Why politicians, sex, and the Internet don't mix.
- By Peter Sullivan<p> Peter Sullivan is an editorial researcher at Foreign Policy. </p>
New York mayoral candidate and former Congressman Anthony Weiner held one of the more awkward press conferences you’ll ever see on Tuesday, admitting to exchanging sexual messages with another woman over the Internet even after he had resigned from Congress for previous lewd correspondences.
But Weiner is far from the only politician to impale himself on the sword of online sexual exploits (though he might be the only one to come up with a pseudonym as memorable as “Carlos Danger“). From parliamentary porn viewing to a Communist sex party, there’s plenty of evidence that the Internet is a dangerous place for randy politicos all over the world.
Wang Yu and company
Having more than 100 photos of your orgy leaked online is embarrassing enough on its own. It’s much worse when you’re a Chinese government official. In August 2012, photos surfaced online of three men and two women in a variety of sexual positions, even posing for the camera. Viewers soon noticed a resemblance among the men to government officials in China’s Anhui province.
The local Communist Party office tried to claim that the images had been photoshopped. Then it switched to the story that the photos were not actually local officials, though one of the men appeared to resemble the county party chief, Wang Minsheng. This prompted the state-run Global Times to run the memorable headline, “Naked Guy is Not Our Party Chief: Local Authority.” Wang himself countered that he had been “slandered” and said he suspected the accusation was retribution for a corruption case the county was handling.
The blanket denials came apart when Wang Yu, a deputy secretary of the Youth League Committee of Hefei University in Anhui province, came forward and admitted to being one of the men in the photos, saying he “regretted his behavior.” He insisted that the other two men “are his friends, not government officials.” At the very least, the episode is a reminder that orgies and camera phones don’t mix.
Arifinto, a member of Indonesian parliament who goes by one name, was not just caught watching porn in April 2011. He was caught by a photographer’s lens watching porn on a tablet in the parliament chamber while it was in session. He initially tried to claim that he opened the site accidentally, but photos proved that he had six folders of it open, so that story kind of fell apart. He then resigned.
Making things worse, Arifinto was a member of an Islamist party and had pushed hard for a bill to make downloading porn a crime carrying a maximum penalty of four years in prison and $232,000 in fines. Indonesia’s Sharia Council gave Arifinto a relative slap on the wrist, ordering him to recite the Quran, give alms to 60 poor people, ask Council leaders for religious advice and ask for God’s mercy 100 times in the next 40 days. And maybe leave the iPad at home.
Xie Zhiqiang, head of the Liyang City sanitation bureau in China, had a slight misunderstanding on the social networking site Weibo — China’s equivalent of Twitter — that proved fatal to his career. He was fired in June 2011 for communicating with his mistress over the site. Xie thought the messages were private and had a bit of a shock when it turned out anyone could see them. “How did you see them? They’re not visible, right?” Xie said. “You saw all the Weibos we sent to each other? It can’t be.”
While he clearly doesn’t understand it very well, Xie was apparently fond of social networking. “Baby, from now on let’s not talk on the phone or send text messages, and meet up on Weibo instead,” reads one of the messages. To make matters worse, the exchanges revealed not only Xie’s attempts at flirting, but also corruption. He offered to reimburse the woman’s Shanghai shopping trip with government funds. Now, it looks like he’ll have to use his own money.
Raghavji, a regional finance minister in India, resigned on July 5, 2013 after a domestic servant accused him of committing consensual sodomy with him and reportedly produced a CD showing it. The video has not been made public but sources in the regional Congress say they have seen it. Under Indian law, Raghavji was charged with having sex “against the order of nature” and threatening his servant.
The story took a twist when Raghavji went missing on July 7. Police had to track him down using his cell phone signal and then break into the apartment, where he had locked himself in. Now that he is facing the charges in court, his lawyer is calling for a potency test, saying Raghavji is impotent and therefore not guilty. He’s 80 years old.
Mujeeb Faruqui/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
When a photo of Canadian provincial parliament candidate George Lepp’s penis showed up on his Twitter account in May 2011, the party spokesman had a fairly nonsensical explanation. Progressive Conservative Party spokesman Alan Sakach said the photo was taken accidentally while Lepp’s BlackBerry was in his pocket. He did not explain how the camera saw through the pants so that Lepp appeared naked. Sakach then went back on that story and said the photo was of someone else. The photo was removed after about 20 minutes, but the damage was done.
Lepp’s subsequent story was that his phone had been stolen. “I am simply the victim of a crime,” he said in a statement. “My BlackBerry was stolen while I was in Toronto and obviously used to take and distribute this photo.” In the end, Lepp lost the election, but only by about 500 votes. We’ll soon see if New Yorkers are as forgiving.