ATLANTA (AP) -- Georgia's powerful House speaker has resigned
after a suicide attempt and allegations by his ex-wife of an affair with a lobbyist.
Speaker Glenn Richardson says in a statement issued Thursday by the House communications office that his resignation takes effect Jan. 1.
He had won sympathy from even his political enemies when he
revealed last month that he had attempted suicide by swallowing sleeping pills. But then his ex-wife went on TV and accused him of having "a full-out affair" with a lobbyist while they were still married.
The 49-year-old was once thought to be a serious contender for
governor. He had been silent since his ex-wife claimed this week
that he slept with a lobbyist pushing a $300 million pipeline bill
he was co-sponsoring.
Richardson issued a statement Thursday afternoon:
"Effective January 1, 2010, I will resign my position as Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives and as state Representative for the 19th District in Paulding County.
It has been an honor to serve the citizens of Paulding County as their Representative for 14 years and as Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives for the last five years. During this time, I have appreciated working with the members of the House and the people of Georgia to keep state government efficient and ensure a low tax burden for our fellow Georgians.
As Speaker, I have been well served by the entire staff of the House of Representatives, especially the staff in the Speaker's Office. To each of them I offer my profound thanks for their tireless efforts. And to my many friends and supporters throughout the state, thank you for standing by me even in the most difficult times. My service would not have been possible without you.
I am confident that House Leadership will continue to lead the House and its members as they serve all Georgians to the best of their abilities.
I recently made public that I have suffered from depression for many years. I continue to seek treatment and have made progress in dealing with this disease. In making this public disclosure, it was my hope to raise awareness and encourage others who suffer from this disease to come forward and seek treatment. I fear that the media attention of this week has deflected this message and done harm to many people who suffer from this condition.
I am thankful for the opportunities my service afforded me to make Georgia's future brighter. Though I will no longer be serving in elected office, my commitment to see a better tomorrow for our state remains. As always, I am confident that Georgia's best days are still ahead."
Georgia Republican Party Chairman Sue Everhart released the following statement:
"Glenn Richardson made the right decision today. He and Speaker Pro Tem Mark Burkhalter will smoothly transition power to ensure the General Assembly is best prepared to face the upcoming session. Georgia Republicans will continue efforts to solve the problems facing our citizens, and I hope Glenn and his family will have the opportunity to heal."
Burkhalter issued a statement of his own late Thursday:
"It's time to thank Glenn Richardson for his five years of service as Speaker. All of Georgia wishes the Speaker well including good health and good fortune.
"Glenn Richardson was the right Speaker for the right era, a time when Republicans took the Majority after 134 years in the Minority.
"I certainly understand the gravity of this situation and my responsibilities. I am committed to getting the Georgia House through this transition and beyond.
"Some things we just can't predict or plan for, and this happens to be one of them. But I am certainly committed to and excited about the opportunities ahead and continuing to work with a talented group of lawmakers.
"This is a chance for both sides of the aisle to come together.
11 Alive talked to a senior House member who was on the conference call with Richardson. He tells 11 Alive that Richardson "bared his soul. It was remarkable all he told us about his depression, his suicide attempt, his affair and his family."
The house member also said that Richardson accused his ex wife of not calling 911 when she heard he had just attempted suicide. 11 Alive called Susan Richardson for her response. The call was not returned.
The house member also said "There is a sense of relief in the caucus now. We were prepared to take action."
The day began with Secretary of State Karen Handel demanding that Richardson resign immediately, saying he would be a distraction in the upcoming legislative session. Handel the first Republican lawmaker to publicly call for Richardson's resignation, is running for Governor next year. Handel said her campaign had nothing to do with her decision to ask Richardson to resign. Handel said Richardson's resignation would be in the best interest of the citizens of Georgia.