|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from New York's 26th district
January 3, 2009 – February 9, 2011
|Preceded by||Thomas M. Reynolds|
|Succeeded by||Kathy Hochul|
Christopher John Lee
April 1, 1964
Kenmore, New York
|Alma mater||University of Rochester (B.A.)|
Chapman University (M.B.A.)
Christopher John Lee (born April 1, 1964) is a former Republican member of the United States House of Representatives for New York's 26th congressional district. He served from January 2009 until he resigned on February 9, 2011, after it was revealed that he had solicited a woman on Craigslist and emailed a shirtless photo of himself to her.
Family, education and business career
Lee was raised in Tonawanda, New York in a politically active family. His sister ran regional affairs in western New York for former Governor George Pataki, and his father was the finance chairman on several campaigns for former U.S. Rep. Jack Quinn.
Lee earned a B.A. in economics and finance from the University of Rochester and a Master of Business Administration from Chapman University in California. At Rochester, he was a member of the Psi Upsilon Fraternity.
During his campaign for Congress, it emerged that Lee was fired from a sales job in Buffalo at Ingram Micro (now in Amherst) when he was 25 years old. He had obtained his supervisor's password and accessed customer accounts to change their credit limits with the company. This meant that the customers could purchase on account more of Ingram's products, thus increasing Lee's commission. Lee and another employee were fired. During the campaign, Lee issued a statement: "At my first job out of college, I made a mistake and broke company policy and was let go. What's important is that I learned from that mistake, and have had a successful career building a business and creating jobs for families here in Western New York."
Lee moved to California where he worked for Microtek Laboratory as director of sales before returning to New York in 1995 to work for Enidine, Inc., a company founded by his father. He worked at Enidine in various roles including Pacific Rim sales manager, director of international sales and marketing, and then general manager. Enidine manufactured products for commercial aviation, and for the industrial and defense markets and had manufacturing capabilities in Orchard Park, New York, as well as Bad Bellingen, Germany and Yokohama, Japan. Under Lee's direction, the business was transformed "from a small machine shop in western New York to a global enterprise," according to The New York Times.
In 2003, Lee became Automation Group President of International Motion Control (IMC) of Erie County, another company founded by his father. He oversaw the group's acquisition of the solenoid valve firm Evolutionary Concepts Inc., and worked at IMC until it was sold to the ITT Corporation for nearly $400 million.
Chris Lee's father established the Patrick P. Lee Foundation, where Chris Lee served as director. The foundation promotes cancer and mental illness awareness, education, prevention, and research in Western New York.
Lee announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for the United States House of Representatives in New York's 26th congressional district in April 2008. He was endorsed by the incumbent Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds, who was retiring; ultimately, Lee was supported by all seven of the district's Republican county chairmen, who met in May 2008 to announce that he would obtain the party's official endorsement. His candidacy garnered the support of state GOP Chairman Stephen Minarik in an election year in which the Republican party was looking for self-financed candidates. Lee won reelection in 2010 with 76 percent of the vote in a district that consistently votes Republican, according to The Weekly Standard.
U.S. House of Representatives
In Congress, Lee was a conservative who voted with the Republican party 93% of the time during his first term. He voted "no" on the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and "no" on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and the health care reform bills. He voted with the Democrats to expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program, provide compensation to the 9/11 responders, overhaul the nation's food safety system, and reauthorize the America Competes Act. In 2009, Lee supported the proposed "Student Internet Safety Act," which was aimed at protecting children from internet predators.
Although Lee was a fiscally conservative budget hawk, he obtained $29.7 million in federal funds (known as earmarks) for his district—more than any of the Democratic members of Congress in neighboring districts. Lee explained that earmarks can be helpful in promoting job growth and said it is better to have earmarks than to have spending decisions made by unelected bureaucrats. He obtained earmarks for a small arms practice range for an Air Reserve station, high-speed rail, and local defense contractors.
He was criticized for liberal use of the franking privilege to send constituents glossy newsletters, some of which were described as promotional whereas others only gave constituents information on new legislation and proposals. In August 2010, Lee proposed a plan to bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States. The plan involved lowering the corporate tax rate, student loan forgiveness for students who enter fields related to manufacturing, and trade reform to open up new markets.
In December 2010, he met with representatives of online travel agencies to pressure them into complying with a law that requires websites to show when regional airlines are operating any part of a flight. “It's embarrassing that this stuff has not been done”, Lee said. “I made that painfully clear to them. No excuses.”
Second term and resignation
In the wake of the January 2011 shooting of U.S. Representative Giffords and others in Tucson, Arizona, Lee said "I think what we need to look at is ensuring there are sufficient background checks to make sure that those who are unstable don’t have access to weapons of that nature."
On February 9, 2011, Lee was found to have been soliciting at least one woman on Craigslist. Claiming to be a 39-year-old divorced lobbyist but using his real name, he used a Google Gmail account to send a woman a shirtless photo taken with his BlackBerry phone. The woman searched his name, discovered he was a married congressman, and turned over her email correspondence to the New York news blog Gawker. After confirming the facts, Gawker published its exposé on February 9, 2011.
Lee resigned from office the same day. He also issued a statement of apology, saying, “I regret the harm that my actions have caused my family, my staff and my constituents.... I have made profound mistakes and I promise to work as hard as I can to seek their forgiveness.” Lee did not return to Western New York after his resignation.
- List of federal political scandals in the United States
- List of federal political sex scandals in the United States
- Weisman, Jonathan (February 9, 2011). "New York Rep. Lee Resigns". The Wall Street Journal.
