MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee said Thursday that he’s “stunned and dismayed” to learn that DNA tests revealed he is not the father of a woman with whom he had an affectionate Twitter exchange this year.
In February, tweets between Cohen and Victoria Brink, a 24-year-old Texas woman, attracted public attention during the president’s State of the Union address. Soon after, Cohen revealed that he was Brink’s father. He said he’d learned about the relationship three years earlier.
But on Thursday, CNN reported that DNA tests showed Cohen is not her father.
“I was stunned and dismayed when DNA tests disproved what Victoria and I believed about our relationship,” Cohen said in a Thursday statement. “I still love Victoria, hold dear the time I have shared with her, and hope to continue to be a part of her life.
“It’s been a roller coaster ride these last three and a half years from which I have learned something about parenting and some more about love, life, and heartache.”
Brink is the daughter of Texas criminal defense lawyer Cynthia White Sinatra, who ran for Congress in 2006 against Ron Paul. Cohen described his relationship with Sinatra as longtime friends. Texas oil executive John Brink raised Victoria Brink.
CNN reported Thursday that it obtained DNA from John Brink, Victoria Brink and Cohen for tests, and that results showed Cohen wasn’t her father.
Cohen’s office said that he also submitted DNA to determine paternity independent of the CNN report.
Cohen, who has never been married, said in February that he decided to publicly acknowledge Brink as his daughter after bloggers and the media tried to make exchanges during the State of the Union appear salacious. Cohen’s message to Brink included a Twitter abbreviation for “I love you.”
After the tweets began to attract public attention and commentary, an aide to the 64-year-old Memphis Democrat said he had accidentally exchanged a couple of public tweets with a woman who was the daughter of a friend but removed them when he realized they weren’t private.
One was sent during the speech and another was sent the next day, in response to her tweet “@RepCohen just saw you on tv!”
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 after tweeting lewd pictures of himself. Weiner initially claimed a hacker had posted a lewd photo to his Twitter account.
After announcing that Brink was his daughter, Cohen said the episode should be a lesson “not to jump to conclusions.”