Souder Admits Affair, Will Resign From Congress

Posted May 18, 2010 at 9:14am

Updated: 10:59 a.m.

Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.) announced his resignation from Congress Tuesday after admitting to an affair with a female staffer, according to a statement from his office.

“I sinned against God, my wife and my family by having a mutual relationship with a part-time member of my staff,” Souder said in the statement.

Souder said he planned to submit his official resignation to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Friday.

Souder’s staff informed Minority Leader John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) staff about the decision Sunday, and Souder himself called Boehner on Monday to tell the Republican leader of his resignation.

“In the poisonous environment of Washington, D.C., any personal failing is seized upon, often twisted, for political gain,” he said. “I am resigning rather than to put my family through that painful, drawn-out process.”

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said, “Boehner has been perfectly clear that he will hold our Members to the highest ethical standards.”

Souder is a strong social conservative who has said in the past that his views are driven by religion — a “holistic” exercise in letting his beliefs guide him on all issues. He sits on the Homeland Security Committee, where he is the top Republican on the Subcommittee on Border, Maritime and Global Counterterrorism.

Souder’s willingness to force his social policy views on the District of Columbia has made him unpopular with the city’s leaders. The District’s Delegate in Congress, Democrat Eleanor Holmes Norton, has called him an “incorrigible extremist.” Souder sits on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee and on its subcommittee that oversees the District.

In 1998, Souder supported launching a formal impeachment inquiry into President Bill Clinton, saying he would welcome expanding it to include allegations on such matters as campaign finance abuses. However, he ultimately declared his opposition to impeaching Clinton, saying he should be prosecuted as a private citizen.

The revelations of Souder’s affair come two weeks after he was renominated in the Republican primary with a 48 percent plurality against three challengers.

Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) would call a special election to fill the remainder of Souder’s term. Indiana’s 3rd, which takes in Fort Wayne and other territory in northeastern Indiana, is strongly Republican.

State Sen. Marlin Stutzman could enter the race after placing a strong second to former Sen. Dan Coats in this month’s GOP Senate primary. Auto dealer Bob Thomas and lawyer Phil Troyer, who were Souder’s two leading challengers in the Republican primary, might also consider seeking the GOP nomination.

Tom Hayhurst (D), a former Fort Wayne councilman who ran a competitive but losing campaign against Souder in 2006, was challenging the Congressman again this year.

Greg Giroux contributed to this report.