- The Washington Times - Friday, December 4, 2009

ATLANTA (AP) | Georgia’s powerful House speaker resigned Thursday after a suicide attempt and accusations by his ex-wife of an affair with a lobbyist.

Glenn Richardson, the state’s first GOP speaker since Reconstruction, had won sympathy from even his political enemies when he revealed last month that he 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.

Mr. Richardson did not address that accusation in a brief statement issued through the House communications office in which he said he would leave his position as speaker and his House seat Jan. 1. He did mention his recent admission that he has grappled with depression.

“I fear that the media attention of this week has deflected this message and done harm to many people who suffer from this condition,” he said.

The 49-year-old, once thought to be a serious contender for governor, had gone right back to shaking hands at chicken-and-grits fundraisers after trying to kill himself, but he had been silent since his ex-wife alleged this week that he slept with a lobbyist pushing a $300 million pipeline bill he was co-sponsoring.

It has been a dizzying fall for one of Georgia’s most powerful political figures. Sheriff’s deputies found him Nov. 8, slumped semiconscious on the edge of the bathtub at his west Georgia home after he called his mother to say he had swallowed pills. A suicide note and a silver .357 Magnum were on the counter next to him. The contents of the note have not been released.

Secretary of State Karen Handel, a leading candidate for governor in 2010, called Mr. Richardson’s personal turmoil “heartbreaking” but said meetings at the state Capitol were grinding to a halt because he was missing in action amid the worst state budget crunch in the state history.

“We have very serious issues that the legislature needs to deal with that require leadership and focus and it’s clear that we don’t have either right now,” Ms. Handel told the Associated Press before Mr. Richardson stepped down.

She and the Georgia Christian Coalition were among those who had called Thursday for Mr. Richardson to resign.

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