From NBC's Domenico Montanaro and Mark Murray
Congressman Mark Souder announced today his resignation from Congress because of an affair.
"I wish I could have been a better example," a tearful Souder said. "I sinned against God, my wife and my family by having a mutual relationship with a part-time member of my staff."
Souder's resignation, he said, is effective Friday.
Souder has made conservative, family values part of his campaigns and legislating since he was elected in the Republican wave election of 1994. As a member of Congress, he was a leader of the Conservative Action Team in the 1990s.
According to the Almanac of American Politics, Souder said he is "most defined by the fact that I'm an evangelical Christian."
Of being an evangelical, he has said, It "isn't like it takes away all problems. It's just that you get a peace about the problems."
Souder's history of touting conservative values dates back to his days in college, according the Almanac. As an undergrad at Indiana University, he reportedly proudly wore a button that read, "I'm proud to be a square."
It's not likely his seat becomes a competitive one this fall. John McCain won the district with 56% of the vote, and Souder won a tough re-election with 55% in a state overall that Barack Obama won. But the scandal could mitigate Republicans' claim of the ethics mantle this fall.
Before becoming a congressman, Souder was a staffer for former Sen. Dan Coats, who is running for his old seat this year.
Souder was staff director for the House Select Committee on Children, Youth, and Families under then-congressman Coats. When Coats won a seat in the Senate, Souder moved with him and served as his legislative director.
"In the poisonous environment of Washington, D.C., any personal failing is seized upon, often twisted, for political gain," Souder said. "I am resigning rather than put my family through that painful, drawn-out process."
Notably in 1998, Souder called for former President Bill Clinton's resignation after the Monica Lewinsky scandal surface. But Souder was one of four Republicans to vote against impeachment. He did vote for one article of obstruction of justice.
Of the Starr Report, Souder said, "I don't think anyone in this country is comfortable with such detailed probing of someone's sex life." He said, according to another report, "I quite frankly didn't think this [the Starr report] was a slam dunk. There is a very high threshold for impeachment. In my opinion he committed perjury, but I think it's a pretty difficult case to make that there has been a pattern of abuse of power."
He also said this during a 1998 House Judiciary Committee hearing: "It's as if we're all in a Southern Baptist church service on national television, and everybody is suddenly being asked to confess every sin they ever committed in their life. And it isn't just what you've done. It's what people allege you've done."
Here's Souder's full statement:
It is with great regret I announce that I am resigning from the US House of Representatives, as well as resigning as the Republican nominee for Congress in this fall's election.
I believe it is the best decision for my family, the people of Northeast Indiana, and our country.
I will submit my resignation to Speaker Pelosi effective this Friday.
I can never fully thank all those who have worked so hard, given so much and supported me through eight contested primaries and eight general elections.
Only when you have been the recipient can you really feel the humbling power of such generosity.
It has been a privilege to be a part of the battle for freedom and the values we share.
It has been a great honor to fight for the needs, the jobs, and the future of this region where my family has lived for over 160 years.
It has been all consuming for me to do this job well, 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.
To serve has been a blessing and a responsibility given from GOD.
I wish I could have been a better example.
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 DC, 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.
Diane and my family 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.
Not only am I thankful for a loving family but for a loving God.
My comfort is that God is a gracious and forgiving God to those who sincerely seek his forgiveness as I do.
But I am so ashamed to have hurt those I love.
I am so sorry to have let so many friends down, people who have fought so hard for me.
The ideas we advocate are still just and right.
America will survive and thrive when anchored in those values.
Human beings, like me, will fail, but our cause is greater than individuals.
It is based upon eternal truths.
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 of my adult life.
I love this area.
This is my home.
It has been such an honor to serve you.
For sixteen years, my family and I have given our all for this area.
The toll has been high.
As I leave public office, my plans are focused upon repairing my marriage, earning back the trust of my family and community, and renewing my walk with my Lord.
I humble ask you, for the sake of my family that you respect our privacy in this difficult time.
I have no further comments.
NBC's Jenna Pfeffer contributed to this report.
*** UPDATED *** The post was updated now that Souder has resigned.