U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen has revealed he's the father of the 24-year-old Texas woman he was communicating with on Twitter during the State of the Union in an exchange that led some people to jump to a different conclusion.
Cohen, who has never been married, said Friday that he decided to publicly acknowledge Victoria Brink as his daughter after bloggers and the media tried to make the exchanges appear salacious. Cohen's message to Brink included a Twitter abbreviation for "I love you."
"It's amazing how the minds jumped, and started speaking as if they knew what was going on," Cohen said. "It should be a real lesson hopefully ... not to jump to conclusions."
After the tweets began to attract public attention and commentary earlier this week, an aide to the 64-year-old Memphis Democrat said he had accidentally exchanged a couple of public tweets with a woman who is the daughter of a friend, but removed them when he realized they weren't private.
One was sent during the State of the Union speech Tuesday night and the second was sent Wednesday morning, in response to her tweet "(at)RepCohen just saw you on tv!"
Cohen's tweets ended with "Ilu." Aide Michael Pagan said the initials stand for "I love you."
Following the tweets, the Tennessee Republican Party's executive director issued a news release comparing Cohen to former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, who resigned about two years ago in disgrace after tweeting lewd pictures of himself. Weiner initially claimed a hacker had posted a lewd photo to his Twitter account.
"It is very disappointing that Rep. Cohen would use his official congressional Twitter account ... to send personal and unnecessarily revealing messages to college co-eds. Apparently, we have our own Weiner of the South," party executive director Brent Leatherwood said in the statement released Wednesday.
Cohen said he didn't learn that Brink was his daughter until three years ago.
He said the attention she's been getting the last few days is a bit unsettling for her because she's "a private person."
"I have a beautiful daughter and a sweet daughter," Cohen said. "It's been a very difficult experience for her. So my thoughts are with her."
Brink is the daughter of Texas criminal defense lawyer Cynthia White Sinatra, who ran for Congress in 2006 against Ron Paul.
According to her law firm website, the 60-year-old Sinatra was married to Frank Sinatra Jr., the son of the famous crooner.
Cohen described his relationship with Sinatra as longtime friends.