group, Free Press. When a federal appeals court ruled in early 2010 that the FCC lacked the authority to penalize Internet providers, Weiner — who was vice-chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet — stated: “This is a bad day for innovation and a sad day for consumers. Congress should now act to establish that the FCC has the power to enforce Net neutrality.”
In May 2010, Weiner — also a member of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection — wrote letters to the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Trade Commission requesting an investigation into the “unholy alliance” between Goldline International (a precious-metals dealer with an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau) and a number of conservative commentators on whose programs Goldline advertised. Alleging that Goldline “grossly overcharges” investors for gold coins and “takes advantage of fears about President Barack Obama‘s stewardship of the economy,” Weiner particularly targeted Glenn Beck, depicting the broadcaster’s “dishonest business practices” as “an unfortunate by-product of the Tea Party movement.”
Weiner’s campaign against Goldline and Beck also extended to prominent conservative media personalities such as Monica Crowley, Mike Huckabee, Laura Ingraham, Lars Larson, Mark Levin, Dennis Miller, and Fred Thompson. Beck posted a website, Weinerfacts.com, to keep track of Weiner and his allegations.
In November 2010 Weiner spoke out in favor of the DREAM Act, which would allow illegal-alien students to attend college at the reduced tuition rates normally reserved for in-state legal residents, and to earn conditional permanent residency and a path to citizenship. Said Weiner to a gathering of DREAM Act supporters: “[W]e have something that all the Teabag [Tea Party] Movement in the world doesn’t have. We have justice on our side, and we’re going to fight for it every single day.”
In a December 2010 interview with Megyn Kelly of Fox News, Weiner was asked how he could justify the imposition of an estate tax (a.k.a. “death tax”) on the assets of a deceased person – assets that already had been taxed during that person’s lifetime. He replied, “You aren’t paying anything in that case, because you’ll be dead.” Ms. Kelly then reminded Weiner that the dead person’s estate was in fact paying the tax, thereby leaving “less for [his] children.” Weiner replied that it was unjust for “people who inherit money” to be “taxed at a lower rate than if they worked 70 hours to earn it” — likening such heirs to people who “get very lucky at the casino.”
In March 2011 it was reported that Weiner was seeking to obtain a health-law waiver that would exempt his constituents in New York City from the mandates of the health-care reform plan which he had so ardently supported a year earlier.
On May 27, 2011, the seeds of an enormous controversy were sown when a photo of a sexually aroused man in his underwear was sent, via Weiner’s Twitter account, to a 21-year-old Seattle woman whom the congressman followed on Twitter. But the photo was also posted to Weiner’s public Twitter account; it was then removed almost immediately thereafter, and Weiner tweeted that his account had been “hacked.” On May 28, 2011, a Twitter user who had seen the photograph during its brief posting, shared it with his followers and alerted the conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart, whose website, BigGovernment.com, published it.
When reporters asked Weiner about the incident, the congressman denied that he had ever sent that particular photo to anyone, though he conceded that he “can’t say with certitude” whether or not he himself was the person in the picture. Claiming that a hacker was to blame for the entire incident, Weiner told reporters that he had hired a private security company — T&M Protection services — to look into the matter – rather than ask the FBI or the Capitol police to investigate the alleged hacking. All told, Weiner paid T&M $43,100 from his campaign fund.
Soon after the scandal broke, former porn star Ginger Lee, who had exchanged scores of sexual emails with Weiner over a long period of time, began receiving calls from the media. Weiner counseled Lee to lie about the matter, offering to have a “professional PR-type person” from his “team” call to give her “advice.” The congressman also sent Lee a proposed statement for her to give to the press: “… I have never met Rep. Weiner and he has never sent me anything innappopriate (sic) …”
On June 2, 2011, Weiner announced that he would not answer any more media questions about the matter.
