Chris Lee (New York politician)

Christopher John Lee (born April 1, 1964) is a former Republican member of the United States House of Representatives for New York's 26th congressional district. He served from January 2009 until he resigned on February 9, 2011,[2] after it was revealed that he had solicited a woman on Craigslist and emailed a shirtless photo of himself to her.[3]

Chris Lee
Chris Lee.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 26th district
In office
January 3, 2009 – February 9, 2011[1]
Preceded byThomas M. Reynolds
Succeeded byKathy Hochul
Personal details
Christopher John Lee

(1964-04-01) April 1, 1964 (age 56)
Kenmore, New York, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Michele Lee
Alma materUniversity of Rochester (B.A.)
Chapman University (M.B.A.)

Family, education and business careerEdit

Lee was raised in Tonawanda, New York[4] in a politically active family. His sister ran regional affairs in western New York for former Governor George Pataki, and his father was the finance chairman on several campaigns for former U.S. Rep. Jack Quinn.[5]

Lee earned a B.A. in economics and finance from the University of Rochester and a Master of Business Administration from Chapman University in California.[6] At Rochester, he was a member of the Psi Upsilon Fraternity.

During his campaign for Congress, it emerged that Lee was fired from a sales job in Buffalo at Ingram Micro (now in Amherst) when he was 25 years old. He had obtained his supervisor's password and accessed customer accounts to change their credit limits with the company. This meant that the customers could purchase on account more of Ingram's products, thus increasing Lee's commission. Lee and another employee were fired. During the campaign, Lee issued a statement: "At my first job out of college, I made a mistake and broke company policy and was let go. What's important is that I learned from that mistake, and have had a successful career building a business and creating jobs for families here in Western New York."[7]

Lee moved to California, where he worked for Microtek Laboratory as director of sales before returning to New York in 1995 to work for Enidine, Inc., a company founded by his father. He worked at Enidine in various roles including Pacific Rim sales manager, director of international sales and marketing, and then general manager.[8] Enidine manufactured products for commercial aviation, and for the industrial and defense markets and had manufacturing capabilities in Orchard Park, New York, as well as Bad Bellingen, Germany and Yokohama, Japan. Endine's products included shock absorbers, rate controls, air springs, wire rope isolators, and elastomers.[9] Under Lee's direction, the business was transformed "from a small machine shop in western New York to a global enterprise," according to The New York Times.[10]

In 2003, Lee became Automation Group President of International Motion Control (IMC) of Erie County, another company founded by his father.[11] The Automation Group companies initially included Enidine Industrial Products, Enidine Germany, Enidine Japan, Compact Automation Products, Midland Pneumatics and JPI Korea.[12] He oversaw the group's acquisition of the solenoid valve firm Evolutionary Concepts Inc., and worked at IMC until it was sold to the ITT Corporation for nearly $400 million.[13][14][15]

Chris Lee and his wife, Michele, have one child.[1][16]

Chris Lee's father established the Patrick P. Lee Foundation, where Chris Lee served as director.[17] The foundation promotes cancer and mental illness awareness, education, prevention, and research in Western New York.[18]

Political campaignsEdit

Lee announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for the United States House of Representatives in New York's 26th congressional district in April 2008.[19] He was endorsed by the incumbent Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds, who was retiring;[20][21][22] ultimately, Lee was supported by all seven of the district's Republican county chairmen, who met in May 2008 to announce that he would obtain the party's official endorsement.[23] His candidacy garnered the support of state GOP Chairman Stephen Minarik in an election year in which the Republican party was looking for self-financed candidates.[24][25] Lee won reelection in 2010 with 76 percent of the vote in a district that consistently votes Republican, according to The Weekly Standard.[26]

U.S. House of RepresentativesEdit

Committee assignments

First termEdit

In Congress, Lee was a conservative who voted with the Republican party 93% of the time during his first term.[27][28] He voted "no" on the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell,[10] and "no" on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and the health care reform bills. He voted with the Democrats to expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program, provide compensation to the 9/11 responders, overhaul the nation's food safety system, and reauthorize the America Competes Act. In 2009, Lee supported the proposed "Student Internet Safety Act," which was aimed at protecting children from internet predators.[29]

