A tearful Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., admitted Monday at a news conference that he sent a lewd photograph of himself to a woman via Twitter, and that he also had "inappropriate conversations" with at least six other women online during the past three years.
Though "deeply ashamed" of his behavior, Weiner refuses to resign.
"Nothing about this should reflect in any way on my official duties or oath of office," said Weiner. "I engaged in inappropriate online conversations. ... I don't believe I did anything that violates any law or rule."
The Weiner sex scandal -- dubbed "Weinergate" by the media -- began when a sexually explicit photograph of a man's underwear-clad crotch appeared on Weiner's personal Twitter feed hyphen and was quickly deleted. A Twitter user saw the photograph and shared it with conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart, who first broke the story.
Initially, Weiner claimed that his account had been hacked, but at his news conference he admitted that he accidentally shared the lewd photograph with all of his Twitter followers -- and in a panic quickly deleted it -- instead of sending it directly to its intended recipient.
Immediately after Weiner's news conference, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who said she was "deeply disappointed and saddened" by Weiner's indiscretions, announced that she was calling for a House ethics committee investigation into whether any official resources had been misappropriated.
"I am calling for an Ethics Committee investigation to determine whether any official resources were used or any other violation of House rules occurred," said Pelosi.
It remains to be seen whether Weiner will be able to survive the scandal and not be forced to resign from office. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., is still in office four years after being entangled in the "D.C. Madam" prostitution scandal, and Idaho Sen. Larry Craig served out the rest of his term after being arrested for lewd conduct in the men's restroom at the Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport.
On the other hand, Rep. Ed Shrock, R-Va., was forced into giving up his 2004 re-election campaign after allegedly being caught on tape soliciting sex from a man, and Rep. Chris Lee, R-N.Y., abruptly resigned from office after reports emerged that he had sent a shirtless photo of himself to a woman he met on Craigslist.