On June 6, 2011, BigGovernment.com posted additional photographs and e-mails which had been sent by Weiner to an unidentified woman. Moreover, Radaronline and Star published transcripts of sexually explicit conversations that had taken place between Weiner and young women he had met online through Facebook. One recipient of Weiner’s illicit communications was a 17-year-old high-school student who had met the congressman on a school trip to Washington.
Unable to ignore the new revelations any longer, a tearful Mr. Weiner held a press conference where he acknowledged having sent the original photograph, and he confirmed that it was in fact a picture of him. He also admitted to having sent other inappropriate and explicit photos and messages to women he had met over the Internet. “I came here to accept the full responsibility for what I’ve done,” he said. “I am deeply regretting what I have done, and I am not resigning.”
Also at the press conference, Weiner said: “At no time did I or any member of my staff try to do anything to cover anything up. There was no coaching of any sort going on.” In light of his documented coaching of Ginger Lee, however, the congressman’s statement was untrue.
One of the women with whom Weiner had engaged in sexually explicit text-messaging and phone conversations, 40-year-old Lisa Weiss, reported that most of the pair’s communications had occurred during Weiner’s work hours — and that Weiner had used his office phone for at least some of those correspondences.
In the days subsequent to the June 6, 2011 press conference, additional explicit and inappropriate photos of Weiner, which the congressman had sent to at least one woman, became public. These included photos which he had taken of himself at the House of Representatives’ gymnasium. Another young woman told liberal Vanity Fair magazine that ten years earlier, during her days as an intern on Capitol Hill, Weiner had hunted down her email address, told her boastfully that he had flown on Air Force One, and invited her to visit his office in person.
On June 11, 2011, Weiner checked into a rehabilitation center for an unspecified form of “treatment.” But a growing number of fellow high-ranking Democrats, including President Obama, suggested that the congressman should resign. Finally, on June 16, 2011, Weiner announced his resignation at a televised New York press conference.
Attempted Return to Politics
At midnight on May 21, 2013, Weiner posted a two-minute, 16-second YouTube video formally announcing his candidacy for the office of New York City mayor. “I made some big mistakes and I know I let a lot of people down, but I have also learned some tough lessons,” Weiner said in the video. He added: “I am running for mayor because I have been fighting for the middle class and those struggling to make it my entire life, and I hope I get a second chance to work for you.” Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, offers a testimonial to her husband, declaring, “We love this city and no one will work harder to make it better than Anthony.”
In July 2013, a 22-year-old woman (and former activist with Organizing For Obama) told the media that she and Weiner had engaged in sexually explicit correspondences beginning in July 2012 — more than a year after the congressman’s June 2011 resignation. The woman provided this timeline of events:
According to Nik Richie, founder of the gossip website TheDirty.com (which broke the story of this latest Weiner scandal), the ex-congressman, in his contacts with young women, generally presented his relationship with Huma Abedin as “a staged marriage for political gain” and even planned to purchase a “secret bunker” in Chicago where he could carry out sexual trysts.
In response to the foregoing revelations, Weiner acknowledged that his behavior had created “challenges in our marriage that extended past my resignation” from Congress. All told, he admitted to having had online relationships with three women following his resignation. A reporter subsequently asked him, “There is no one you are sexting now?” Weiner replied, “You can quibble about beginnings, middles, and ends, but what we’re talking about is over a year ago.”
In September 2013, Weiner finished a distant fifth in the Democratic primary race for New York City mayor, capturing only 5% of the vote.
On August 28, 2016, the New York Post published excerpts and photos from sexually explicit texting exchanges in which Weiner had engaged with two women in the summer of 2015.
Huma Abedin and Weiner Separate
On August 29, 2016 — in light of the previous day’s revelations about Weiner’s latest sexting scandal — Huma Abedin announced that she was separating from Weiner. She said in a statement: “After long and painful consideration and work on my marriage, I have made the decision to separate from my husband. Anthony and I remain devoted to doing what is best for our son, who is the light of our life. During this difficult time, I ask for respect for our privacy.”
