Former Rep. Tim Murphy Honorably Discharged After Scandal, Outcome of Review Unknown

Pennsylvania Republican left Navy amid reports of an extramarital affair

Former Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., attends a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center to call on the Senate to pass mental health reform legislation. Murphy was honorably discharged from the Navy in September 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

After reports of an extramarital affair torpedoed former Rep. Tim Murphy’s congressional career, the Navy launched its own review of his conduct.

Murphy, a commander in the Navy Reserves, was honorably discharged. That officially happened on Sept. 11, 2017, according to the Navy.

But it’s unclear whether Murphy obtained an honorable discharge while the review was underway — or if the review was completed before he got the honorable discharge. Roll Call asked the Navy for more details.

“Typically we don’t discuss internal administrative actions,” Cmdr. Doug Gabos, a Navy public affairs officer, said in an email.

The review likely started after news of Murphy’s affair broke, Gabos said. It would have been conducted by Murphy’s immediate chain of command, he said, but did not provide contact information or more specific dates.

Murphy quit Congress last year after revelations that he pressured a woman with whom he was having an affair to get an abortion, despite selling himself as an anti-abortion Republican.

“I am no longer a member of Congress, I am a private citizen,” Murphy said when asked about the discharge this week. “Please leave my family alone.”

In most cases, service members under review will not get a discharge because all personnel actions are suspended, said Eugene R. Fidell, who has represented many service members in high-profile cases and teaches military justice at Yale Law School.

“If the person is attending disciplinary actions or under investigation, normally they would not process a discharge,” he said. “That conclusion would usually have only been drawn after the matter was fully investigated.”

Murphy was commissioned in the reserves in 2009 and served in the Operation Health Support Unit at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, from September 2009 through April 2017.

He was on “drilling status” at a voluntary training unit in Washington, D.C., where he participated in part-time unit training activities, at the time of his discharge.

Murphy’s affair could have been reviewed under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Adultery is a prosecutable crime subject to Article 134, which includes “any offense which is of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces, or conduct which is prejudicial to good order and discipline.”

To prove an adultery case under the UCMJ, a prosecutor must show extramarital sex occurred between two parties and that it brought discredit to the armed forces. Murphy admitted the affair about a week before he left the Navy, saying in a statement that the fault was his own and that he would offer no excuses.

Typically, adultery comes up as an offense only when paired with other charges, Fidell said.

“There are standards on when adultery should be pursued,” he said. “If his adultery didn’t have some palpable connection with military service, it’s generally not their affair.”

Murphy now works for Cranmer Consultants, a government relations firm, where he will be consulting on economic development and the opioid crisis, according to a report by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

“Despite his personal issues, the connections and knowledge he has will be invaluable,” former Allegheny County Commissioner Bob Cranmer told the publication. “As far as his effectiveness goes and his ability to know and advise me what’s going on in Washington, [the personal issues are] not an issue.”

Democrat Conor Lamb won the March special election to replace Murphy, pulling off a surprise victory in the Republican-held 18th District.

Watch: Congress Debates Immigration and Appropriations, but Trump’s Focused on North Korea and Mueller

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.