All the Questions Raised By Souder’s Exit

Aren't They Darling?

We at ALO will ignore the pontification as to who will ascend to be the new Republican candidate but we are scratching our heads about the wisdom on that side of the aisle.

First of all it sounds like a lot of people knew about this Congressman Mark Souder-Tracy Meadows Jackson affair and yet he was allowed to win a primary.

MSNBC.com gives us a better idea of how it unfolded:

Indiana congressman Mark Souder’s resignation, announced Tuesday, came after anonymous tipsters called his aides and his opponents in a Republican primary to say he was having an extramarital affair with a part-time staffer, according to sources familiar with the calls.

The conservative Christian congressman’s chief of staff, Renee Howell, confronted him last week over the rumored affair with Tracy Meadows Jackson, according to a source in the office. On Tuesday morning, two weeks after winning the primary, Souder publicly admitted the affair — without naming the staffer — and said he would resign effective Friday.

The affair began after Jackson was hired in 2004, according to the source in the office. Jackson, who is married, was to be a guest host with Souder for a daily radio spot he recorded for WFCV, a Christian radio station in Fort Wayne, Ind. Jackson also at one point played host for a local cable-access show that served as a platform for Souder to discuss conservative issues, and she helped produce numerous videos of Souder’s speeches and positions, including one in which they discussed his strong support for teen abstinence.

Jackson did not respond Tuesday to repeated e-mails and calls. The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to freely discuss the sensitive matter.

After aides to Souder learned last week of the congressman’s affair, they contacted Minority Leader John Boehner’s office. A Souder aide met on Sunday with members of Boehner’s leadership staff, and Boehner spoke by phone to Souder on Monday night, just hours before the Souder announced that he would resign.

House members are prohibited from having sexual relationships with their aides.

House Republican leaders, who hammered Democrats over the sexual harassment scandal that toppled Rep. Eric Massa in March, said little Tuesday about the Souder resignation. The minority leader “has been perfectly clear that he will hold our members to the highest ethical standards,” a spokesman for Boehner said.

Less than a week before the May 4 primary, the sources said, anonymous callers told Souder’s Republican rivals he was regularly meeting a girlfriend for romantic trysts in state parks near Fort Wayne. One caller alleged that Souder and a staffer went together late at night to the remote and heavily forested Robinson Lake boat launch in Whitley County.

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Video

Amid sex scandal, congressman resigns
May 18: Family values conservative Rep. Mark Souder is resigning after admitting to an affair with a female staff member.

msnbc tv

But the opponents questioned the reliability of the information and did not make a public issue of the claims.

As of Tuesday, Souder and his wife, Diane Zimmer Souder, remained together, according to one source. Souder and his wife have three grown children — two sons and a daughter — and two grandchildren.

In the primary, Souder survived a serious challenge from car dealer Bob Thomas, who spent considerable sums of his own money on the race. Nate Bullock, a Thomas spokesman, said Thomas considers this a sad episode, but ultimately a personal matter for Souder to handle without politics.

“It’s inappropriate to comment at this time,” Bullock said. “We are not going to make political hay by jumping on some family’s troubles or demise.”

A spokeswoman for Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels said a special election will be held to fill the vacancy, The Associated Press reported.

Within 30 days, the precinct leaders of the counties in his district must gather to choose nominees for the special election, and GOP precinct officials would choose a candidate for the November ballot. One name being bandied about is state Sen. Marlin Stutzman, who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate earlier this month.

Souder joins a succession of congressmen embroiled in sex scandals in recent years, including Massa, and Sens. John Ensign, R-Nev., and David Vitter, R-La.

Ensign and Vitter are still serving in the Senate.

But IndianasNewsCenter.com reports that several people in the district knew about the affair as early as February. Steve Shine, Allen County Republican chair admits he knew six months ago. Surprising since Shine was a supporter of Souder’s primary opponent Bob Thomas and Thomas’ campaign never dropped this bomb.

It’s weird. But, hey, we’re still drinking champagne over here at ALO HQ. Good riddance. Apparently as our friend The Broom has noted, he ultimately did believe in self-imposed term-limits.

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