Anthony David Weiner (born September 4, 1964) is a former U.S. Representative who served New York's 9th congressional district from January 1999 until June 2011. A Democrat, Weiner held the seat previously occupied by Democrat Charles Schumer and won seven terms, never receiving less than 59 percent of the vote. He was an unsuccessful candidate for mayor of New York City in the 2005 election, and had begun to amass a campaign fund to run again for mayor in 2013.
Previously, Weiner was a New York City councilman from 1992 to 1998, and a congressional aide to then-U.S. Representative Schumer from 1985 to 1991. A New York City native, he attended the public schools and graduated from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh in 1985 with a bachelor of arts degree in political science.
Weiner resigned from Congress due to a sexting scandal, effective June 21, 2011. A special election was held on September 13, 2011, to fill the remainder of his term.
Early life, education, and family
Weiner was born in Brooklyn, New York, one of three sons of Mort Weiner, a lawyer, and his wife Fran, a public high school mathematics teacher. The family lived for a time in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn. Weiner described his ethnic and religious background in 2011: "We weren't a very religious household," he said, "but we had a very strong sense of our Judaism." His older brother, Seth, was killed at age 39 in a hit-and-run vehicle-pedestrian accident in May 2000. His younger brother, Jason, is a chef and co-owner of several New York restaurants.
Weiner took the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT), qualified for Brooklyn Technical High School, and graduated in 1981. He attended the State University of New York at Plattsburgh, where he played on the hockey team and initially aspired to become a television weatherman. He spent his junior year as an exchange student at The College of William and Mary, where he befriended future comic/political commentator, Jon Stewart. His interests turned towards politics; he became active in student government and was named most effective student senator.
Upon receiving his bachelor of arts degree in political science in 1985, Weiner joined the staff of then-Congressman and current Senator Chuck Schumer. He worked in Schumer's Washington, D.C. office for three years, then transferred to Schumer's district office in Brooklyn in 1988 when Schumer encouraged him to become involved in local politics.
New York City Councilman: 1992–98
After six years of working for Schumer, Weiner's first chance at political office came in 1991 when the New York City Council was expanded from 35 to 51 seats. Considered a long-shot, Weiner faced strong primary competition from two other candidates who had better local name recognition and more funds. Right before the September 1991 primary, Weiner blanketed the largely white 48th council district with anonymous race-baiting leaflets playing on the voters' fears and racial hostility in the immediate aftermath of the Crown Heights race riots and tying his white opponents to black politicians who were deeply unpopular in the district. Weiner won the primary in a surprising upset, besting his opponents by 125 and 195 votes, and guaranteeing his victory in the general election in the majority Democratic district. Weiner then became, at age 27, the youngest councilman in City history.
Over the next seven years on the City Council, Weiner initiated programs to tackle quality of life concerns. He started a program to put at-risk and troubled teens to work cleaning up graffiti. He spearheaded development plans for historic Sheepshead Bay that led to a revival of the area; and, when supermarkets started leaving the neighborhood, Weiner worked to reverse the trend.
As Chairman of the Subcommittee on public housing, he fought to increase federal funding, to ban dangerous dogs, and to add more police officers to the beat. His investigation into the cause of sudden, fatal stairwell fires made headlines; he exposed dangerous practices that eventually led the city to replace the paint in developments citywide.
U.S. Congressman: 1999–2011
In the 1998 primary election, Weiner won the Democratic nomination to succeed his mentor and long-term boss, U.S. Representative Chuck Schumer who had given up his seat in the House to run for the U.S. Senate. At that time, victory in the primary was tantamount to election in the heavily Democratic 9th District which included parts of southern Brooklyn and south and central Queens. Upon winning the general election, Weiner became only the fifth person to represent the District since its creation in 1920.
He received a 100% rating from the NARAL Pro-Choice America in 2003 and a 0% rating from National Right to Life Committee 2006, indicating a strong pro-choice voting record. He was critical of the 2009 Stupak-Pitts Amendment to the health reform bill, calling it "unnecessary and divisive" and saying it would prevent health insurers from offering abortion coverage regardless of whether an individual uses federal funds to purchase an insurance plan.
