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Souder's downfall means D.C. loses congressional foe

With the resignation of Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.) from the House of Representatives, the District of Columbia loses one of Congress' most determined challengers of the city's self determination.

Souder announced his resignation Tuesday after it emerged that he had had an affair with a part-time staffer. He leaves Congress on Friday.

Local self-determination advocates will remember Souder "as one of the more outspoken people who was willing to impose his own views over the objections of the elected representatives and people of the District," says Walter Smith, executive director of D.C. Appleseed, a think tank that advocates for D.C. voting rights.

At least one city official made no attempt to disguise his glee at Souder's demise.

"Ding-dong, the witch is dead," said At-Large Council member David A. Catania (I) this afternoon. "You could almost hyperventilate explaining the hypocrisy of this man's career....I'm sorry for his wife, but I'm glad it happened to him. It couldn't have happened to a more deserving guy."

Souder joins a litany of members of Congress who took an interest in city affairs only to see their political careers succumb to other types of affairs. Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho), like Souder, pushed to overhaul city gun laws before his infamous 2007 arrest in a Minneapolis airport bathroom. More recently, Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) sponsored the pro-gun amendment that ultimately derailed a voting-rights bill months before allegations of an affair and subsequent hush-money payoffs tarnished his once-rising star.

Souder's interference in District affairs dates back at least to 2004, when he sponsored the House version of the "D.C. Personal Protection Act," a measure that would have ended the then-extant city ban on handguns and automatic weapons over the objections of local officials. That bill ended up passing the House, but it never reached the Senate floor. A similar bill passed the House in the subsequent Congress, in 2005, but again it did not get floor consideration in the upper house.

Three years later, the Supreme Court did much of what Souder and his allies had sought, striking down the handgun ban in the Heller v. D.C. decision. But the reaction of the District's elected officials to that ruling didn't go far enough for Souder. "Sadly, since the announcement of the Heller decision, we have seen the D.C. Council continue to thumb its nose at the Constitution and defy a clear Supreme Court order by largely maintaining its draconian handgun ban," he wrote in a letter to the Post in 2008. He proceeded to introduce legislation that again would remove virtually all local gun laws. Last month, Souder once again co-introduced a House bill aiming to force compliance with the Heller ruling.

Guns weren't the only D.C. issue to animate the Hoosier.

Souder also turned his attention to needle exchange. Long sought by city health officials hoping to curb the transmission of HIV and Hepatitis B, such programs had been prohibited for more than a decade due to Republican-imposed budget riders. When the Democratic House moved to remove needle-exchange restrictions in 2007, Souder offered a floor amendment to reverse the move, arguing, according to a Post story, that such programs "merely subsidize heroin use."

"When we take large sums of money from our districts that then gets used in policies in our national capital...then we do have some obligation to the taxpayers in our district and to our nation" to oversee that spending, Souder said at the time. His amendment narrowly failed, and the needle-exchange ban came off.

Catania says Souder's fate -- along with those of Craig and Ensign -- should stand as a warning: "The people who have focused on the social agenda, who have these outlandish lunatic-bent obsessions with the District, they all fall into the meat grinder....When your legislative agenda involves the inner workings of the District of Columbia, it's your jump-the-shark moment."

Says Smith, more delicately: "I hope that he is representative of a view that is passing from the scene."

UPDATE, 5:20 p.m.
Democrat Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District's delegate to Congress, says of Souder, "Nobody wants to see a member go down this way, even if he did it to himself."

Norton said she has "always enjoyed friendly relations" with Souder, but she decried what she sees as his consistently anti-District stances. "Souder has gone out of his way to look for ways to intervene into the District's affairs, to harm the District in any way he could," she says.

On the list of members most hostile to District interests, she said, Souder is "pretty near the top." In his absence, she identifies Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.), who has long fought to ban local spending on abortion and needle exchange, as the District's new bĂȘte noire.

Norton is hopeful that Souder's successor from Indiana's 3rd District will take less of an interest in their new host city. "I would not expect his replacement to follow in his footsteps," she said.

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By Mike DeBonis  |  May 18, 2010; 3:32 PM ET
Categories:  Congressional Oversight , D.C. Council , Mike DeBonis  | Tags: Congress, David Catania, Larry Craig, Mark Souder, Walter Smith  
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Councilmember Catania I agree! Whew! Just hope that the wifey checks herself out for any possible "transmission" of an STD from her husband.

Posted by: thelildiva4u | May 18, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Catania is so right on this. It seems like all the meddlers in DC business do always have something else going on and it's just before they spiral off out of control that they decide to take over the District's business.

Posted by: blankspace | May 18, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

"I sinned against God, my wife and my family by having a mutual relationship with a part time member of my staff. . . . I am so shamed to have hurt those I love."

If Rep. Mark Souder wasn't such a hypocrite one might forgive him but he had an affair with a MARRIED woman. You noticed that he didn't say he had sinned against the husband of the staff member. Republicans only sin against themselves.