- Jaffe, Matthew; Parkinson, John (February 9, 2011). "Congressman Chris Lee Resigns After Shirtless Photo Posted on Internet". ABC News. Retrieved February 9, 2011.
- Stern, Remy (25 February 2011). "The Craigslist Congressman and the Crossdressing Prostitute". Gawker. Archived from the original on 12 October 2012. Retrieved 26 October 2012.
- ""Chris Lee for Congress" Archived 2008-05-11 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved May 8, 2008
- Horrigan, Marie. "Endorsement Pits Money vs. Support in Western New York" Archived 2008-10-31 at the Wayback Machine. Congressional Quarterly. April 30, 2008
- Terreri, Jill. "GOP county leaders line up behind Lee for Congress". Democrat and Chronicle. May 1, 2008.
- "Lee admits to wrongdoing at Ingram Micro". Archived from the original on 2010-12-15. Retrieved 16 February 2018.
- Fink, James. "Restructuring may lead to IMC expansion"
- Business First of Buffalo. June 15, 2004
- "Global expertise, local solutions" Archived 2004-12-23 at the Wayback Machine
- Enidine ITT website. Retrieved May 6, 2008. Endine's products included shock absorbers, rate controls, air springs, wire rope isolators, and elastomers.
- Hernandez, Raymond (February 9, 2011). "New York Congressman Resigns Over E-Mails". The New York Times. Retrieved February 10, 2011.
- "Profile: International Motion Control, Inc". Bizjournals.com. Retrieved 2018-02-16.
- Business People: Christopher J. Lee profile. The Buffalo News. August 11, 2002. The Automation Group companies initially included Enidine Industrial Products, Enidine Germany, Enidine Japan, Compact Automation Products, Midland Pneumatics and JPI Korea.
- "Motion control company acquires solenoid valve firm". Hydraulics & Pneumatics. March 1, 2006.
- Sechler, Bob. "ITT to Acquire Maker Of Motion-Control Gear". The Wall Street Journal. June 27, 2007.
- "ITT Corp to buy International Motion Control for 395 mil USD". Forbes. June 29, 2007
- Weisman, Jonathan (February 9, 2011). "New York Rep. Lee Resigns". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 10 February 2011.
- "People on the Move" Business First of Buffalo. November 20, 2000
- "Board of Directors". 16 November 2009. Archived from the original on 16 November 2009. Retrieved 16 February 2018.
- Miles, Joyce. "Lee kicks off campaign for 26th District". Lockport Union-Sun & Journal. May 1, 2008
- McCarthy, Robert J. "Chris Lee officially announces for Congress on GOP line". Buffalo News. April 30, 2008
- McCarthy, Robert J. "Reynolds endorses Lee, takes swipe at Collins". The Buffalo News. May 5, 2008
- "Tom Reynolds endorses Lee's congressional bid". Niagara Gazette. May 5, 2008.
- "Rep. Tom Reynolds endorses Chris Lee for 26th District". WHEC. May 5, 2008
- "GOP chairmen pick Lee for Reynolds' seat". Lockport Union-Sun & Journal. April 29, 2008
- Hernandez, Ramyond. "Short of Funds, G.O.P. Recruits the Rich to Run". The New York Times. November 26, 2007
- McCarthy, Robert J. "Christopher Lee gains ground in congressional race; Kathleen Hochul decides not to run". The Buffalo News. April 15, 2008.
- Warren, Michael (February 9, 2011). "Congressman Christopher Lee Resigns". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved February 10, 2011.
- "Christopher Lee (R) - The U.S. Congress Votes Database". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 10, 2011.
- Chris Lee on the issues OnTheIssues.org Accessed February 13, 2011
- Staff reporter (February 10, 2011). "Christopher Lee Warned About 'Dangers Of The Internet' In Op-Ed". The Huffington Post. Retrieved February 10, 2011.
- Zremski, Jerry (August 21, 2010). "Lee leads lawmakers in earmarks for area". The Buffalo News. Retrieved February 10, 2011.
- Zremski, Jerry (July 25, 2010). "Study reveals local lawmakers' spending". The Buffalo News.
- Christmann, Samantha Maziarz (August 27, 2010). "Lee's plan boosts manufacturing". The Buffalo News. Retrieved February 10, 2011.
- Zremski, Jerry (December 16, 2010). "Lee presses two travel agencies on compliance". The Buffalo News.
- "Lawmakers from N. Y. draw sharp contrast on gun control". The Buffalo News. January 11, 2011. Retrieved February 10, 2011.
- Kennedy, Helen (February 10, 2011). "Rep. Christopher Lee deserved to get caught, woman who unknowingly forced pol from office, says". New York Daily News.
- O'Connor, Maureen (February 9, 2011). "Married GOP Congressman Sent Sexy Pictures to Craigslist Babe". Gawker. Archived from the original on May 23, 2011. Retrieved February 9, 2011.
- http://www.wgrz.com/news/article/111069/1/Gawkercom-Details-on-Why-Chris-Lee-Resigned-From-Congress-So-Fast[permanent dead link]
- "What's Brewing: Craigslist congressman sought trans women; Maryland marriage bill in jeopardy - Dallas Voice". 28 February 2011. Retrieved 16 February 2018.
- When will Chris Lee speak to public? Archived 2011-02-12 at the Wayback Machine WIVB-TV. Retrieved 2011-02-11.
- Cillizza, Chris (February 9, 2011). "New York Rep. Chris Lee resigns from the House". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 9, 2011.
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Profile at Vote Smart
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Profile at SourceWatch
|U.S. House of Representatives|
|Preceded by |
Thomas M. Reynolds
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives |
from New York's 26th congressional district