In April 2008, Weiner created the bi-partisan Congressional Middle Class Caucus. Weiner received an "A" on the Drum Major Institute's 2005 Congressional Scorecard on middle-class issues.
In June 2008, Weiner sponsored a bill that would increase the number of O-visas available to foreign fashion models, arguing that it would help boost the fashion industry in New York City. Weiner has criticized UN diplomats for failing to pay parking tickets in New York City, claiming foreign nations owed $18,000,000 to the city.
During the health care reform debates of 2009, Weiner advocated for a bill called the United States National Health Care Act, which would have expanded Medicare to all Americans, regardless of age. He remarked that while 4 percent of Medicare funds go to overhead, private insurers put 30 percent of their customer's money into profits and overhead instead of into health care. In late July 2009, Weiner secured a full House floor vote for single payer health care in exchange for not amending America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 (AAHCA) in Committee mark-up with a single-payer plan. When a public health insurance option was being considered as part of America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009, he said it would help towards reducing costs, and set up a website to push for the option. He attracted wide attention when described the Republican Party as "a wholly owned subsidiary of the insurance industry, teaming up with a small group of Democrats to try to protect that industry", and proclaimed in front of Congress in February 2010 that "every single Republican I have ever met in my entire life is a wholly owned subsidiary of the insurance industry."
He was the chief sponsor of the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act (PACT) of 2009, which makes the selling of tobacco in violation of any state tax law a federal felony, and effectively ends Internet tobacco smuggling by stopping shipments of cigarettes through the United States Postal Service. Weiner said, "This new law will give states and localities a major revenue boost by cracking down on the illegal sale of tobacco", and added that "Every day we delay is another day that New York loses significant amounts of tax revenue and kids have easy access to tobacco products sold over the Internet."
On July 29, 2010, Weiner criticized Republicans for opposing the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. This act would provide for funds for sick first responders to the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, many of whom reside in Weiner's district. In a speech on the floor of the House, he accused Republicans of hiding behind procedural questions as an excuse to vote against the bill.
In October 2010, Weiner urged YouTube to take down Anwar al-Awlaki's videos from its website, saying that by hosting al-Awlaki's messages, "We are facilitating the recruitment of homegrown terror." In November 2010, YouTube removed from its site some of the hundreds of videos featuring al-Awlaki's calls to jihad.
Weiner voted against the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010. He said the Republicans turned out to be "better poker players" than Obama.
Weiner voted for the authorization to use force in Iraq in 2002.
In May 2006, Weiner attempted to bar entry by the Palestinian delegation to the United Nations. Weiner further stated that the delegation "should start packing their little Palestinian terrorist bags", and went on to claim that Human Rights Watch, The New York Times, and, in particular, Amnesty International are biased against Israel.
On July 29, 2007, Weiner and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) objected to a $20 billion arms deal that the Bush Administration had negotiated with Saudi Arabia because they do not want to provide "sophisticated weapons to a country that they believe has not done enough to stop terrorism," also noting that 15 of the 19 hijackers of September 11, 2001 were from Saudi Arabia. Weiner made the announcement outside of the Saudi Arabian consulate in Washington, stating that "We need to send a crystal clear message to the Saudi Arabian government that their tacit approval of terrorism can't go unpunished." Weiner and Nadler intended to use a provision of the Arms Export Control Act to review the deal and pass a Joint Resolution of Disapproval. Weiner and several other members of Congress later criticized the Obama administration proposal to sell over $60 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia. He said: "Saudi Arabia is not deserving of our aid, and by arming them with advanced American weaponry we are sending the wrong message", and described Saudi Arabia as having a "history of financing terrorism" and teaching "hatred of Christians and Jews" to its schoolchildren.