Although Lee was a fiscally conservative budget hawk, he obtained $29.7 million in federal funds (known as earmarks) for his district—more than any of the Democratic members of Congress in neighboring districts. Lee explained that earmarks can be helpful in promoting job growth and said it is better to have earmarks than to have spending decisions made by unelected bureaucrats. He obtained earmarks for a small arms practice range for an Air Reserve station, high-speed rail, and local defense contractors.[30]

He was criticized for liberal use of the franking privilege to send constituents glossy newsletters, some of which were described as promotional whereas others only gave constituents information on new legislation and proposals.[31] In August 2010, Lee proposed a plan to bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States. The plan involved lowering the corporate tax rate, student loan forgiveness for students who enter fields related to manufacturing, and trade reform to open up new markets.[32]

In December 2010, he met with representatives of online travel agencies to pressure them into complying with a law that requires websites to show when regional airlines are operating any part of a flight. "It's embarrassing that this stuff has not been done", Lee said. "I made that painfully clear to them. No excuses."[33]

Second term and resignationEdit

In the wake of the January 2011 shooting of U.S. Representative Giffords and others in Tucson, Arizona, Lee said "I think what we need to look at is ensuring there are sufficient background checks to make sure that those who are unstable don't have access to weapons of that nature."[34]

On February 9, 2011, Lee was found to have been soliciting at least one woman on Craigslist. Claiming to be a 39-year-old divorced lobbyist but using his real name, he used a Google Gmail account to send a woman a shirtless photo taken with his BlackBerry phone.[35][36] The woman searched his name, discovered he was a married congressman, and turned over her email correspondence to the New York news blog Gawker. After confirming the facts, Gawker published its exposé on February 9, 2011.[37][38][39]

Lee resigned from office the same day.[2] He also issued a statement of apology, saying, "I regret the harm that my actions have caused my family, my staff and my constituents.... I have made profound mistakes and I promise to work as hard as I can to seek their forgiveness."[10] Lee did not return to Western New York after his resignation.[40]

