Rep. Murphy Quits Congress, More Staffers Complain Sending Him Packing

U.S. Congressman Tim Murphy in August 2017. (Nate Guidry/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS)

(10-5-17) I had just finished giving a speech in Colorado and was driving through the Rockies when this story broke. I don’t like re-posting news stories but given Rep. Murphy’s high profile in the mental health community, here’s the latest from Politico. 

Tim Murphy resigns from Congress

The anti-abortion Republican was embroiled in scandal after reportedly encouraging a woman he was romantically involved with to terminate a pregnancy.

Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), the embattled anti-abortion lawmaker who allegedly encouraged his lover to terminate a pregnancy, on Thursday announced his plan to resign from office later this month — just a day after announcing his plan to retire following the 2018 election.

The Pennsylvania Republican’s about-face came after House GOP leaders and senior Republicans upped the pressure on Murphy to step down. Republican sources familiar with Murphy’s thinking said the married father of one child initially believed he could weather a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story revealing he had sent a series of text messages to his girlfriend — a psychologist half his age — encouraging her to have an abortion. Murphy had been a strongly anti-abortion lawmaker during his 15 years in Congress.

“This afternoon I received a letter of resignation from Congressman Tim Murphy, effective October 21,” Speaker Paul Ryan said in a statement. “It was Dr. Murphy’s decision to move on to the next chapter of his life, and I support it.”

But many senior Republicans did not believe Murphy could — or should — survive until the end of his term. Several top Republicans said Ryan, who met with Murphy Wednesday evening to discuss his future, also wanted him to step down.

GOP insiders were also worried additional damaging stories could surface on Murphy and his office. The Post-Gazette revealed that his staff was in turmoil for years, with the congressman yelling at aides and throwing folders.

“As I said last night, the circumstances surrounding this situation are extremely disappointing to me,” National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Steve Stivers (Ohio) said in a statement.

But Stivers predicted that Republicans would easily hold Murphy’s district, despite the scandal that destroyed the GOP lawmaker’s career.


“The NRCC is undefeated in special elections this year and I’m supremely confident that will continue,” he said. “In the meantime, we look forward to seeing how national Democrats can spin yet another special election loss into a so-called ‘moral victory’.”

Five former Murphy employees contacted POLITICO to share stories of inappropriate behavior by both Murphy and his chief of staff Susan Mosychuk. Those included tales of staff being berated as “worthless” and “stupid.” Others told of being forced by Mosychuk to take the stairs instead of the elevators as punishments for underperforming.

Republicans believed the matter could become an ethics issue that would trigger an investigation and distract from GOP messaging. With Murphy set to resign in two weeks, any ethics probe would end as soon as he left office.

Throughout Wednesday, Murphy held a series of private meetings with other GOP lawmakers as he sought to save his career. Pennsylvania GOP Reps. Charlie Dent and Bill Shuster huddled with Murphy in his office on Wednesday afternoon, but would not discuss what was said following the private session.

By Thursday morning, Murphy began to understand those complications and had drafted a resignation letter.

Murphy’s departure from Congress is expected to set off a scramble to replace him in what is a safe GOP seat. Democrats signaled that they have very low expectations of making a competitive run there.

“Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District is a reliable Republican stronghold, but the grassroots energy behind Democrats has proven powerful this year, and we will be closely tracking this district and special election,” said Meredith Kelly, communications director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

In Pennsylvania special elections, the state central committees for both parties select primary nominees, rather than through a primary vote.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, will set the special general election date, which some political operatives believe will occur on the same day as the regular primary date next May.

“I’d assume the governor would put it on primary election day of next year,” said Mark Harris, a Republican consultant in the state. “If that’s the case, there would be two ballots — a special election ballot and a primary ballot. In theory, a candidate could win the special election and another candidate could win the primary.”

Two Republican candidates announced their bids on Thursday — state Sen. Guy Reschenthaler, a former judge and Iraq War veteran, and state Sen. Kim Ward. Local operatives also named state Rep. Rick Saccone, who’s currently running for the U.S. Senate, as another potential candidate.

Three Democrats were already vying to take on Murphy before he resigned, including Pam Iovino, a veteran who picked up an endorsement from VoteVets on Wednesday. But Democratic operatives said they expect more candidates to jump in, naming Matt Smith, president of the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce, state Rep. Dan Miller and Westmoreland County Commissioner Ted Kopas.

John Bresnahan and Elena Schneider contributed to this report.

About the author:

Pete Earley is the bestselling author of such books as The Hot House and Crazy. When he is not spending time with his family, he tours the globe advocating for mental health reform.

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