Criticisms and controversies
In July 2008, The New York Times characterized Weiner as one of the most intense and demanding of bosses, describing him as often working long hours with his staff, requiring them to be in constant contact by Blackberry, frequently yelling at them, and occasionally physically abusing office furniture in anger. As a result, according to the Times, he had one of the highest staff turnover rates of any member of Congress, including, at one point, three chiefs of staff in 18 months. Weiner admitted he pushed his aides hard but said his speaking at a high decibel level was part of his background and style, not necessarily shouting. Though some former employees were critical of Weiner's supervisory practices, others praised him for his intense involvement in constituent concerns and readiness to fight for New York City.
A 2010 license plate check by the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call showed that Weiner's vehicles were among several owned by members of Congress which had unpaid tickets. Weiner's past due fines which spanned three years and totaled more $2,000 were among the highest uncovered by Roll Call and they were paid in full shortly after publication of the article. On June 13, 2011, the New York Daily News reported that one of Weiner's vehicles, though it had been issued valid plates, was displaying expired plates that had been issued to another one of his vehicles. Weiner has criticized UN diplomats for failing to pay parking tickets in New York City, claiming foreign nations owed $18,000,000 to the city.
Resignation from Congress
On May 27, 2011, Weiner sent a link to a sexually suggestive photograph of himself via his public Twitter account to an adult woman who was following him on Twitter. After several days of denying he had posted the image, Weiner held a press conference at which he admitted he had, "exchanged messages and photos of an explicit nature with about six women over the last three years". He apologized for his earlier denials. After an explicit photo was leaked through the The Opie & Anthony Show, Weiner announced on June 16, 2011, that he would resign from Congress, and he formally resigned on June 21. In the special election held on September 13 to replace him, Republican businessman Bob Turner defeated the Democratic candidate, state assemblyman David Weprin, to fill Weiner's seat.
Weiner sought the Democratic nomination to run for New York City mayor in 2005, vying against three other candidates. He had a three-part pitch to voters that included criticizing sitting Mayor Michael Bloomberg for his top-down style of management and promising a more democratic approach; against "passivity in City Hall" and for getting more federal money for the city; and a series of ideas on how to get the city to work better. He presented a book of 50 "Real Solutions" and among his policy proposals were fixes for the health care and educational systems. One idea already in play was a neighborhood scrubbing-up program he dubbed "Weiners Cleaners". Weiner started out last in many polls, but gained ground in the final weeks of the campaign, coming in second. Initial election returns had Fernando Ferrer with 39.95 percent of the vote, just shy of the 40% required to avoid a runoff against Weiner who had 28.82 percent, but Weiner conceded, citing the need for party unity and denying rumors that various high-ranking New York Democrats, such as Senator Chuck Schumer and then-New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, had urged him to concede. Ultimately, absentee ballots put Ferrer over the 40% mark in the official primary election returns.
Weiner appeared to be a candidate for mayor again in 2009. However, in May 2009, after the New York City Council voted to extend term limits for Mayor Bloomberg, Weiner announced his decision not to run against the popular incumbent. By July 2010, Weiner had raised $3.9 million for a potential campaign in the 2013 mayoral election, and was considered a leading contender in early polls.
Weiner became engaged to Huma Abedin, a longtime personal aide of Hillary Clinton, in May 2009; they married in July 2010 in an interfaith ceremony with former president Bill Clinton officiating. On December 21, 2011, Abedin gave birth to the couple's first child, son Jordan Zain Weiner.
Weiner began a longterm friendship with comedian Jon Stewart when the two lived in the same summer house in Dewey Beach, Delaware in 1987. He is also a friend of actor Ben Affleck, whom he met while Affleck was researching his role in the political thriller, State of Play, in 2008.
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Weiner is a former and disgraced Democratic Congressman from Brooklyn. Represented Charles Schumers old district. Anthony is a somewhat unusual name for a Jewish guy. His mother told him, Dont worry about your name. It will confuse Jewish girls, but your Italian voters will love it.
London was a Jewish American politician from New York City. He was one of only two members of the Socialist Party of America elected to the United States Congress.
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Republican Senator from Pennsylvania (current). Raised in the same Kansas town as Bob Dole. Ran for Republican Pres. nomination in 96; pretty hopeless since hes liberal for a Rep., pro-choice, and, dare we say it? Jewish.
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