This photo and a flirtation that began on craigslist ended the career of a rising political star in just three hours.
"The image was he was a very clean-cut Republican businessman, pretty much the perfect American clean young congressman making it to Congress," WIVB-TV's George Richert tells INSIDE EDITION.
The unidentified woman at the center of the scandal told gawker.com:
"I wouldn't have thought he'd resign, over a few pictures and a few e-mails. I'm sure there are other women out there he's met. My theory is, you don't get caught your first time out."
The disgraced congressman, who's married with one son, answered a personal ad in the "Women Seeking Men" section on Craigslist.
The ad said, "Will someone prove to me not all CL men look like toads?"
Congressman Lee replied:
Hope I'm not a toad. :) i'm a very fit fun classy guy. Live in Cap Hill area. 6ft 190lbs blond/blue. 39.. Lobbyist. I promise not to disappoint."
He also sent her the now-infamous photo of himself shirtless, taken with his Blackberry in a bathroom mirror.
The woman wrote him: "Are you divorced?"
Lee replied: "Yes..one child.. You?"
When the woman Googled Lee, she found he was lying about his age, hiding the fact was a congressman, and that he is married.
The unidentified woman gave the e-mails to gawker.com and just three and a half hours after the story broke, Lee's resignation letter was read by the clerk of the House of Representatives:
"I hereby give notice of my resignation from the United States House of Representatives, effective 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time."
Lee was sworn in for his second term by Speaker of the House John Boehner just last month, with his wife Michele and son Jonathan at his side.
Published reports say Boehner had already warned Lee about his partying with female lobbyists.
Lee said in a statement: "I regret the harm that my actions have caused my family, my staff, and my constituents. I deeply and sincerely apologize to them all."
Gawker.com reportedly got the photo a week before publishing the story, and held it while they verified the e-mail originated on the former congressman's Blackberry.