Posted by: Jimof1913 | May 18, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Why does everyone describe the lady, on Souder's staff since 2004, as a "part time staffer?" Does that make the affair only half-hypocritical?

Posted by: MikeLicht | May 18, 2010 6:18 PM | Report abuse

You for got to mention the dems..I also love seeing the ex-governor of porn on MSNBC,but I guess thats what happens to ex-cheating dems,they work for the news-media

Posted by: AmericanJim1949 | May 18, 2010 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Post writers are idiots about guns. No one and I mean no one has ever advocated making "automatic weapons" be legal in DC or anywhere else in the USA. When you are this stupid, this uninformed, it calls into question the whole article.

Posted by: majiksea | May 18, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse

What in incredible hack job of an article/blog post/opinion puff piece. Instead of engaging in either an intelligent discussion of DC rights vs. federal authority or the ethical problems of Congress, DeBonis chooses to mix the two in a way that is not only uninformed, but worse, bland. Back to the minors (the City Paper) with Mr. DeBonis, please!

Posted by: GSS1 | May 18, 2010 8:02 PM | Report abuse

I would be singing, "Another One Bites the Dust!"

Posted by: unseenmirage | May 18, 2010 9:09 PM | Report abuse

Funny. Doesn't mention any Democrats that got caught up. And if the DC council was able to enact laws locally that DIDN"T conflict with the Constitution, then they wouldn't have to worry about "meddlers".

Posted by: kenayers1 | May 18, 2010 9:13 PM | Report abuse

Politicians are ALL liars and cheats regardless of their party affiliations. Especially David Catania. I wouldn't trust him in ANY situation. I think before all is said and done we will find out a whole lot about Catania. I for one will NOT be surprised at all.

Posted by: | May 18, 2010 9:50 PM | Report abuse

And Democrats are no less blameless than Republicans or Independents. All suck, especially the finger pointers out there. NONE of you have any room to talk. I'd love to have some of you investigated. ALWAYS check out the first one to point the finger, always the dirtiest!

Posted by: | May 18, 2010 9:55 PM | Report abuse

Read the fine print, my friends.....



Posted by: singleseatbiggermeat | May 18, 2010 10:06 PM | Report abuse

There are few issues that make me not want to associate with anyone, but our self-determination is one. You don't feel we get to make our own choices, you and I are probably not going to get along. And when you fall, I'll be dancing on your grave.

Posted by: ravensfan20008 | May 18, 2010 10:21 PM | Report abuse

With the demise of Souder and rapscallions like him, the principled politicians of Washington DC are once again free to pursue civic goals with honor and selfless integrity.


Posted by: jd5024 | May 18, 2010 10:59 PM | Report abuse

"Ding dong, the witch is dead!" That Catania guy gives one hell of a quote. Really speaks his mind. I'd vote for him.

Posted by: bourassa1 | May 18, 2010 11:08 PM | Report abuse

Did anyone take a look at this Souder fellow? How desperate a woman do you have to be to have an affair with that puss?

Posted by: markiejoe | May 18, 2010 11:10 PM | Report abuse

Time for the silly people who want DC political power to give up. If you want a vote, vote in the district from which you came. Otherwise suck it up as you live in a federal district.

Posted by: NUMBerger17 | May 18, 2010 11:40 PM | Report abuse

The US needs to give DC back to Maryland. DC was never supposed to be a state. MD and VA gave it to the federal government because it was an empty patch of land that wasn't so close to Philadelphia, or New York, or Baltimore, or Richmond that it didn't concentrate all of the Nations' power in any one of the cities that existed at the time.

DC was never intended to be a permanent home for anyone. When politicians and political appointees finish their terms, they went back home (home is the place they are supposed to represent, not Georgetown, Alexandria, and McLean). Lobbyist were never supposed to be here in the first place. When the Civil War ended, the refugee camp should have folded up their tents.

The seat of the federal government occupies only a small portion of this arbitrarily diamond-shaped chunk of land. Let the federal government keep that small portion and give the rest back to Maryland.

Posted by: reston75 | May 19, 2010 12:12 AM | Report abuse

D.C. At Large Councilmember David Catania has some nerve to say ding dong the witch is dead. David Catania is one evil hateful human being lacking social skills.

I will jump for joy to hear of his death. There's an old saying, when you dig one ditch, you had better dig two Miss Catania.

Posted by: Ward4DC | May 19, 2010 1:30 AM | Report abuse

D.C. At Large Councilmember David Catania has some nerve to say ding dong the witch is dead. David Catania is one evil hateful human being lacking social skills.

I will jump for joy to hear of his death. There's an old saying, when you dig one ditch, you had better dig two David Catania.

Posted by: Ward4DC | May 19, 2010 1:32 AM | Report abuse

D.C. At Large Councilmember David Catania has some nerve to say ding dong the witch is dead. David Catania is one evil hateful human being lacking social skills.

