May 18th, 2010
12:12 PM ET

Indiana congressman resigns after admitting to affair

Indiana Rep. Mark Souder is expected to resign Tuesday.

[Updated at 12:12 p.m.] 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, by 13 points 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.

[Posted at 9:45 a.m.] Veteran Indiana Rep. Mark Souder, a Republican, is expected to announce his resignation from Congress Tuesday, according to a GOP aide.

This story is developing. We'll bring you the latest information as we get it.

soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. buddhabill

    Yo Zach, Democrats are just as likely to screw around as the Repubs, it's just that they don't make 'family values' a platform, and then hide behind 'sinning against God' when they get popped. Own it, Doughboy! You sinned against your wife. Religion is indeed the last refuge of a scoundrel.

    May 18, 2010 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
  2. harley

    ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha...and any chick or dude desperate enough to do this dork is beyond disgusting....

    May 18, 2010 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Ann in LV

    What is 'the poisonous atmosphere' in Washington? Maybe it needs to be cleaned via elections and people elected to do the bidding of the people of the United States for a change!!!

    May 19, 2010 at 5:51 am | Report abuse |
  4. Alphonso

    Just three days prior to Souder announcing his resignation, TV 21 in Ft. Wayne interviewed Souder about family values.

    Here is the link to watch the video:

    According to the website he spoke candidly about the lack of a moral compass in Washington particularly in reference to the country's current "financial" state.

    But Souder also spoke about moral discipline in general, and the importance of values in our leaders and government.

    Here is what he had to say about honesty in government and relationships.

    Souder said, “We've had a history of at least lip service to Judeo-Christian values, which means that you care for the poor, you're honest in your relations and there's some sort of guidance higher than yourself that holds you accountable when you fail. If you don't have internal mechanisms, whether it be inside your church or with others, you're going to fall."

    "If you don't have internal mechanisms, whether it be inside your church or with others, you're going to fall."

    HA HA HA HA HA. What a fraud and a hypocrite.

    May 19, 2010 at 8:38 am | Report abuse |
  5. sid

    So where do Barry and Vera fit into all this?

    May 19, 2010 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Justin

    Let me try to borrow a page from my right wing conservative friends.........
    This a referedum on the hypocrisy of the conservative right!!!! Come November all these bums will be thrown out of office!!!!! \\\\\\
    Nope, that stuff still sounds crazy, no matter which side uses it... Guess that means that one politician got caught and is paying the price for HIS actions and it should not reflect on anyone else unless they are hypocrits as well. Darn, I thought I had a shot at becoming the next millionaire Rush or Beck.

    May 23, 2010 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
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