Scandal With An Underage Girl
In September 2016, news reports surfaced indicating that Weiner had been sending graphic sex messages to a 15-year-old girl for several months, beginning in January 2016. Weiner was fully aware that the girl was a minor but nevertheless sent bare-chested pictures of himself and told her, “I thought of you this am. Hard.” The two joked about nicknames; the girl referencing his old online handle, Carlos Danger, he wanting to call her “mine.” A number of the texts were attempts at setting up a time to Skype when the girl’s parents were not home. Through an application called Confide, which deletes the sender’s name after the first message is opened, Weiner said the following to the young girl, who had told him that she was a virgin: “I would bust that tight p**sy so hard and so often that you would leak and limp for a week.”
The Daily Mail contacted Weiner for his side of the story and said that he “did not deny exchanging ‘flirtatious’ messages with the teen.” Moreover, Weiner released the following statement: “I have repeatedly demonstrated terrible judgment about the people I have communicated with online and the things I have sent. I am filled with regret and heartbroken for those I have hurt. While I have provided the Daily Mail with information showing that I have likely been the subject of a hoax, I have no one to blame but me for putting myself in this position. I am sorry.”
In early October 2016, Weiner checked in to a 90-day sexting-addiction rehabilitation program at a renowned Tennessee treatment facility known as The Ranch. However, he stayed in the program for only 35 days — at a cost of $25,000 — before leaving because he ran out of money.
On December 2, 2016, the New York City Campaign Finance Board fined Weiner $65,000 for improper use of campaign funds during his 2013 mayoral bid. Specifically, the board found that Weiner had: (a) accepted contributions above the legal donation limit; (b) failed to show that some of his expenditures during the campaign were in any way related to run for mayor; and (c) spent some $115,268 in campaign funds after the election on goods and services that clearly had nothing to do with the mayoral race. In addition, the board ordered Weiner to return $195,377 in matching campaign funds.
Guilty Plea on Sexting Scandal; Wife Files for Divorce
On May 19, 2017, Weiner pled guilty to charges that he sent sexually explicit material to a 15-year-old girl, a crime carrying a sentence of up to 10 years in jail. He tearfully apologized to the young girl, saying, “I have a sickness, but I do not have an excuse.” The judge told Weiner he would have to register as a sex offender. That same day, Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, filed for divorce.
On September 25, 2017, a federal court in Manhattan sentenced Weiner to 21 months in prison for a single count of transferring obscene material to a minor. He was also required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
Divorce Plans Are Scrapped
In January 2018, Weiner and Abedin ended their pending divorce case, citing, in identical statements from their respective lawyers, their mutual desire to protect their 6-year-old son by settling the case outside of the courtroom. Family law expert and prominent divorce attorney Michael Stutman, who was not involved in the case, speculated that the couple may have decided to stay married in order to invoke spousal immunity in case the Justice Department decided to launch an investigation of Abedin for having kept classified emails on Weiner’s laptop during her tenure as Hillary Clinton’s deputy chief of staff. (Under New York law, a husband or wife cannot be “required to disclose a confidential communication made by one or the other during the marriage.”) In a similar vein, matrimonial lawyer Suzanne Bracker told the New York Post: “He [Weiner] easily could be called in by a grand jury to testify against her, so by dropping the lawsuit he can exercise the marital privilege. When you’re married to someone you cannot be compelled to testify against them.” A third attorney, Bonnie Rabin, said that the “spousal privilege issue is out there considering the investigations.”
Released from Prison
Weiner served 18 months of his 21-month prison sentence and was released in May 2019.
Radio Talk Show Host
In February 2013, Weiner began co-hosting a weekly talk-radio show alongside Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa. Airing on WABC-AM Radio, the program, which focused on current events and local New York City issues, was titled The Left Versus the Right.
Weiner’s Net Worth
As of 2019, Weiner’s net worth was estimated to be more than $1 million.
For an overview of Weiner’s voting record on a variety of key issues during his legislative career, click here.