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Souder announces his resignation

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Frank Gray / The Journal Gazette
Mark Souder reads a prepared resignation statement Tuesday morning in his office in the Fort Wayne federal building.

Souder to resign; cites 'relationship' with staffer

Frank Gray / The Journal Gazette
Frank Gray / The Journal Gazette

WASHINGTON -- Saying he "sinned against God, my wife and my family by having a mutual relationship with a part-time member of my staff," Rep. Mark Souder, R-3rd, said Tuesday he will resign from Congress.

"I am so ashamed to have hurt those I love," he said. "I am so sorry to have let so many friends down, people who have fought so hard for me."

He issued a written statement and then read it at a five-minute announcement in his Fort Wayne office, choking up several times.

"I feel just awful," he said in an e-mail interview. "It is a nightmare. Can't believe it is happening. But it is best for Diane and I, who love each other and have a firm foundation to build upon."

During the news conference, he deviated from his written statement once.

"I'm sick of politicians who drag their spouses up in front of the cameras rather than confronting the problem they caused," he said, a reference to his solo appearance at the news conference.

He has been married to his wife, Diane, for more than 30 years. They have three adult children.

Souder, who won renomination two weeks ago to run for a ninth term, said he won't be a candidate in the fall. In a separate e-mail to The Journal Gazette, he said he will return to Washington later this week to clean out his office.

"I believe it is the best decision for my family, the people of northeast Indiana and our country," he said in a statement.

Souder is the latest politician whose political career crumbled under rumors and admissions of extramarital affairs.

"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.

He said his wife and children "were more than willing to stand here with me. We are a committed family. But the error is mine, and I should bear the responsibility."

Souder did not identify the staff member.

Souder, who describes himself as an evangelical Christian, said doing a good job in Congress is all-consuming, "especially in a district with costly, competitive elections every two years. I do not have any sort of 'normal' life – for family, for friends, for church, for community."

He said serving in Congress "has been a blessing and a responsibility given from God. I wish I could have been a better example."

"As I leave public office, my plans are focused upon repairing my marriage, earning back the trust of my family and my community, and renewing my walk with the lord," he said.

Ben Lanka of The Journal Gazette contributed to this story.

See for yourself

To read the resignation statement, verbatim, click here.

Indiana GOP scrambles to retain 3rd District seat. Click here.

Souder's political career at a glance Click here.