PITTSBURGH – U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy had counted on his anti-abortion record as one of many planks to help him get elected to Congress eight times, and it was his perceived personal betrayal of that record that ended his career.
For Murphy, a practicing psychologist, author and former commander in the Navy Reserves who had made mental health treatment a signature issue, everything began falling apart when his hometown newspaper revealed Tuesday that the congressman had suggested a mistress get an abortion when they thought she might be pregnant.
It was the beginning of the end for Murphy's 20-year political career.
Voters, talk show hosts, party officials and anti-abortion activists turned against Murphy. Two days later, Murphy informed House Speaker Paul Ryan and Gov. Tom Wolf that he would resign Oct. 21.
“I'm very disappointed,” said Vinnie Richichi, sipping coffee Friday morning outside a coffee shop a few blocks from Murphy's suburban Pittsburgh district office.
Richichi, a 62-year-old Democrat who had crossed party lines to vote for Murphy, called him “another politician where what's good for everyone else isn't good enough for him.”
Murphy, 65, has remained publicly silent, other than a brief statement saying he would seek help as he and his family work through their “difficulties.”
A month ago, one of Murphy's affairs became public in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette after the newspaper won a court motion to unseal the woman's divorce case.
Then on Tuesday, the Post-Gazette published a six-page memorandum from Murphy's congressional chief of staff, Susan Mosychuk, dated June 8, in which she accused Murphy of subjecting his staff members to “threats, hostility, anger and harassment.”
It also published text messages between Murphy and Shannon Edwards, with whom he was having an affair. In one, she told him he had “zero issue posting your pro-life stance all over the place when you had no issue asking me to abort our unborn child just last week when we thought that was one of the options.”
The newspaper also referenced an email last year to Edwards in which Murphy admitted to another affair with a woman named Susan.
It was the perceived hypocrisy on the abortion issue that most inflamed party officials, anti-abortion activists and voters from across the political spectrum.