House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi has formally requested an ethics probe of Rep. Anthony Weiner, who tearfully confessed to sending an explicit photo of himself to a Twitter follower and conducting numerous other sexual relationships online.
Pelosi wrote in a letter Tuesday to the leaders of the House Ethics Committee that Weiner has "disclosed conduct which he described as inappropriate," adding that an investigation is needed "to determine whether the Rules of the House of Representatives have been violated."
Weiner insisted Monday that he used his home computer and personal BlackBerry when he corresponded with the women, conversations that included explicit photos and sexual talk. He said he does not believe he broke any laws.
One woman has told RadarOnline.com that they often spoke during work hours and that their relationship included phone sex, with Weiner calling from his congressional office.
House rules say a member "shall conduct himself at all times in a manner that shall reflect credibly on the House."
Weiner did not have a public appearance Tuesday but said Monday that he would cooperate with any investigation.
His political future in New York City and Congress are up in the air following his confession.
The 46-year-old congressman representing Brooklyn and Queens had raised more than $5 million for a 2013 mayoral run, and had attracted national attention for his passionate Capitol Hill speech on the 9/11 health bill.
But now as he faces the ethics investigation, Democratic leaders also say they are deeply disturbed.
At the weekly Democratic caucus lunch Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said: "I wish there was some way I could defend him, but I can't."
When asked by a reporter what advice he would give Weiner if Weiner called him, Reid cracked: "Call somebody else."
Weiner's political mentor, Sen. Charles Schumer, said he was "pained and saddened" and says Weiner did the right thing by taking responsibility for his actions.
During an emotional news conference on Monday, at times stopping to choke up, Weiner apologized to his wife, family, constituents and friends, admitting he is "ashamed" but does not plan to resign. He said he does not believe he broke the law.
"I haven’t told the truth, and I’ve done things I deeply regret," Weiner said. "I brought pain to people I care about the most and the people who believed in me, and for that I’m deeply sorry."
He said he believed all the women he has corresponded with online were of legal age, but admitted he had no way of knowing for sure.
One of the women, Meagan Broussard, 26, has said in various media reports that their online relationship began after she "liked" a video of Weiner on Facebook. She commented that it was "hot," and they began chatting.
Weiner said when he realized he sent the photo publicly on Twitter, he "panicked" and began making up the story that he maintained until Monday -- that his account had been hacked.
On Monday he said that he had lied.
"I was embarrassed and I didn't want it to lead to other embarrassing things," Weiner said. "It was a dumb thing to do to try to tell lies about it, because it always leads to more lies... I knew I was putting people in a bad position and I didn't want to continue doing it."
Voters outside Anthony Weiner's office in Queens say it was dumb to send lewd photos of himself to young women on the Internet. But they don't think it will end his political career. Nor should it, many say.
"He can survive this, but he has a lot of work to do. What he did was reprehensible and he has to set an example to the public," said Ron Goldsman, of Forest Hills.
Salima John, of Richmond Hill, also said she believed Weiner was wrong, but he should not step down.
"I don't think he should resign, because that's his job," she said.
Mayor Bloomberg said Tuesday that the voters "will have an opportunity to express themselves" next year on whether they want Weiner to remain in office.
Weiner, who ran for mayor in 2005 and got enough votes to force a primary runoff, was preparing for a City Hall run in 2013. As of the last reporting period in January, he had raised $5.1 million, surpassing City Council Speaker Christine Quinn's $3.2 million and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer's $1 million.