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Indiana Republican Rep. Souder resigns over affair -- the same Souder who preached abstinence

May 18, 2010 |  8:43 am

Indiana Republican Mark Souder at hearing where Congress grilled Toyota officials for problems with accelerator pedals Feb. 24, 2010 by AP Photo
Just say no, congressman. Or perhaps we should say, Just say no, Congress.

Mark Souder is a conservative Republican from Indiana who came to Congress in 1994 as part of Newt Gingrich's revolution, toppling Democrats from power in the House for the first time in 40 years.

When Republicans ran the House, Souder was, as the Washington Post put it, "a warrior for abstinence-only sex education and a critic of other forms of sex education."

Tuesday he resigned from office, giving Democrats an unexpected chance to pick up a seat (Tom Hayhurst gave Souder a scare last time). That's an unexpected opening in a year when conservative anger is fueling voter distrust of Washington.

Confessing to an affair with an aide, the married Souder tried to blame political opponents -- much as former New York Democratic Rep. Eric Massa did when he resigned over inappropriate licking of an aide. Then, Massa blamed the Obama White House for leaking the story to punish him for opposing healthcare reform.

Similarly, in a statement Tuesday, Souder said:

I sinned against God, my wife and my family by having a mutual relationship with a part-time member of my staff. 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.... By stepping aside, my mistake cannot be used as a political football in a partisan attempt to undermine the cause for which I have labored all my adult life.

This is the same Souder who grilled Toyota executives at a hearing Feb. 24 over failures in the firm's braking system.

I suppose hypocrisy is just another word for Congress.

-- Johanna Neuman

Photo:Souder at a congressional hearing questioning Toyota officials. Credit: Associated Press

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