NY Politician Explains Nude Web Pics: 'They're Art' And not just art, but 'powerful' art, says NY county legislator C. Stephen Eckel By Mary Papenfuss, Newser User Posted Nov 7, 2011 1:32 AM CST Updated Nov 7, 2011 2:30 AM CST 8 comments Comments WHAM-TV covers brouhaha over C. Stephen Eckel nude photos. (whecmicrosites) (Newser) – Here's a new defense of naked photos by a politician. "They're art," says upstate New York Democratic county legislator C. Stephen Eckel, who also works as a photographer and has taught photography. Eckel, who last week yanked a pair of full frontal shots from his own website, calls the controversy over the photos a distraction. "“They have to resort to these lowdown, slimy tricks. This is just a low attack to put my stuff from an artistic portfolio to be used to smear me," Eckel tells the New York Post. "My integrity as a photographer and as an artist is strong and powerful, and my integrity as a county legislator is strong and powerful." But his GOP rival Tony Micciche shoots back: "I don't see how anybody can not question the judgment of someone who puts something like this up on a website, especially where there's no safeguards for children to be protected from it." It's the first time there's been a flap about the photos, which were taken and posted 11 years ago when Eckel was getting his MFA. WHAM-TV reports the shots were "presented as art," and Gawker calls them "pretentious." What the public thinks will likely be obvious in tomorrow's re-election vote.