WASHINGTON — Just days after a member of Congress had an explicit image released on the internet by an anonymous Twitter user, congressional lawmakers began a strong push to make “revenge porn” or “sextortion” a federal crime.

Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, said he shared a sexually explicit video and text messages with a woman he was seeing after he separated from his second wife. An image from that video of a naked Barton, now 68, appeared on the internet last week, spurring debate over criminal intent.

Tuesday, Sens. Richard Burr, R-N.C., Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said they’d sponsor the new legislation to make “revenge porn” a federal crime. The bill is similar to a bill introduced last year by Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif. Speier introduced the bill in the House again Tuesday.

Burr told McClatchy News Service he expects the proposal to pass easily through the Senate with support from both parties, though the congressional schedule would likely push the vote into early next year. Klobuchar is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the bill’s first stop. Barton apologized for the leaked video last week.

Barton sent the video to a woman whom he saw over the span of several years. In a recorded phone conversation that the woman gave to The Washington Post, Barton asked her not to use the video to hurt his career. She said she had no intention of doing so, but the video surfaced from an anonymous Twitter account.


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