VOL. 128 | NO. 33 | Monday, February 18, 2013
Cohen Revelation is Rare Glimpse Into Private Life
By Bill Dries
U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Memphis, is what social media experts would probably call an impulsive user of Twitter.
Longtime political observers know that Cohen was impulsive in his comments long before he was channeling them through Twitter.
He’s also far from the first tweeter to send a response to someone believing it went to that person and only that person and then discovering everyone following him can see it.
Combine the two with an unexpected message Cohen got Wednesday, Feb. 13, at the State of the Union message as he sat in the House chamber and you have an authentic political bombshell.
Victoria Brink sent Cohen a direct message Wednesday evening as President Barack Obama was speaking.
The message Cohen responded to was from his 24-year-old daughter, Cohen said Thursday.
“She was watching the State of the Union and proud to see her dad on TV and that’s why I replied to her so quickly,” Cohen said. “I was just so ecstatic about it.”
Cohen talked publicly about his daughter less than 24 hours after his office told reporters the woman was the daughter of a longtime friend and supporter of Cohen.
“She is my daughter and I’ve known that for three years,” Cohen said, referring to Brink. “I was just very thrilled to find out I had a daughter. I’ve been thrilled to start to share experiences with her, which has been a slow process. It’s escalated and elevated and that’s good. I’ve been able to bring her to Memphis and show her some things in the city … and get her to see my house and learn more about her father and hopefully she’ll start to appreciate some of the things I’ve appreciated and I can share them with her.”
“She was watching the State of the Union and proud to see her dad on TV and that’s why I replied to her so quickly.”
Cohen declined Thursday to talk about how he came to learn he had a daughter.
Cohen attended the White House Christmas party with Brink late last year.
Brink was born while Cohen was a state senator, five years before he ran in the Democratic primary for Tennessee governor and seven years before he made his first run for the U.S. Congress.
Cohen is an outspoken and unapologetic Democratic partisan who since his election to the U.S. House in 2006 has said he prefers the political environment of Washington over the atmosphere in the Tennessee legislature.
He has also talked frequently about growing up in Memphis. Any conversation that includes a mention of his childhood will invariably lead to a discussion about his love of University of Memphis basketball, Memphis music or barbecue – frequently all three.
But Cohen has rarely talked about his personal life as an adult separate from the business and the rhetoric of the Tennessee legislature and the U.S. House of Representatives and the campaigns for election and re-election to both legislative bodies.
It appeared that would remain the case Wednesday evening into Thursday afternoon as social media speculation intensified and some suggested Cohen and Brink were romantically involved.
Cohen said part of his reason for going public was the reaction in the media and among some Republicans.
“Many of them took it in the totally wrong way and jumped on it – particularly the Republican Party of Tennessee and the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee,” Cohen said Thursday.