The chairman of Pennsylvania’s Republican Party abruptly resigned Tuesday after a news report that he sent a sexually explicit photograph of himself to a female candidate who ran unsuccessfully for Philadelphia City Council.
The report, in The Philadelphia Inquirer, said that the chairman, Val DiGiorgio, sent the candidate, Irina Goldstein, a photo of his erect penis on Facebook Messenger after exchanging messages for a few months after she accepted his friend request last October.
Mr. DiGiorgio frequently commented about Ms. Goldstein’s appearance in those messages, which The Inquirer said ended in February when Ms. Goldstein accused Mr. DiGiorgio of sexual harassment.
“I extend my deepest apologies to my family and colleagues for this unfortunate distraction,” Mr. DiGiorgio wrote Tuesday in a resignation letter shared by the state Republican Party on its website.
Mr. DiGiorgio, however, disputed the lewd nature of his communications with Ms. Goldstein.
“A recent media report contains gross mischaracterizations of mutual consensual communications between myself and a former primary candidate,” he wrote. “My resignation should in no way be confused as confirmation of these mischaracterizations. I intend to rigorously defend myself against these assertions and protect my family, my colleagues, and the party from this private matter.”
Ms. Goldstein finished last of seven candidates in the May primary.
Pennsylvania looms as a major battleground in next year’s presidential election. In 2016, Donald J. Trump won the Keystone State by less than 1 percent over Hillary Clinton, securing all 20 of its electoral votes.