Mark Souder gives up seat in fear of House Ethics Committee

The U.S. Capitol on a bright sunny day

Mark Souder resigned his congressional seat after gossip about his adultery drew threats of an investigation from the House Ethics Committee. Flickr photo.

Mark Souder, a married, family-values-oriented, conservative Republican congressman from Indiana, has been accused of having an affair with a female aide. Souder,59, announced he will resign Friday, even with a Mark Souder for Congress reelection campaign in full swing. Rather than face  House Ethics Committee investigations, Mark Souder chose to quit after it became clear he could no longer spin rumors of his philandering into politics as usual.

House Ethics Committee investigations

Mark Souder is the latest conservative Republican whose political career has been derailed by alleged hypocritical conduct. His resignation Friday comes as Senator John Ensign, a Republican from Nevada, resists increasing demands for his resignation and a House Ethics Committee investigation. Ensign admitted having an affair with a former campaign aide who is married to a top staffer in his office. Ensign’s parents became like a pay day loan company to the couple,  funneling them $96,000 to keep quiet. Politico.com reports that the bipartisan Senate Ethics Committee is considering holding public hearings in the case, a move that some believe could drive Ensign from office.

Mark Souder for Congress implodes

The Mark Souder for Congress campaign presents him as an evangelical christian. Yet he tried to dodge questions about his adultery all through the primary election he survived two weeks ago. Fox News reports that Souder denied the affair, calling the story “revenge politics at play.” But the gossip on Capitol Hill became too much to survive. Sources in the House told Fox that that the nature of Souder’s affair would have landed him a House Ethics Committee investigation. Rather than share what looks to be Ensign’s fate, Souder bailed out.

Mark Souder blames Washington

Souder was rumored to be fooling around with a staffer identified as Tracy Jackson, a woman in her mid-40s. Jackson would accompany the congressman to events and to record ads at a Christian radio broadcast station. As tales of Souder’s adultery gained traction in Washington, he ducked out of sight. Souder was absent from Washington most of last week and missed multiple votes. When it became clear that he had nowhere left to run or hide, Souder claimed that he was at home tending to his ill wife. The Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne, Ind., reports that in a news conference the eight-term congressman fessed up to his behavior, but continued to blame Washington:

“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 poisonous environment of Washington, D.C., any personal failing is seized upon and twisted for political gain. I am resigning rather than put my family through a painful, drawn out process.”

Mark Souder voting record

Mark Souder’s voting record shows he has voted with a majority of his Republican colleagues 92.5 percent of the time during the current Congress. In January he joined other Republicans in signing an document in D.C. Superior Court calling for a voter referendum on whether to legalize same-sex marriage in the District.

Souder resignation dims Republican hopes

Mark Souder’s resignation could damage Republican chances of holding onto his GOP-leaning district in northeastern Indiana. The Associated Press reports that Souder won a bruising Republican primary on May 4 with 48 percent of the vote. Souder is slated to face the Democratic candidate who, four years ago, gave him the toughest challenge since he was first elected as part of the Republican’s “Contract with America” election of 1994. It’s up to Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels to decide whether to call a special election to sustain the Republican rubber stamp of Mark Souder’s voting record or wait until the November ballot.

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