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. Wil in the VA.

    Well let's see just how long it takes the republicans to blame this on the Obama adminastration and the dems. This will be swept under the rug and the republicans will some how spin it to be the Dems fault and the right wing media will run with that mark my words.

    May 18, 2010 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  2. gt

    clean house ,, both parties,,, get rid of spector ,, new blood new ideas ,, no more careers politians.....

    May 18, 2010 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  3. No-sense makes nonsense

    John Boehner ... get off your high horse! Your 'high ethical standards' should refer to disengagement from being involved with Corporate Power rather than weather you're diddling with another person sexually. The Church and State is separate in the US if you didn't pay attention ... so should Business and Government.

    May 18, 2010 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  4. Jim in Bisbee

    I am shocked, shocked, that a member of God's Only Party would revel in the sinful pleasures of sex, especially outside of marriage.

    I wonder if I can somehow get lifelong abstinence inserted as a tenet of the Republican Party? That would eventually solve the problem of them reproducing and making more Republicans. Another solution would be to send them to school – it has been shown that the more educated a person is, the more likely they are to be liberal.

    May 18, 2010 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  5. mine

    getting to be a VERY famiiar story

    May 18, 2010 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  6. Leroy

    If only they would ALL resign. Republicans have no place in congress; they support bombing, cutting of all services and wall street CEOs. This is good news.

    May 18, 2010 11:50 am at 11:50 am |

    Another fine example of the GOP, conservative, family values HYPOCRITE. They preach one thing and do the opposite, lie, cheat and steal, the GOP way.

    Vote NO in NOvember to the party of NO.

    May 18, 2010 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  8. Rich-St Louis

    Idiot – when will these "public servants" learn? I feel sorry for his family, but at least he has enough good sense to resign. Unfortunately I read his statement and he obfuscates about his actions and talks about eternal truths. Please just go away.

    No doubt the Democrats will attempty to parlay the political gain; but the truth is these have become cross-party disgraces.

    May 18, 2010 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  9. Southern Republican

    Well, I guess we've lost another one to lust. Are politicians of both parties stupid or maybe their brains are in their pants?

    May 18, 2010 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  10. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert but...

    Ya know, this is getting so predictable. Our congress critters, on both sides of the aisle, are really a reflection of our society in general. Face it, we've got all of this magic technology, but we've still got caveman brains. Everything we do is just an updated version of build a fire, kill a bunny rabbit with a pointed stick, club your neighbor and steal his woman. No offense meant to cavemen. Have a nice day!

    May 18, 2010 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  11. jilli


    A shining example of republican style "family values" Add him to the long list of hypocrits and liars.

    Sen. John Ensign's (R-Nev.), Gov. Mark Sanford's (R-S.C.), Gov. Jim Gibbons (R-Nev.), Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho), Mark Foley, Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, Tom Delay. He joins a long and illustrious list of republican "family values" frauds, liars and hypocrits. Perhaps the gop has a different definition of "family values" than "real America" does. But in the gop, this clown would probably be reelected. In the republican handbook, "family values", only applies to the other party.

    Mr. Souder even made a video with his mistress touting the glory of abstinence. His repeated use of "god" in his resignation is even more deplorable.

    Just another one.

    May 18, 2010 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  12. Retired Army in San Antonio

    Wow......he's stepping down because he had an affair?

    I mean......what could be worse than "Hiking the Appalachian Trail" or providing a $90 thousand pay off to your mistress (and wife of a subordinate) to keep quiet?

    MUST be more to the story...........

    May 18, 2010 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  13. Mike

    Another incumbent down, too many more to go.

    May 18, 2010 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  14. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    Boehner will hold his party to the highest possible standards?

    I guess that stops with the White House because if it doesn't, where was Boehner during the Bush Cabal's grab for power and feathering the Halliburton nest? Or the absence of WMD's that started the War in Iraq?

    May 18, 2010 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  15. Brian

    So much for Rep. Souder's Christian family values and abstinence only education platform that he has been so proud of all these years.

    May 18, 2010 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  16. Burt Linconer

    Poor guy, I hope God can forgive him....ha,ha,ha.ha

    May 18, 2010 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  17. Alex

    "Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, beat then-Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, by 13 points percentage points in that year’s presidential contest."

    HUH??? Did I just slip into an alternate universe and no one told me?

    May 18, 2010 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  18. Steve (the real one)

    Good! He needs to go! How can any of these politcians be trusted to take care of the business of our country when they cannot even take care of their own personall business? Exactly how low is the new standard for these guys? Just in case you don't remember, it is BOTH parties!

    May 18, 2010 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  19. martin

    How did Drudge miss this one? And Beck, too?

    May 18, 2010 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  20. Dean

    "I am so ashamed to have hurt those I love," Souder said.

    I am glad to hear this. I didn't think was the word "shame" was in any politicians vocabulary. Maybe there is still a glimmer of hope.

    May 18, 2010 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  21. Jim In Miami

    Mark Souder – brought to you by the 'family values' party – the republicans.
    At least he has more class than John Ensign.

    May 18, 2010 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  22. Brad

    Another blow for the righteous GOP "values voters." Perhaps they're preaching the wrong values . . .

    May 18, 2010 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  23. Keith in NJ

    It is good to finally see someone fess up right away and do the right thing instead of deny deny deny until the evidence can't be challenged.At least give him credit for that.

    May 18, 2010 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  24. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    You got to love these republican family values. And these are the same idiots protesting at soldier's funerals. Republicans are becoming more dispicable day after day.

    May 18, 2010 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  25. best decision for my family, the people of northeast Indiana, and our country

    good now the rest of the GOP resign and we're a better country

    May 18, 2010 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
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