- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 1, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS — Rep. Dan Burton, the Indiana Republican whose ardent investigations of Bill Clinton in the 1990s lifted his national profile, announced Tuesday that he is ending a three-decade career in the U.S. House because of an undisclosed family health concern.

Speaking before the Indiana House, where he began his career in elected office, Mr. Burton said he will not run again when his term ends this year. He prevailed in tough Republican primary battles the past two elections and was expected to face another this year, but he told reporters before the speech that is not the reason for his retirement.

“I don’t want to get into it, it’s about personal problems with family health,” he said.

Mr. Burton, 73, who was elected to his 15th term in November 2010, pursued Mr. Clinton through the 1990s as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. In 1994, he told House colleagues that he shot a watermelon with his rifle as part of a bizarre re-enactment of the death of Clinton aide Vince Foster, which was ruled a suicide but Mr. Burton wanted it investigated as a possible murder.

As he grilled the former president about his infidelity during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Mr. Burton was forced to admit to an extramarital affair of his own when it was discovered he had a child out of wedlock.

Mr. Burton held the oversight committee gavel until 2003 when he stepped down from the chairmanship because of House Republicans’ six-year term limit on running committees.

After his speech at the Indiana Statehouse, he was asked about the lapel pin he wore for the occasion. He said it was Don Quixote, a role model for him as he tilted at the occasional windmill during his long career.

“All my life, I wanted to fight for the impossible dream,” he said.

Indiana Republicans redrew his congressional district last year to remove some of his strongest bases of support, though it remains heavily Republican. The new 5th District includes all of Hamilton County and the north side of Indianapolis, but it lost some rural counties closer to Fort Wayne that Mr. Burton carried on his way to winning the 2008 and 2010 primaries - the latter with just 30 percent of the vote in a seven-candidate field.

Meanwhile, a strong crop of contenders led by former federal prosecutor Susan Brooks and former Rep. David McIntosh has been running hard against Mr. Burton in the Republican primary race.

Mr. Burton said Tuesday he did not have any plans to endorse a successor.

Former state Rep. Mike Murphy, who was among the 2010 challengers to Mr. Burton, said the greater concentration of the district in the northern suburbs of Indianapolis put Mr. Burton at a disadvantage because he had lost that area to other candidates in the 2008 and 2010 primaries.

“The more outrageous things he did, the more that core seemed to say ‘Go get ‘em Dan‘ and a lot of that core was in the northern part of that district,” said Mr. Murphy, a former Marion County Republican chairman.