Rep. Steve Cohen, a Tennessee Democrat, attracted unwanted attention during the State of the Union address, when press reported on what appeared to be flirtatious tweets sent to a very pretty 24-year-old blonde. It didn't help Cohen's case when he then deleted the tweets just a few minutes. Oh no, it's another Weinergate only not as exciting because there's no penis photo, the conservative media crowed. Turns out Rep. Cohen actually has a very pretty 24-year-old daughter, a fact that has been kept secret from the public for, well, 24 years. Scandal dodged. Sort of.
It's actually pretty sweet story. Cohen told NBC News the whole thing on Thursday. Yes, Brinks has a secret daughter. Her name is Victoria Brink, and she appears to have had some sort of career as a bikini model. The congressman only found out about her three years ago. "I googled her mother, found out she had a child and the math looked pretty accurate," he said. "The mom told me we had a lot of catching up to do." Since then, Cohen's done his best to be a good dad. He's given her a tour of the Capitol and even took her to the White House Christmas party, where he asked the official photographer to take two pictures — one with him and Brinks together and one without Brinks — since nobody else knew about the situation. After that, Brinks took a trip to Memphis, Cohen's home district, though it's unclear if she hung out with dear old dad.
Cohen shows me picture of him and his daughter Victoria at White House Christmas party twitter.com/LukeRussert/st…— Luke Russert (@LukeRussert) February 14, 2013
All that said, the circumstances of Cohen's revealing his relationship with Brink are sketchy at best. That is to say, we can see how some people might think she was some sort of mistress. Cohen is not married, though his spokesperson says that he "has a longtime girlfriend in Memphis." Accounts vary as to when Cohen actually found out that Brinks was his daughter. His spokesperson says he's known her "pretty much since she was born" while NBC News says it's only been three years. There are a bunch of pictures on the Internet of Brink in skimpy bikinis, not that there's anything wrong with that. But again, we can see how some people would draw the conclusion that Brink is Cohen's secret lover, not his secret daughter.
One thing is absolutely clear: Cohen is bad at Twitter. Initially, Cohen's spokesperson said that the tweets were meant to be "private" direct messages to "the daughter of a longtime friend." You can almost smell Weinergate's return. As for the tweets themselves, Cohen says it was just good old fashioned paternal pride that compelled him to send them. "When she let me know she was watching the State of the Union address I was thrilled that she wanted Steve Cohen to be part of her," he told NBC News. "I had such joy, that I couldn't hold back from tweeting her." Everybody all at once: Awwwww.
The Sunlight Foundation maintains a website called Politwoops that archives politicians' deleted tweets, and this is not the first time that Cohen's tweeted at Brink. New York Magazine's Joe Coscarelli traces their Twitter relationship back to February 2012, almost exactly one year before the State of the Union, when Cohen favorited Brinks' first tweet. Tweets since then have been pretty adorable, especially Cohen's classic dad-just-learned-to-text spelling tricks — "miss u/wil call later_-give me a good time."
There will inevitably be a group of people that thinks Cohen is lying, that he made up an elaborate story about a long-lost daughter to avoid his own Weinergate. It's a pretty terrible cover story, though, you have to admit. Brazen at best. While we're eager to find out more details in the story of the Tennessee congressmen and his secret bikini-clad daughter, we're in no rush to dive into another Twitter-induced political scandal. There are more important things going on in the world.