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Is Newark Mayor Cory Booker taking a page out of Anthony Weiner’s playbook?
Private messages the New Jersey Senate candidate — and Hollywood’s political darling — exchanged with a 26-year-old stripper from Oregon have been unearthed, after the woman shared them publicly on Twitter.
The politician’s messages with Lynsie Lee — who reportedly works at Portland, Ore.-based Casa Diablo, which touts itself as the world’s first vegan strip club — were first spotted by Buzzfeed. They came to light after Booker publicly answered a follower’s question about his possible presidential ambitions, to which he responded he would someday be president of the New Jersey Star Trek Club. This led Lee and another woman — 24-year-old Calla Bonanno of Ohio — to engage in some Twitter banter about who would get to serve as his first lady.
Wrote Lee: “if you’re POTUS I call dibs on First Lady.”
Bonanno said she and Booker exchange direct messages regularly, and Lee responded by posting a screenshot of a direct message between her and Booker.
The other woman, Bonanno, told The New York Times her only private message with Booker came after she complimented him on a television appearance.
Meanwhile, in a Twitter direct message to Lee, Booker wrote, “The East Coast loves you, and by the East Coast, I mean me.” Lee responded: “Well, now I’m blushing :)”
Lee told BuzzFeed that she had originally written to Booker that the West Coast loved him, which prompted his reply.
“He was just flattering me,” she said. “It began with me sending an actual tweet saying that the West Coast loved him, especially me. So he replied with that just to flatter me.”
They also had a public Twitter conversation about whether he was going to be at the premiere of Follow Friday: The Film, a movie they appeared in together about social media. They apparently became familiar with each other through their inclusion in the movie.
Booker campaign spokesperson Kevin Griffis told BuzzFeed that the texts were meaningless.
“I think it’s pretty well known that the mayor talks with people from all walks of life on Twitter,” he said. “There have been a couple of stories about that over the years. Really, the most shocking part of this story was learning there is a vegan strip club in Portland.”
Booker is active on Twitter, where he has more than 1.4 million followers. After Buzzfeed posted the texts and tweets, he tweeted: “All right @BuzzFeedBen last time I ever appear in a film with you! Sorry @erinscafe (big smile).”
He later retweeted a post from a follower referencing the controversy: “Thanks 4 the clarification (lol) MT @DaveTKoenig: Just to end speculation right now, Cory & I follow each other, and it’s purely platonic.”
Meanwhile, Lee has sent out a flurry of tweets, including: “imagine the headlines if I were a prostitute ‘Booker Hooker’ hahahaha” and “all of this just makes me wanna cuddle @CoryBooker…”
She also wrote: “Although, if all of this prevents me from being Cory’s First Lady when he’s POTUS I will seek revenge ;)”
Lee also implied that the controversy was much ado about nothing: “I love the instant notoriety but really a single man flirting with a beautiful woman isn’t much news. We both have legal jobs.”
Yet she also noted that she’s “famous” now and wondered whether she will be invited to appear on Piers Morgan‘s CNN show as a result.
Lee has 9,200 followers on Twitter, where her profile page features a topless photo of herself lying on a couch. She also has tweeted topless and NSFW photos of herself.
One Hollywood supporter told The Hollywood Reporter that the controversy will blow over.
“This story will pass quickly,” the supporter said. “He is single and he did not do anything inappropriate.”
Speculation about Booker’s sexuality recently took center stage in his Senate campaign. While he has referred to former girlfriends and women in interviews, he generally doesn’t answer questions about his sexuality, and many have speculated he is gay but keeping that a secret.
The mayor was just in Los Angeles on Monday for a series of meetings and a large fundraiser for his Senate race hosted by Matt Damon and Ron Burkle.
He has become a Hollywood favorite this season, with many of the A-listers lining up to back his senate campaign. At Monday’s event, held at Burkle’s Green Acres estate, tickets ranged from $1,000 to $10,000, according to an invite obtained by THR. As previously reported, other co-hosts for the fundraiser included Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Jerry Weintraub, J.J. Abrams and wife, Katie McGrath, Troy Carter, WME co-CEO Patrick Whitesell, talent agency head Bob Gersh, Disney exec Sean Bailey, Netflix’s Ted Sarandos and former U.S. Ambassador Nicole Avant.
In April, Weintraub hosted a similar fundraiser for Booker at his Beverly Hills manse. The list of co-hosts for the gathering took up much of that invite. They included Bob Iger, Jeffrey Katzenberg and wife Marilyn, Sony CEO Michael Lynton and wife Jamie, Barry Meyer, Kevin Tsujihara, Bruce Rosenblum, Michael Lombardo and partner Sony Ward, Steven Spielberg and wife Kate Capshaw; Rob Reiner and wife Michelle, Troy Garity, Bruce Willis, Terry Semel, Kevin Huvane, Bryan Lourd, James Lassiter and wife Mai, Steve Bing and Chris Albrecht.
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