Weiner trying to ride out storm over sexting scandal

Anthony Weiner, a leading candidate for New York

Anthony Weiner, a leading candidate for New York City mayor, speaks with Peg Brunda, a resident of Staten Island on a visit to homes damaged by superstorm Sandy. (July 26, 2013) (Credit: Getty Images)

Anthony Weiner, trying to ride out the storm over his sexting scandal, visited a Sandy-ravaged Staten Island neighborhood Friday and was confronted by a retired schoolteacher who scolded him as morally unfit to be mayor.

For a fourth straight day, his efforts to stay on message were overshadowed by the revelations that he conducted steamy cyber-affairs with three women after similar misbehavior forced his resignation from Congress in 2011.

After reporters peppered him with more questions about his online escapades, he was buttonholed by Peg Brunda, the retired city schoolteacher, who lives in the neighborhood and said she had been willing to give him a chance -- until this week.

Weiner told Brunda: "I care about these communities. I care about you."

"Quite honestly, sir," she replied, "I think you care more about your ego than you do anything else."

Brunda was reflective of Weiner's slipping popularity. Once among the front-runners in polls, his standing nose-dived after the revelations.

"Had I conducted myself in the manner in which you conducted yourself, my job would have been gone," said Brunda, 59, who spent 21 years as a teacher and nine years as an administrator in the city schools.

"I don't quite understand how you would feel you would have the moral authority as the head administrator in this city, to oversee employees, when your standard of conduct is so much lower than the standard of conduct that is expected of us."

After the exchange, Brunda, a Democrat, said, "I don't think Anthony Weiner is going to solve any problem for us because he can't even solve his own!"

Weiner denied a claim, first reported by the London-based MailOnline, that his brother, Jason Weiner, had reached out to one of the women with whom he corresponded online, Sydney Leathers, in apparent concern that she could "be a problem" for Weiner's political comeback.

"That's absolutely not true. Never did in any way," Anthony Weiner said.

Lou Colagiovanni, a Detroit blogger who says he employed Leathers for about two years, also cited a purported Facebook post from Weiner to Leathers shown on thedirty.com, which broke the cyber-affair story. It had Weiner messaging Leathers that "my brother emailed me asking about you."

Jason Weiner, a restaurateur, also denied the accounts. "I never reached out to this person through Facebook, email, social media, or a phone call. I have no involvement whatsoever," he said.

Leathers could not be reached about Colagiovanni's story. But she has said the former congressman asked her directly to delete files of their online sex exchanges.

Asked about that Friday, Weiner ignored the question.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg bemoaned the attention focused on Weiner's scandal Friday but told reporters at a Gracie Mansion event that "conduct like some of these things we've been reading about is reprehensible."

Weiner was clearly ready to talk about other things.

"There's going to reach a point fairly soon that I'm going to say, 'I think I've said enough about it and I'm going to keep talking about other things,' " he said.

With Joan Gralla

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