Alberta now has its own Anthony Weiner.
The political career of an Edmonton-area municipal councillor is in jeopardy after he revealed he'd had a cyber-sex relationship with a woman he never met in person, which included explicit emails and texts as well as nude photos of himself.
Jason Gariepy, who sits on the council for Strathcona County, which includes the Edmonton bedroom community of Sherwood Park, made the disclosure at a Tuesday-night council meeting, the Sherwood Park News reported.
The confession was prompted by the arrival of packages of the material sent to Strathcona County and to his wife with a warning that he should not stand for re-election this fall. Nominations are scheduled for Sept. 23, the News reported.
Rather than cave in to blackmail, Gariepy appears to have decided to get out front of the scandal.
“I accept responsibility and apologize for my actions, but I cannot accept the deliberate actions to bully, intimidate and coerce me,” a shaken Gariepy told council.
The exchanges with the unidentified woman took place in July, he said. The package of damning material includes an account of an intimate night the councillor had with a woman while on a visit to Toronto that stopped short of sex because they didn't have a condom, the News reported.
Gariepy, who is married and has two children, was an Alberta government communications director before being elected to Strathcona council in 2007, according to his profile on the county web site.
Gariepy said he forwarded a copy of the alleged blackmail package to the RCMP, which told the News it had not yet opened an investigation.
Stathcona Mayor Linda Osinchuk told the News she was saddened by the affair.
“I am sure some clarity will come through in regards to the intention [of the information]," she said. "I don’t think this community lives that way and works that way. It is unfortunate."
How Gariepy's political supporters or voters will view things come nomination day remains in question.
Gariepy's troubles echo the scandal involving New York politician Anthony Weiner, who was forced to resign from Congress in 2011 after it was revealed he'd tweeted pictures of his erect, underwear-clad penis to a young woman in Seattle.
After initially denying he'd sent the photos and suggesting his account was hacked, he admitted he'd sent that and other explicit photos and text messages to the woman, even after he was married.
Weiner was attempting political comeback this year when he ran for the Democratic nomination for mayor of New York City when a fresh batch of Weiner shots and sexting was released to a gossip site by another young woman named Sydney Leathers.
Weiner, his stone-faced wife at his side, was forced into another embarrassing admission. He vowed to continue his campaign but it ended farcically Tuesday when he finished fifth in the primary, getting just five per cent of the vote.
Gariepy suspended his Twitter account but it didn't keep the twitterverse from mocking him.
Poor Jason Gariepy, all he wanted to do was have some extra-martial sex, & send some dick shots, such a victim, getting bullied no less.
— Steve Curtis (@Steve_Curtis10) September 11, 2013
I'm disappointed with the limp reception I got from calling the Jason Gariepy dick pic affair the "Gariepenis Scandal." C'mon people! — Shane Jones (@realshanejones) September 12, 2013
Gariepy is the second Alberta politician caught in a sexual snare this year.
Conservative MLA Mike Allen was nailed in a prostitution sting in St. Paul, Minn., in July while attending a conference on behalf of the government.
Police allege the 51-year-old Allen telephoned a number listed on an online erotic ad, then meeting a woman who turned out to be an undercover police officer. He was arrested after allegedly agreeing to pay $200 to have sex with two women.
Allen is scheduled to head back to the U.S. for a court appearance later this month. Meanwhile he vowed to remain in the legislature — though outside the Conservative caucus — because he said a byelection would be too costly and time-consuming, CBC News reported.
In salacious symmetry, Allen's troubles resemble the fall of New York governor Eliot Spitzer, who was forced to resign in 2008 after admitted he'd hired high-priced call girls.
After a four-year program of rehabilitating himself as a cable news pundit, Spitzer attempted a political comeback by running in the Democracy primary to become New York City comptroller. Unlike Weiner, his campaign didn't implode, but Spitzer still lost a narrow battle for the nomination.