Rep. Mark Souder has announced his retirement from Congress, citing his
affair with a female staffer. The Indiana Republican has been a staunch
advocate of conservative social positions such as abstinence-only
education and blocking gay marriage laws. "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 a statement. "I am so ashamed to have hurt those
I love." When Souder told GOP leadership of the affair, he was asked to
resign. How does the congressman's history inform this incident?
- Souder: Washington's Role
The congressman's statement accepted most of the responsibility. "In
the poisonous environment of Washington, D.C., any personal failing is
seized upon, often twisted, for political gain. ... I am resigning
rather than put my family through that painful, drawn-out process. Diane
and my family were more than willing to stand here with me. We are a
committed family. But the error is mine, and I should bear the
- He's No Partisan Republican The New York
Times' Carl Hulse calls Souder "an
evangelical Christian who frustrated Republican leaders when the party
controlled the House by sometimes breaking from the party line on
spending and other issues. ... Souder was unlikely to find much support
from the leadership, which is focused on trying to recapture the House
in November and has taken action against other members who have been
accused of misconduct."
- Had Shaky Electoral Prospects The
Washington Post's Chris Cillizza and
Aaron Blake report, "The revelations regarding Souder come two weeks
after he survived a serious primary challenge from car dealer Bob
Thomas who spent considerable sums of his own money on the race. Souder
won the primary with less than 50 percent of the vote." They say GOP
leadership will select a replacement, one who is presumably more
- His All-Consuming Anti-Gay Rights Fight
AMERICAblog's Joe Sudbay chronicles that
"Souder has long been a crusader in the House against same-sex marriage.
This year, he
signed an amicus brief in a case against D.C.'s new marriage law.
... He also stated, 'I'm a Christian first, a conservative second and a
Republican third.'" Sudbay also says Souder "explained how gay marriage
was going to take over the country."
- The Dark Irony
FireDogLake's Teddy Partridge fumes, "This
career-ending dalliance is especially ironic given Souder’s
witch-hunts, fake audits, and harassment of San Francisco AIDS
prevention agencies early this century, which diverted scarce resources
and may have cost lives. ... The AIDS prevention non-profit agency I
worked for early this century was almost destroyed by ‘family values
conservative’ Mark Souder’s witch hunts and prurience. He was, filling
some undeserved chairmanship role in the GOP House, convinced that our
HIV/AIDS prevention messaging to sexually active adults was too explicit
and violated the odious Helms amendment preventing sexually transmitted
disease prevention messaging from, um, talking about sex."
Buy Own 'Family Values' Positions Talking Points Memo's Justin Elliott calls Souder
"a champion of abstinence education and traditional family values. ... Fox
News, which first reported
the development, suggests that there may be ethical impropriety of some
kind. The eight-term Indiana congressman is, of course, a vocal
proponent of traditional family values. He has been married since 1974
and has three grown children." Elliott reports that Souder and his
mistress previously recorded a Web video
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