Democratic Erie County clerk Kathy Hochul filled his seat after winning the special election on May 24 set by Governor Andrew Cuomo.[41]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Weisman, Jonathan (February 9, 2011). "New York Rep. Lee Resigns". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved February 10, 2011.
  2. ^ a b Jaffe, Matthew; Parkinson, John (February 9, 2011). "Congressman Chris Lee Resigns After Shirtless Photo Posted on Internet". ABC News. Retrieved February 9, 2011.
  3. ^ Stern, Remy (February 25, 2011). "The Craigslist Congressman and the Crossdressing Prostitute". Gawker. Archived from the original on October 12, 2012. Retrieved October 26, 2012.
  4. ^ "Biography: Christopher J. Lee". Christopher J. Lee for Congress. Archived from the original on May 11, 2008. Retrieved May 8, 2008.
  5. ^ Horrigan, Marie (April 30, 2008). "Endorsement Pits Money vs. Support in Western New York". Congressional Quarterly. Archived from the original on October 31, 2008. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
  6. ^ Terreri, Jill (May 1, 2008). "GOP county leaders line up behind Lee for Congress". Democrat and Chronicle.[dead link]
  7. ^ Spina, Matt (November 1, 2008). "Lee admits he 'made a mistake' in early job". The Buffalo News. Archived from the original on August 7, 2019. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
  8. ^ Fink, James (June 15, 2004). "Restructuring may to lead to IMC expansion". Buffalo Business First. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
  9. ^ "Global expertise, local solutions". Global Design News. September 1, 2002. Archived from the original on December 23, 2004. Retrieved May 6, 2008.
  10. ^ a b c Hernandez, Raymond (February 9, 2011). "New York Congressman Resigns Over E-Mails". The New York Times. Retrieved February 10, 2011.
  11. ^ "Profile: International Motion Control, Inc". Retrieved February 16, 2018.[dead link]
  12. ^ "Business People". The Buffalo News. August 11, 2002. Archived from the original on August 7, 2019. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
  13. ^ "Motion control company acquires solenoid valve firm". Hydraulics & Pneumatics. March 1, 2006. Archived May 8, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Sechler, Bob (June 27, 2007). "ITT to Acquire Maker Of Motion-Control Gear". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
  15. ^ "ITT Corp to buy International Motion Control for 395 mil USD". Forbes. June 29, 2007[dead link]
  16. ^ "People on the Move". Business First of Buffalo. November 20, 2000. Archived from the original on August 13, 2011. Retrieved August 8, 2019.
  17. ^ "Board of Directors". November 16, 2009. Archived from the original on November 16, 2009. Retrieved February 16, 2018.
  18. ^ Miles, Joyce (May 1, 2008). "Lee kicks off campaign for 26th District". Lockport Union-Sun & Journal. Archived from the original on August 9, 2011. Retrieved August 8, 2019.
  19. ^ McCarthy, Robert (April 30, 2008). "Chris Lee officially announces for Congress on GOP line". The Buffalo News. Archived from the original on May 1, 2008. Retrieved August 8, 2019.
  20. ^ McCarthy, Robert (May 5, 2008). "Reynolds endorses Lee, takes swipe at Collins". The Buffalo News. Archived from the original on May 8, 2008. Retrieved August 8, 2019.
  21. ^ "Reynolds endorses Lee's congressional bid". Niagara Gazette. May 5, 2008. Archived from the original on September 5, 2012. Retrieved August 8, 2019.
  22. ^ "Rep. Tom Reynolds endorses Chris Lee for 26th District". WHEC. May 5, 2008 Archived May 12, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ "GOP chairmen pick Lee for Reynolds' seat". Lockport Union-Sun & Journal. April 29, 2008. Archived from the original on August 9, 2011. Retrieved August 8, 2019.
  24. ^ Hernandez, Raymond (November 26, 2007). "Short of Funds, G.O.P. Recruits the Rich to Run". The New York Times. Retrieved August 8, 2019.
  25. ^ McCarthy, Robert J. "Christopher Lee gains ground in congressional race; Kathleen Hochul decides not to run". The Buffalo News. April 15, 2008.[dead link]
  26. ^ Warren, Michael (February 9, 2011). "Congressman Christopher Lee Resigns". The Weekly Standard. Archived from the original on June 3, 2012. Retrieved February 10, 2011.
  27. ^ "The U.S. Congress Votes Database: Christopher Lee (R)". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 10, 2011.
  28. ^ "Chris Lee". OnTheIssues. Retrieved February 13, 2011.
  29. ^ "Christopher Lee Warned About 'Dangers Of The Internet' In Op-Ed". The Huffington Post. February 10, 2011. Retrieved February 10, 2011.
  30. ^ Zremski, Jerry (August 21, 2010). "Lee leads lawmakers in earmarks for area". The Buffalo News. Archived from the original on April 6, 2011. Retrieved February 10, 2011.
  31. ^ Zremski, Jerry (July 25, 2010). "Study reveals local lawmakers' spending". The Buffalo News. Archived from the original on July 29, 2010. Retrieved February 10, 2011.
  32. ^ Christmann, Samantha Maziarz (August 27, 2010). "Lee's plan boosts manufacturing; Congressman seeks to bring the jobs back to the U.S." The Buffalo News. Retrieved February 10, 2011.
  33. ^ Zremski, Jerry (December 16, 2010). "Lee presses two travel agencies on compliance". The Buffalo News. Archived from the original on December 30, 2010. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
  34. ^ Zremski, Jerry (January 11, 2011). "Lawmakers from N. Y. draw sharp contrast on gun control". The Buffalo News. Retrieved February 10, 2011.
  35. ^ Lysiak, Matthew; Lovett, Kenneth; Kennedy, Helen (February 10, 2011). "Political insiders not surprised about two-timing of former Rep. Chris Lee". New York Daily News. Archived from the original on February 13, 2011.
  36. ^ O'Connor, Maureen (February 9, 2011). "Married GOP Congressman Sent Sexy Pictures to Craigslist Babe". Gawker. Archived from the original on May 23, 2011. Retrieved February 9, 2011.
  37. ^ Zremski, Jerry (February 26, 2011). "Lee faces two more flirtation allegations". The Buffalo News. Archived from the original on February 28, 2011. Retrieved August 8, 2019.
  38. ^ [1]
  39. ^ "What's Brewing: Craigslist congressman sought trans women; Maryland marriage bill in jeopardy". Dallas Voice. February 28, 2011. Archived from the original on February 2, 2018. Retrieved February 16, 2018.
  40. ^ Schultz, Lorey (February 11, 2011). "When will Chris Lee speak to public?". WIVB. Archived from the original on February 12, 2011. Retrieved February 11, 2011.
  41. ^ Cillizza, Chris (February 9, 2011). "New York Rep. Chris Lee resigns from the House". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 9, 2011.

External linksEdit

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Thomas M. Reynolds
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 26th congressional district

Succeeded by
Kathy Hochul