United States Republican Congressman Tim Murphy who allegedly encouraged his lover to terminate a pregnancy, on Thursday announced his plan to resign from office later this month — just a day after announcing his plan to retire following the 2018 election.
The 65-year-old said, “Upon further discussion with my family, I have made the decision to resign my position,’’ Murphy, an eight-term member of the House of Representatives, serving since 2003,
The Pennsylvania Republican has now said he will resign from the House of Representatives on 21 October. His lover suggested he was a hypocrite when he allegedly proposed she seek an abortion.
House Speaker Paul Ryan confirmed he had received Mr Murphy’s letter of resignation on Thursday.
“It was Dr. Murphy’s decision to move on to the next chapter of his life, and I support it.” “We thank him for his many years of tireless work on mental health issues here in Congress and his service to the country as a naval reserve officer,” Mr Ryan said in a statement.
The Pennsylvania Republican’s about-face came after House GOP leaders and senior Republicans upped the pressure on Murphy to step down. Republican sources familiar with Murphy’s thinking said the married father of one child initially believed he could weather a story in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, revealing he had sent a series of text messages to his girlfriend — a psychologist half his age — encouraging her to have an abortion. Murphy has been a strongly anti-abortion lawmaker during his 15 years in Congress.”
Two Republican candidates announced their bids on Thursday — state Sen. Guy Reschenthaler, a former judge and Iraq War veteran, and state Sen. Kim Ward. Local operatives also named state Rep. Rick Saccone, who’s currently running for the U.S. Senate, as another potential candidate.”
GOP insiders also were worried that additional damaging stories could surface involving Murphy and his office. The Post-Gazette revealed that his staff was in turmoil for years, with the congressman yelling at aides and throwing folders.
“As I said last night, the circumstances surrounding this situation are extremely disappointing to me,” National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Steve Stivers said in a statement.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported this week that it had obtained text messages between the married congressman and his lover, forensic psychologist Shannon Edwards.
Mr Murphy admitted to the affair last month after it became public in her divorce proceedings.
The couple’s text message exchanges reported by the U.S. media showed Murphy had asked the woman to abort their unborn child.
It came as a devastating political blow as Murphy had been an active advocate of anti-abortion laws.
A text reply reportedly sent from Mr Murphy’s mobile phone maintained it was his staff who were behind the anti-abortion rhetoric, not him.
“I get what you say about my March for life messages,” he wrote.
“I’ve never written them. Staff does them. I read them and winced. I told staff don’t write any more. I will.”
It turned out the pregnancy scare was unfounded, reports the Post-Gazette.
On Tuesday, the congressman voted in favour of a Republican bill that would criminalise abortions performed after 20 weeks of foetal development.
Mr Murphy, a member of the House of Representatives Pro-Life Caucus who is in his eighth term, was a co-sponsor of the bill.
“I’ve never written them, staffers do them, I read them and winced.
“I told staff not to write anymore,’’ Murphy said of the anti-abortion statements released in his name after the woman complained of his inconsistent stance.
Murphy’s departure from Congress is expected to set off a scramble to replace him in what is a safe GOP seat. Democrats signaled that they have very low expectations of making a competitive run there.
“Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District is a reliable Republican stronghold, but the grass-roots energy behind Democrats has proven powerful this year, and we will be closely tracking this district and special election,” said Meredith Kelly, communications director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
In Pennsylvania special elections, the state central committees for both parties select primary nominees, rather than through a primary vote.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, will set the special general election date, which some political operatives believe will occur on the same day as the regular primary date next May.
“I’d assume the governor would put it on primary election day of next year,” said Mark Harris, a Republican consultant in the state. “If that’s the case, there would be two ballots — a special election ballot and a primary ballot. In theory, a candidate could win the special election and another candidate could win the primary.”