Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, N.J., has a high-schooler’s affinity for Twitter, reveling in its ceaseless flow of affirmation and infinite space for self-promotion.
But the occasional perils of his reliance on the social-media service became evident Wednesday when a 26-year-old stripper from Oregon revealed her private online correspondence with him.
In a message to the stripper, Lynsie Lee, Booker wrote: “The East Coast loves you, and by the East Coast, I mean me.”
Lee, of Portland, whose photograph on Twitter features her splayed topless across a yellow couch, replied: “Well, now I’m blushing :)”
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Booker, who is single, wrote back: “It’s only fair.”
The mayor, 44, a Democrat seeking to become a U.S. senator, has long talked about the democratizing and revolutionary power of social media, collecting 1.4 million Twitter followers in the process, about five times the number of people who live in the city he governs.
Even as many politicians have adopted a hyperdisciplined approach to social media or handed over their official Twitter accounts to image-conscious aides in the wake of online scandals involving the likes of Anthony Weiner, a former Democratic congressman, Booker’s fingers seem to rarely stray from the keyboard.
He takes an especially inclusive approach in signing on to follow those who reach out to him. There are about 76,000 of them.
In February, Lee joined their ranks, which allowed the two to trade private messages.
Her correspondence with Booker, unearthed by BuzzFeed, suggests she was exchanging casual banter with him.
Lee, offering context for Booker’s words, told BuzzFeed that she had written to the mayor that the West Coast loved him, prompting his reply. “He was just flattering me,” she said.
Lee, who works at Casa Diablo, which bills itself as the world’s first vegan strip club, did not respond to messages Wednesday night.
Lee’s correspondence with Booker came to light after he boasted that he would someday be president — of the New Jersey Star Trek Club. Lee and another Twitter user, Calla Bonanno, playfully sparred online over who would get to be his first lady, and both eventually said they exchanged private messages with the mayor.
Bonanno, 24, of Ohio, said Wednesday in a telephone interview that her only private communication with Booker had come when she complimented him on a television appearance, and he thanked her.
Kevin Griffis, a spokesman for Booker, declined to discuss how the mayor had been introduced to Lee, or how many private messages he had exchanged with her.
“The mayor talks with people from all walks of life on Twitter,” he said in a statement. “The most shocking part of the story was learning that there is a vegan strip club in Portland.”
A spokesman for Booker’s Republican opponent in the Senate race, Steve Lonegan, declined to comment.
As he sent out his nightly deluge of messages on Twitter on Wednesday, Booker did not directly address the topic. But he could not resist forwarding a post from a follower, @DaveTKoenig, who said: “Just to end speculation right now, Cory & I follow each other, and it’s purely platonic.”
Lee seemed to delight in the attention. “I guess I’m famous now,” she wrote. “Do I get to be on @piersmorgan’s show?”
But she did not overlook the politician who brought her sudden celebrity: “You have to go donate to @CoryBooker’s campaign,” she wrote in a Twitter message to the thousands of her newfound admirers.