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Tim Murphy resigns after pressure mounts following texts on abortion

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette logo Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 10/5/2017 By Chris Potter / Pittsburgh Post-Gazertte

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Rep. Tim Murphy announced Thursday that he was resigning, a day after he said he would not run for re-election.

The Republican congressman from the 18th District faced a storm of criticism after reports that he urged the woman with whom he was having an extra-marital relationship to get an abortion. Mr. Murphy, 65, has long been staunchly pro-life.

statement from U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan says:  “This afternoon I received a letter of resignation from Congressman Tim Murphy, effective Oct. 21. 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.”

Under state law, Gov. Tom Wolf must send a writ of election to each county in the district within 10 days of the vacancy, setting a special election date at least 60 days in the future.

Mr. Murphy’s troubles started four weeks ago after the congressman admitted to an extramarital affair with a psychologist he grew close to when she took on an activist role to help pass his bill to increased treatment availability for people with severe mental illness.

Mr. Murphy, who is married and has an adult daughter, admitted to the affair after the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette prevailed in a court motion to unseal a divorce case for which he was being deposed.

Mr. Murphy, 65, is not a party to the divorce but the husband in the case, sports medicine physician Jesse Sally, sought his deposition in July as part of his divorce from Shannon Edwards, who has acknowledged a six-month affair with the congressman last year.

Congressman Tim Murphy © Rebecca Droke/Post-Gazette Congressman Tim Murphy Ms. Edwards, 32, has a doctoral degree and as part of her work evaluates defendants in criminal and child custody cases.

Mr. Murphy also is trained as a psychologist and has published books about children and anger. He served as a psychologist in the Navy Reserve until he retired in September.

Mr. Murphy was first elected to Congress in 2002, after serving in Pennsylvania’s state Senate. His signature legislative achievement in Washington was the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, to which he devoted much of his 15 years in Congress. Said to be the most sweeping change in mental health policy in decades, his legislation was incorporated into the 21st Century Cures Act, which became law last year.

“The bill provided important help to the seriously mentally ill and attempts to focus federal agencies on the seriously ill,” said. DJ Jaffe, executive director of Mental Illness Policy Org. “It would not have passed without heroic efforts by Rep. Murphy and he should be proud of this accomplishment.”

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan lauded the measure as a “landmark mental health reform” on Tuesday, just hours before news of Mr. Murphy’s text exchanges with Ms. Edwards came to light.

Mr. Murphy has also recently become involved in an investigation into the distribution of opioids by drug wholesalers. He had been helping to oversee the probe in his role as chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Mr. Murphy also is chairman of the Congressional Steel Caucus, an informal group of lawmakers from steel-producing states.

A reliable party stalwart who blended labor-friendly positions on manufacturing with expertise in health, Mr. Murphy sailed through elections — often without a challenger — in a district that includes affluent suburbs with rural and white working-class communities.

But he hasn’t always been a favorite among his Republican colleagues in Washington, some of whom snubbed him in 2012 when they endorsed his primary challenger Evan Feinberg. Mr. Murphy defeated him by a margin of nearly two-to-one and went on to win the general election by nearly the same margin.

Mr. Murphy had faced controversy before. In 2006, he fired a staffer, Jayne O'Shaughnessy, who'd previously told the Post-Gazette that he improperly used Congressional staff for campaign work. Ms. O'Shaughnessy said she was terminated — in an email from Ms. Mosychuk — 10 days after that story appeared. Mr. Murphy's office, she told the Post-Gazette, was a "hostile environment."

"If any little thing happened, if one little piece of information was missing from one part of his homework which wasn't even worth talking about, he would just flip out," she told the paper at the time.


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