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. debbie

    GOP always telling people how they should live. How pure a conservative they are. Yet they send their young eagles to a lesbian strip club, use fear tactics to sway opinion in PowerPoint presentations, and what gets me here is that Souder says he sinned against God and his wife but fails to mention each and every constituent!

    May 18, 2010 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  2. GI Joe

    We need to clear out all the immoral hypocrits – no matter which side. AND NO LIFELONG BENEFITS. They should lose ALL rights.

    May 18, 2010 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  3. Darla (Edmonton, Canada)

    ... another one bites the dust ...

    May 18, 2010 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  4. GI Joe

    When will Senator Ensign be put in jail for bribing his mistress and her entire family? WHEN???

    May 18, 2010 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  5. Norm

    So does this guy continue to get his regular pay and benefits for life?
    I bet there are connections to BP oil somewhere too..

    May 18, 2010 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  6. Michael Lombard

    The toxic Washington environment has certainly contributed to the demise of one of America's finest servants. I am honored to know Mark and my thoughts and prayers go to Mark, Diane and their family.

    May 18, 2010 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  7. awaitingliberalizationbyCNN

    Couple this with the Blumenthal story and the CBO coming out last week with how Obama, Pelosi and Reid lied about the true cost of the Health Care Reform bill and you libertards may get a sense of why the TEA Party is growing and want to join it.

    May 18, 2010 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  8. Norm

    Was your affair the best decision for your family? Why start worring about your them now?

    May 18, 2010 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  9. My Brother's Keeper

    At least he was boning a woman ... this is progress for the holier-than-thou Republicans.

    May 18, 2010 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  10. ???????????

    I am surprised, which is not the same as disappointed.

    May 18, 2010 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  11. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I'm looking at his picture. I'm trying to envision it. I can't!

    Embezzling? Yes. Dereliction of duties? Yes. Affair? Really?

    He did the right thing, though, by stepping down. He can go through this personal issue with a little bit of privacy if he handles it right.

    In regards to Boehener and his "...will hold our Members to the highest ethical standards...", yeah, right, tell it to the Marines buddy! When pigs fly is more likely.

    May 18, 2010 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  12. Katie

    The House Minority leader is going to hold his Members to the highest ethical standards??!! How many other guys are going to have to quit? What about all the people that work for the Members? Are there going to be standards for them too? Does this mean they won't be associating with people (lobbyists, news pundits, consultants, ex-Members, church leaders) whose standards are not known to be very high?

    Should be interested to watch this unfold.

    May 18, 2010 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  13. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    Another neo-con rubber-stamp bites the dust! Excellent!

    Maybe, if enough of those self-righteous bible-thumpers leave the GOP, the party can go back to being what it used to, and ought to, be: the party of real fiscal restraint, of respect for individual liberties, and of a sensible foreign policy. It hasn't been that for a long, long, time, but once upon a time it was.

    May 18, 2010 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  14. Bill

    Another big fraud babbling about "God". When will voters stop falling for these guys? The more they babble about "God", the bigger fraud they are.

    He is just another horny opportunist in Congress. Did he also live in the "C Street" religious nut house with all the other philandering Republican moralists?

    May 18, 2010 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  15. Vesi

    Mark come to the congress during the period when Newt Gingrich was speaker of the house. Newt committed far worse indiscretions in his marriage. He is prancing about all over the DC and even "considering" a run for the presidency, he is immoral and shameless. Mark has at least the guts to step down and will try to fix things in his life.

    May 18, 2010 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  16. Layla

    Far too many elected officials on both sides feel this is appropriate behavior.

    Anymore out there? Have the guts to step down before we find you.

    May 18, 2010 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  17. Wisconsinite

    And the "family values" party strikes again . . . .

    May 18, 2010 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  18. Shucks

    Just too funny. Another right winger bites the dust after dropping his pants. This really isn't news anymore. It would be more of a news story if a right wing christian politician didn't sleep with someone other that their spouse or significant other. The hypocrisy comes from these losers when they preach their rhetoric about christians, and the sins of others, while overlooking that their pants are at their ankles in a hotel room.

    May 18, 2010 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  19. Ed

    Shocking! Another Repugnican caught cheating on his wife. At least it was with a woman I suppose. Wonder if this was one of the many hypocrites chastising Clinton for his White House frolicking back in the late 90's.

    May 18, 2010 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  20. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Souder won a hard-fought primary two weeks ago but he failed to receive more than 50 percent of the vote.


    I also thik that Souder ws more than likely FORCED out by the Rethugs, just like they screwed Crist out. This is more in line with the New Nazi Republican Party. If you are not viewed as a viable tool for the Take The Country Back By Any Means Possible Campaign.....well, then you are forced out or forced to resign. They(GOP) are more than willing to circle the wagons and protect you and ALL of your indiscretions (see Sanford S.C.) if you can be of use to them.

    Sorry Souder. Evidently you don't have what the domestic Taliban needs.


    May 18, 2010 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  21. Will

    Say it ain't so! Another member from the "Family Values" party caught in this type of scandal? Bunch of F'ing hypocrites...

    May 18, 2010 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  22. me in NH

    another Bum, who has been there since 1994 – glad to see him go.

    throw all the other bums out !!!

    May 18, 2010 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  23. Sniffit

    Another dingaling brought down by his dingaling. Family values, krischun nashun, blah blah blah...

    May 18, 2010 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  24. Anonymous

    Another self-righteous, moral, republican exposed. People of america why do we keep putting these low life politicians in office, I just don't know. These republicans are nothing but, me and party first, not the good of the country. If these type of republicans are voted in office, we deserve everything bad that they do to us.

    May 18, 2010 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  25. Russ

    Oh just one more bible thumping, morally corrupt Republican. Just do as I pretend to do, not as I actually do! We Republicans stand for family values and the Christian faith. We would never preach something to the flock that we wouldn't do ourselves. Will it ever end. You know what, it doesn't have to end, just quite pretending to be better than the rest of us.

    May 18, 2010 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
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