Gennette Cordova, the Seattle woman who received a lewd photo from Rep. Anthony Weiner, said it came as a surprise and that she had not sent anything suggestive to him. Cordova's experience with Weiner appears to fit a pattern: In rapid and reckless fashion, he sought to transform informal online conversations about politics and policy...
Gennette Cordova said she did not even believe the photo was real.
It was nearly 9 p.m. on a Friday when Cordova, preparing to head out for the night with a friend, logged onto Twitter and discovered that Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., had sent her a suggestive photo of himself in gray boxer briefs.
“It didn’t make any sense,” Cordova, a 21-year-old Seattle woman and student at Whatcom Community College, said in her first extensive interview since Weiner confessed in a news conference Monday to sending her the photo. “I figured it must have been a fake.”
Cordova’s experience with Weiner appears to fit a pattern: In rapid and reckless fashion, he sought to transform informal online conversations about politics and policy into sexually charged exchanges, often laced with racy language and explicit images.
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Cordova, who had text-messaged with Weiner about their shared concern over his conservative critics, said she never had sent him anything provocative. Asked if she was taken aback by Weiner’s decision to send the photo, she responded, “Oh gosh, yes.”
House leaders on Wednesday began a concerted effort to persuade Weiner to step down, worried that the sensational coverage of his online sexual liaisons with at least six women over a three-year period had become a distraction and was subjecting the Democratic Party to ridicule.
The women who have acknowledged encountering Weiner on social media and then having personal communications with him varied in age, race and location, and even in their willingness to engage the congressman in sexual discourse. In each case, however, Weiner’s online conduct in many ways mirrored that of his offline life — aggressive, blunt, feisty and willing to push boundaries with an apparent disregard for possible consequences.
The women came to his attention after he had come to theirs. They usually were admirers of his scrappy, progressive politics and youthful energy, and either posted an enthusiastic comment on his Facebook page or sent him an admiring Twitter message.
Cordova said she first was impressed with Weiner after seeing him take on Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., a tea-party favorite, on Fox News’ “Hannity.”
Cordova said she and her boyfriend thought the congressman was smart and funny, and they both started following him on Twitter.
“I tweeted words of support for him as a politician, and I retweeted his tweets often beginning around early, mid-April,” Cordova said in a series of conversations by phone and email over the past two days.
She added that, in mid-April, “he thanked me for the support” using a direct message — a private note sent via Twitter — and he then signed up as a follower on Twitter, meaning he easily could read all of her posts.
Cordova said that, after Weiner began following her on Twitter, critics of the congressman started sending her harassing messages. She said she then began communicating, always electronically, with the congressman about their shared annoyance with those critics.
Cordova shared a portion of her communications with Weiner with The New York Times, but she would not make all of her interaction with him available for review.
“I have not sent him any suggestive messages,” Cordova said.
She said she was, however, surprised by his informal tone.
“He was just very casual,” she said. “It wasn’t like talking to a U.S. congressman.”
A spokeswoman for Weiner did not dispute Cordova’s account.
Weiner, at his news conference Monday, said he had sent Cordova the underwear photo “as part of a joke.” But she said the image was not in keeping with the tenor of their previous interactions. “I still didn’t get the joke part of it,” she said.
Several other women have come forward to describe their interactions with Weiner.
Meagan Broussard, a 26-year-old Texan, said her flirtatious exchange with the congressman started with the single word — “Hottttt” — that she posted on his Facebook wall in April, after seeing him speak via Internet video.
Broussard, who first detailed her experience in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” said Weiner sent her a Facebook friend request hours after her post, and then began to instant-message her daily. She said their conversations began casually, with the congressman “just asking about Texas, that sort of thing, just joking back and forth,” but that their nature changed quickly.
“He was very personal with his own business,” she said, adding that their exchanges had become sexual within days and that he was sending explicit photos.
“I was just kind of like, wow, this is all a little bit overwhelming,” Broussard told Fox News’ “Hannity.” “But at the time I was like, wow, that’s kind of out there, daredevil.”
Lisa Weiss, a 40-year-old blackjack dealer in Las Vegas, provided an account of her exchange with the congressman to RadarOnline.com.
She said she first contacted the congressman, who she called “the wonderful Anthony Weiner,” over Facebook in mid-August, to compliment his appearance on the “Daily Show” and to praise him for taking on Republicans in Congress. Their exchanges turned raunchily sexual a little more than a month later, according to transcripts of their conversations that Weiss provided to the website.
Broussard and Weiss did not return calls seeking comment.
Cordova said that, for her, the past 13 days have been an unwanted frenzy of media attention and, she said, misperceptions about her involvement with Weiner.
“I’ve had a really hard time trying to fight these implications that I’ve been involved in an inappropriate relationship with a married congressman,” she said.
She has struggled to stay out of the limelight, leaving college and doing class work by phone and email.
Cordova said she gave Weiner a heads-up before she issued a statement to the New York Daily News when the underwear photo he tweeted first became public, and she again heard from him on the day of his confessional news conference: He sent her a text message apologizing moments before he walked onstage.
Cordova said she now has mixed feelings about the congressman who put her — and himself — in the middle of a political maelstrom.
“I certainly don’t condone his behavior,” she said, “but I think that’s a personal matter between him and his family.”