A member of U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell's staff has been charged in federal court after a sting operation in which he allegedly solicited...

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A member of U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell’s staff has been charged in federal court after a sting operation in which he allegedly solicited sex from what he thought was a 13-year-old boy.

James Michael McHaney, 28, was charged Saturday in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., with using a computer to arrange a sexual encounter with an informant posing as a boy, according to court records.

McHaney was arrested Friday afternoon by the FBI after he allegedly told an FBI witness he was ready to meet. He later asked for the boy’s photo.

The Smoking Gun Web site broke the story Monday.

McHaney joined Cantwell’s staff in 2006. He could not be reached for comment.

In a statement, Cantwell’s chief of staff, Michael Meehan, said, “late Friday afternoon the FBI informed our office that a Senate employee was arrested. The employee was immediately fired.

“Our office has and will continue to fully cooperate with the ongoing federal criminal investigation. Senator Cantwell has zero tolerance for crimes against children.”

Cantwell’s office did not respond to questions about whether a computer in her congressional office was used in the alleged solicitation.

The court affidavit said McHaney was online on AOL about 12:15 p.m. on Friday with the FBI’s witness, who was posing as a teenage boy.

Asked if he was going to stay at work all day, McHaney allegedly said he could take a “long lunch.” The Senate was still on Thanksgiving break last week.

McHaney was picked up by federal agents an hour later in the lobby of an unnamed office building and charged with violating the Attempted Child Exploitation Act.

Before joining Cantwell’s office, McHaney worked for the 2004 John Kerry presidential campaign and before that as an aide to former U.S. Rep. Dick Gephardt, D-Missouri.