WASHINGTON — House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday said New York Republican Christopher Lee did the right thing when he abruptly resigned in the shadow of an Internet scandal.
"I think he made the right decision for himself and for his family," Boehner told reporters on Thursday. But the Ohio Republican, his speakership less than two months old, refused to say whether he spoke to Lee or urged him to resign after an online gossip site posted a flirtatious exchange between the married congressmen and a woman on Craigslist.
"Congressman Lee made his own decision that he thought was in his own best interest and the interest of his family," Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters.
Lee resigned Wednesday a few hours after the gossip site Gawker posted the photo and the exchange. He said he regrets hurting his family and his constituents.
Last summer, the Capitol Hill paper Roll Call reported that Boehner had warned some Republicans, including Lee, against unseemly partying with female lobbyists.
"I've had members in here where I thought they had crossed the line," Boehner was quoted as saying at the time. "I have had others I thought were approaching the line."
Now speaker of the House, Boehner refused to comment on that, saying only: "I believe that members of Congress should be held to the highest ethical standards."
Boehner said he became aware of Lee's predicament Wednesday afternoon and of the congressman's resignation just after 6 p.m.