By Meghashyam Mali - 07/22/13 11:22 AM EDT
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) on Monday said learning that he was not the father of the 24-year-old woman, Victoria Brink, he believed was his daughter was a “personal tragedy” and called for the media to respect his privacy.
“The press has made this a story. This has been a personal tragedy that should be allowed for me and Victoria to deal with independently. She’s hiding out in Houston. She’s hated what’s been said, so has her mother. I’m in the public eye; I’m tired of it. I want to get back to legislating,” said Cohen on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
Cohen later said that Brink was his daughter, and he had discovered the relationship three years ago. But after a paternity test last week, it was found that Brink was the biological daughter of Texas businessman John Brink and not Cohen.
Cohen said at the time that he was “stunned and dismayed” at the news.
Cohen said that he had tweeted at Brink after the State of the Union because he was proud to see her interest in politics.
“She’s been raised in Texas, and her main issues are Louis Vuitton; expensive, stylish clothes; and fun,” he said.
“I was just happy she was into the State of the Union because I’ve been trying to teach her. I thought my daughter needs to know about politics and government,” Cohen added.
The paternity news capped a difficult past week for Cohen, who was also forced to apologize after making what some said was a sexist remark at a female reporter. When asked about the paternity test, Cohen had responded to the reporter: “You’re very attractive, but I’m not talking about it.”
Cohen again raised eyebrows over the weekend when he tweeted that an African-American tow truck operator had said that the paternity and sexism controversies made Cohen seem black.
“Told AfricanAmerican towdriver my week -father -DNA test not father reporter/ attractive fallout.he(not aware of TN9)says,You're BLack! Yo,” Cohen tweeted.
On Monday, Cohen downplayed that controversy and said that he had a close relationship with his mostly African-American constituents, who had embraced him and his personal problems.
“I hear it in Memphis all the time, my constituents don’t look at me as a white person. They say, you’re one of us,” said Cohen. “District 9 is a microcosm of how America works. Blacks can and do embrace me as their congressperson.”