Update 4:39 p.m. It’s official. The statement from Richardson follows. Key points are that he is resigning effective the first of the year and that he is, in addition to stepping down as speaker, also resigning his House seat rather than stay on as a legislator.
It’s also worth noting that Richardson accepts no blame for what has happened and admits no wrongdoing. He also doesn”t reference his ex-wife or her devastating television interview. He does, however, take a shot at the media.
Here’s the statement:
“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.”
Update 3:15 p.m. Glenn Richardson will resign today at 4 p.m. during a conference call with House Republicans, sources close to the situation have said.
More to come on AJC.com
WSB-TV reported the resignation would be effective Dec. 31, but that could not immediately be confirmed.
Update 3:02 p.m.: Breaking news: House Republicans will have a conference call today at 4 p.m. It is not immediately clear if Glenn Richardson will be on the call or if it’s everyone BUT the speaker.
One House Republican said the message about the conference call was not clear. But what is clear, this lawmaker said, is “either it’s his resignation, or it’s the opening shot to his total, complete obliteration.”
If it’s not Richardson resigning, the lawmaker said, there will be a stream of legislators headed for the Capitol on Friday to sign the petition calling for his ouster. It only takes 20 signatures on the petition to force a vote of the GOP caucus to remove him.
Update 2:00 p.m.: Will he or won’t he? Since Richardson has yet to actually resign and there’s little but rumor out there right now, seems like a good time for a new poll! We’ve answered whether Richardson SHOULD resign, and of 621 votes, 90 percent said “yes.” Now, let’s see whether you believe he WILL resign. Vote early and often.
Update 12:31 p.m.: The new head of the Georgia Christian Coalition has weighed in on the issue and said Richardson either needs to “effectively refute allegations of misconduct as a House member or resign his leadership post.”
Jerry Luquire, president of the GCC, also said those in top leadership positions now might not be the best choice to replace Richardson.
“The leadership team that has been willing to turn a blind eye to the speaker’s behavior and enabled him must take a share of the blame for this situation,” he said. “While these problems may be new to the public, the issues were well known. As the new speaker, I would like to see a person who was not afraid to challenge the status quo. We need the adults to start running the people’s House.”
Earlier this week, Sadie Fields, the head of the Georgia Christian Alliance, said “perhaps it is time for members of the House to re-evaluate the qualities they have a right to expect from their leader.”
Update 12:01 p.m.: State Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine has stopped short of calling for Richardson’s resignation.
“I call on all Georgians of faith to pray for wisdom and grace for our state leaders in this hour of difficulty,” Oxendine, a 2010 Republican candidate for governor, said in a statement. “No Georgia House members need nor require candidates exploiting this issue for political gain. I have confidence the majority caucus and the House as an institution will deal with this current situation.”
Oxendine’s statement would seem to refer to the call from earlier today by Karen Handel, one of his primary opponents in the race for governor, for Richardson to resign. Rep. Austin Scott, another GOP gubernatorial challenger, also today said he and the rest of the GOP caucus would act if Richardson doesn’t.
Asked for clarification on Oxendine’s statement, his campaign strategist Jeff Breedlove said that Oxendine “is saying that this is a matter for the House and that these Georgia leaders are the appropriate people to comment and that candidates do not help Georgia by attempting to exploit the matter.”
Update: 11:08 a.m.: The rumor mills are heating up again. While it’s accepted as fact at this point that Richardson will be resigning, the timing is still in question. At some point, as Rep. Austin Scott points out below, House members will lose patience and try and take action themselves.
But beyond the issue of Richardson leaving is the question of who takes over. Mark Burkhalter, the speaker pro tem, would assume the title immediately, but House rules require there to then be a new election for speaker within 120 days.
There are some members of the House GOP caucus who do not appreciate the idea that a select few of the top Republicans are trying to map out this process on their own, without consulting the group. If they feel that the fix is in, several House members have said they’ll seek an alternative to the chosen one.
A few names have been floated, but none have been confirmed. We won’t name them here now, because if they’re wrong those named could face reprisals and that’s not fair.
Update 9:41 a.m.: Republican Secretary of State Karen Handel said Thursday that Glenn Richardson should resign.
“It is clear that the speaker should resign immediately for the good of our state and our citizens.”
Handel, a 2010 GOP candidate for governor, said while public officials are entitled to privacy, they are also held to a higher standard of scrutiny and responsibility.
“This current situation needs to be dealt with swiftly, so that we can begin the process of restoring confidence among Georgians and return our focus to the critical issues facing our state,” she said.
A prominent House Republican on Thursday said “there will be new leadership shortly” in the House of Representatives.
Governmental Affairs Committee chairman Austin Scott (R-Tifton), a 2010 candidate for governor, said Thursday that House Speaker Glenn Richardson (R-Hiram) needs to act or Republicans will act for him.
“I know the (House Republican) caucus is going to do the right thing and there will be new leadership shortly,” Scott told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Thursday.
Meanwhile, a top House Democrat on Thursday said Richardson needs to resign now.
Speculation that Richardson would resign has intensified since his ex-wife, Susan, blistered Richardson in an interview with an Atlanta television station.
Susan Richardson told WAGA that before their divorce her husband had an affair with an Atlanta Gas Light lobbyist while the speaker was pushing legislation that would benefit the utility and that he threatened to beat her up.
If 20 Republican House members sign a petition and deliver it to the House clerk, a vote must be held of the Republican caucus. If a majority of the caucus votes to oust Richardson as speaker, he’s done and Speaker Pro Tem Mark Burkhalter (R-Johns Creek) would become speaker. Richardson would not, however, lose his House seat.
Richardson, Gov. Sonny Perdue, Burkhalter and Majority Leader Jerry Keen (R-St. Simon’s Island) met at the Governor’s Mansion late Wednesday evening. Sources close to the situation have said the meeting was intended to map out a plan for Richardson to resign. But Scott and others have indicated that if Richardson doesn’t act soon, his colleagues will act for him.
State law allows for members of the majority party in the House to force the resignation of the speaker for physical or mental disability. Richardson has said he suffers from depression and that he tried to kill himself on Nov. 8.
Also Thursday, Rep. Rob Teilhet (D-Smyrna), the Democrats’ chief deputy whip, said House Speaker Glenn Richardson can’t “credibly continue as speaker.”
Teilhet, a candidate for attorney general in 2010, said Richardson needs to resign.
“In light of the disclosure of threats of violence against his ex-wife and threats to use his official position to punish people for personal reasons, I do not believe he should continue to serve in a position of public trust,” Teilhet told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Susan Richardson said her ex-husband threatened to beat her up and to have the state patrol and GBI track her down after she left town for a weekend away with a new boyfriend.
According to e-mails Susan Richardson says she has, the AGL lobbyist feared she would be fired if her affair with Glenn Richardson became public. Richardson said he would “bring all hell” down on AGL would that happen.
Teilhet also said this saga should be the impetus for new ethics reform in the General Assembly.
“If the speaker leaves office, but we do not address the underlying culture of corruption that has allowed this to happen, we’ll do the people of Georgia a grave disservice,” Teilhet said.
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