May 18th, 2010
12:37 PM ET
13 years ago

Indiana congressman resigns after admitting to affair

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Souder is stepping down from Congress."](CNN) –Rep. Mark Souder, R-Indiana, abruptly announced his resignation Tuesday, after acknowledging that he “sinned against God” by engaging in a relationship with a member of his staff.

The 59-year-old married father of three, who just won a competitive primary, said he will leave office at the end of the week.

"I believe it is the best decision for my family, the people of northeast Indiana, and our country,” an emotional Souder said at a news conference in his district. “I will submit my resignation to Speaker Pelosi effective this Friday.”

Souder, politically a social conservative, made the stunning revelation that he had an inappropriate relationship outside of his marriage but offered no more details.

"I sinned against God, my wife and my family by having a mutual relationship with a part-time member of my staff," he said. "In the poisonous environment of Washington, D.C, any personal failing is seized upon, often twisted, for political gain.

"I am resigning rather than to put my family through that painful, drawn-out process," he added.

Souder won the GOP primary two weeks ago, but failed to receive more than 50 percent of the vote. He was first elected to Congress in 1994 and represents the northeast region of the state.

Souder has been married to his wife, Diane, since 1974. The couple has three grown children and two grandchildren, according to a biography on Souder's web site.

"I am so ashamed to have hurt those I love," Souder said. "I am so sorry to have let so many friends down, people who have fought so hard for me."

Kevin Smith, a spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner, said the Ohio Republican "has been perfectly clear that he will hold our Members to the highest ethical standards.”

Souder's announcement comes two months after Rep. Eric Massa, D-New York, stepped down after admitting to groping male staffers.

Speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill Tuesday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer dismissed claims Republicans dealt more swiftly with Souder than did Democrats with Massa.

"As soon as I found out about Massa I said, 'You need to go to the ethics committee. If you don't, I'll do it within 48 hours.' He went and three weeks later he was gone," he said.

"They're trying to turn a sow's ear into a silk purse,” Hoyer added. “And I don't think that's appropriate. There were two different situations, entirely different."

Souder easily won re-election in 2008 and Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, beat then-Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, in the district by 13 percentage points in that year’s presidential contest.

Tom Hayhurst, a doctor in the Fort Wayne area, won the Democratic primary in the district earlier this month. Hayhurst ran against Souder in 2006, losing by a 54-46 percent margin. For now, it is unclear who will be the GOP candidate in November.

The seat will remain vacant until a special election is held, the date of which is to be determined by Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, according to the Indiana Secretary of State's office. The parties will determine which candidates appear on the special election ballot by caucus.

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soundoff (86 Responses)
  1. Victim of GOP Taliban

    so much for Republican family values

    May 18, 2010 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  2. Moderate

    Here we go with the blood stained banner thing again. Guy sounds like Jimmy Swagger.

    May 18, 2010 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  3. CR

    Sen. Ensign and Gov. Sanford should follow his example.

    May 18, 2010 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  4. rita

    Hypocrisy reigns in the Republican party. It always has and it always will. After winning office on full-blown anti-gay rhetoric and after all of his fake moralistic anti-gay votes against legal American gay citizens, he tip-toed off, like so many other married men in his line of work, to be with a mistress. These hypocritical and deviant actions are no longer isolated Republican incidents, but now seem to be the Republican norm. Souder has said, "In the poisonous environment of Washington D.C., any personal failing is seized upon, often twisted, for political gain". Well, isn't that fresh. There is no better "twister" than this twisted soul and who would have better knowledge of immoral political gain than Souder.? The myth of heterosexual moral superiority is tumbling like a tall stack of cheap hotel keys. We are getting a clearer and clearer picture of the small and indecent men who deny loving gay families their civil rights. Everyone will now see the ugliness of this picture except his Republican constituents who continue to wear blinders so as not to be bothered by the peripheral mud fest slung at fellow gay American citizens on their behalf.

    May 18, 2010 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  5. CNN Giddy over this one!

    Note the first thing you see in the headline is his party affiliation. When this involves a democrat, his party affiliation is hidden.

    CNN will run this for months to score points for the democratic party.

    Here's proof.
    We constantly hear about Sanford's life issues. When's the last time did anything on Edwards?

    May 18, 2010 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  6. Peter Tuths

    They're dropping left and right.

    Something should tell this guy there's no such thing as sin.

    May 18, 2010 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  7. Mountaineer

    Didn't you know? Staffers are like personal property to these people, both democrat and republicans or so they think. What I find interesting in all this is that the AOL news site reported it, but didn't allow for comments. Had it been a Democrat, the AOL News site would have given their republican audience plenty of space to comment!

    May 18, 2010 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  8. John Starnes Tampa Florida

    Why is the party of "family values" so brimming with folks like him, Sanford, McCain, the "wide stance" bathroom stall guy, and more, even as they lecture us all about "righteousness" and morality and protecting the sacred institution of marriage from gays while they assault it continually by cheating on their spouses?

    May 18, 2010 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  9. once upon a horse

    so has the GOP FINALLY drop the "party of Family Values" slogan that they've been promoting all these years?

    May 18, 2010 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  10. Tina

    This is what they all do. They become leaders and think they are it and then let the other head tyhink for them.

    May 18, 2010 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  11. AProudCitizen

    another republican bites the dust. LOL. Conservatives such hypocrites....

    May 18, 2010 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
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