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Pence: Souder told me about his affair, I reported to ethics committee

Here's an interesting wrinkle in the saga of Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.), whose pending resignation after an affair with a staffer is sort of being lost in the news cycle. At a short news conference Wednesday (on a subject I'm writing up next), Luke Russert of NBC News asked Mike Pence (R-Ind.) when he learned about Souder's affair.

"I was approached by a journalist I think Wednesday of last week who asked if I had heard anything about my colleague," said Pence. "I indicated that I hadn't. But I did approach Mr. Souder on Thursday on the House floor to inform him of that inquiry, and it was at that point that he shared the fact that he had been involved in an extramarital affair. It's a deeply saddening event. Congressman Souder's circumstance is a family tragedy, but he also betrayed the public trust. He did the right thing by resigning from Congress."

Wednesday was May 12; Souder did not announce his resignation until May 18. That's a rather long gap when you consider that Republicans have kept up pressure on Democrats for not acting more quickly on rumors and reports of former Rep. Eric Massa's (D-N.Y.) sexual harassment of staffers.

UPDATE: Pence's staff emails this statement:

“In response to a general media inquiry, Mr. Pence confronted Mr. Souder on Thursday. Mr. Souder confessed to an affair, but did not mention that it was with a part-time staff member. It was not until Sunday evening that Mr. Souder called Mr. Pence to inform him that the affair was with a part-time staff member. Mr. Pence encouraged Mr. Souder to resign immediately and notified ethics on Monday.”

So Pence reported the scandal as soon as he got the full details; Souder resigned the next day.

By David Weigel  |  May 19, 2010; 3:50 PM ET
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