I will jump for joy to hear of his death. There's an old saying, when you dig one ditch, you had better dig two David Catania.

Posted by: Ward4DC | May 19, 2010 1:32 AM | Report abuse


Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.)

The new witch in town.
Wonder what his perversion is?

Anybody know?


Posted by: printthis | May 19, 2010 3:04 AM | Report abuse

Nice try "AmericanJim" Dems like Eliot Spitzer do not pontificate and espouse their so-called family-values while cheating, lying and whoring around with boys, men and women!


Posted by: suec716 | May 19, 2010 6:29 AM | Report abuse

Happy Dance time...another friggin hypocrit gets to leave DC and atone for his sins!!! These people who really want to be DC Mayors are all frauds...Jason are next!

Posted by: johnklenert | May 19, 2010 8:01 AM | Report abuse

souder was dishonest and a hypocrite as a congressman, so no surprize it carrried over to his private life.

good riddence.

Posted by: MarilynManson | May 19, 2010 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Those of you who think (well...) the U.S. citizens of the District paying taxes without representation, while they also serve in the nations military shouldn't have a voice in Congress are un-American and ignorant.

Posted by: jckdoors | May 19, 2010 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Isn't adultery a cardinal sin and a violation of the Ten Commandments, as well as often illegal and immoral? And repeated fornication is a repeated sin against God's rules, isn't it? Why are all the apologists attacking the columnist instead of the sinner against their faith, and the public trust violations by Souder that he crowed so loudly about. Are they apologists for adultery, cardinal sin, hypocrisy, bareback fornication and the ridicule of their silly abstinence positions? Such sickos and unworthy of their faith.

Posted by: enough3 | May 19, 2010 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Though folks like Souder, get what they deserve, I still believe that as a citizen of DC, I should be able to have a hand gun in my house. I pay taxes, I'm involved with my community and its a given right. Lets all be honest, the DC Council mentality is: "We cant have all of those black people with guns", so what if their law abiding and have never been in any type of trouble. I have to ask, if you feel that Gay Marriage is a right, why isn't having a gun a right?

Posted by: | May 19, 2010 9:41 AM | Report abuse

WARD4DEMS - Idiot the correct quote is from Confucious
Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.
You are officially a moron.

Posted by: wiseupdummy | May 19, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Pardon me WARD4DC - still a dummy though

Posted by: wiseupdummy | May 19, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

To wiseupdummy, your mammy is a dummy. You and that hateful mean spirited David Catania can kiss my grits. The day I hear of Catania's death, I will jump for joy and say good riddance to that wicked evil white witch.

Posted by: Ward4DC | May 19, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Considering how frequently politicians succumb to various ethical, financial, or moral scandals, fellow politicians should be the last ones demonstrating glee over another politician's self-inflicted wounds. David Catania had better keep his nose clean or else he may live to regret his nasty words about Mark Souder.

Posted by: austinrl | May 19, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

So, NUMBerger17, by your reasoning women and people of color should not have fought for the right to vote, either, huh? Just because something *IS* doesn't mean it's *RIGHT*.

Posted by: kbockl | May 19, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Another cheater, he would have kept on but was found out, another cheater get's caught, What goes around does come back to you one way or another, he cheated DC of their Right's by Bill's that he supported to take away out Right's, now his right's to pass bill's on DC Resident's for their Right's to be taken away,is GONE,GONE,GONE.
O Happy Day !!!

Posted by: onesugar | May 19, 2010 8:24 PM | Report abuse

To Ward4DC-
And when you go, I'll do the same.

Posted by: ravensfan20008 | May 20, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

ravensfan20008, you are an idiot. You don't know me and I'm not a public figure like Miss Catania. I guess you will defend your boyfriend. You both are a virus to society.

Posted by: Ward4DC | May 21, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

"A self-described conservative and a Christian, Souder had focused on three areas since entering Congress: in his words, "how to keep the economy strong; how do we improve our education system; and how do we change the cultural and moral direction of this country."

This paragraph in one of the side articles, sums up why so many people are disgusted with Souder. He clearly wasn't focusing on ANY of these areas. He was focusing on destroying DC and fo him to say that he is trying to figure out how to change the cultural and moral directiof this country -- while he was banging Ms. Jackson, is the apex of two-faced, self-serving hypocrisy. This is ONLY rivaled by what New Gringrich did which was to ask for a divorce from his wife while she lay dying in her bed, so he could continue to have an affair with a woman he was seeing, WHILE he was going after Bill Clinton for the Lewisky affair!

What pisses people off is the way you conservatives, just brush off your fallen party members without a care as if you are holier than thou. We do not need you and your party and George Rekers, to tell us "how to change the moral direction of this country". It's pathetic to think you all know what morality is.

Semper Fi

Posted by: gr8bigguy | May 24, 2010 7:49 AM | Report abuse

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