Appalled, Welch Reacts To Weiner Scandal

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(Host) Congressman Peter Welch says the confessed behavior of New York Representative Anthony Weiner is "outrageous, reprehensible and inexcusable."

Weiner has admitted to sending sexually explicit emails and photos to a group of women.

Welch isn’t calling on Weiner to resign at this time, because he wants the House Ethics committee to have an opportunity to gather all of the evidence in the case.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) Welch says he’s worked with Rep. Weiner on a number of legislative issues and that’s one of the reasons Welch is so disappointed and angry by Weiner’s behavior.

After claiming for a week that someone had hacked into his Twitter account and sent sexually explicit photos to a group of women, Weiner confessed that he had sent the photos.

Welch’s reaction was swift and clear.

(Welch) "I was appalled at the breach of trust to his wife, to his colleagues and to the press he flat out lied and he lied to many of us who are his colleague in Congress. So the behavior and the lying about it is unacceptable and really was a breach of trust. And it does a lot of damage obviously to people’s already fragile confidence in this institution of Congress. So it was really quite egregious behavior and was very upsetting."

(Kinzel) Welch says he has never publicly asked a member of Congress to resign. He says that decision rests with the individual representative and the House Ethics committee – a panel he served on during the 2009-2010 session.

(Welch) "The Ethics process which is a bi-partisan committee that I served on a couple of years ago is the instrument to investigate and get to the facts to whether – aside from the lying to the press and his colleagues and to his wife – there are some specific provisions of the House rules he violated that merit sanction which obviously could include expulsion ultimately."

(Kinzel) There are allegations that Rep. Weiner’s behavior may be a lot worse than what’s been disclosed to date. Welch says that’s another reason to allow the Ethics committee to gather all of the evidence in this case/

(Welch) "I do think you want to have the evidence. You know there is going to be a paper trail here and there probably are records that can be discovered. There can be interviews of some of these women. He’s admitted to six. They can find out exactly what was done. Did he use any governmental resources in order to engage in this conduct? I mean that’s really quite relevant. We don’t know the answers to those things. What we know is what he admitted to is pretty bad."

(Kinzel) Welch says he’s disappointed that this case has gotten so political in Washington because it will take attention away from the critical issues that Congress needs to deal with in the coming weeks including the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and efforts to strengthen the U.S. economy.

For VPR News, I’m Bob Kinzel.

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