Friday, December 4, 2009

Georgia speaker resigns amid allegations of affair with pipeline lobbyist

ATLANTA - Glenn Richardson, Georgia’s first GOP speaker of the House since Reconstruction, resigned on Dec. 3 after a suicide attempt and amid allegations by his ex-wife that he had an affair with an Atlanta Gas Light lobbyist. The affair occurred while the Georgia House was considering legislation that allowed AGL to build a $300 million pipeline. Richardson co-sponsored the legislation, which ultimately died without being passed.
Richardson revealed in November that he had attempted suicide by swallowing sleeping pills while depressed following the divorce. But his ex-wife in November went on local TV and accused him of having "a full-out affair" with the lobbyist while they were still married, and claimed that the suicide attempt was nothing more than an attempt to gain attention and engender sympathy.
Richardson did not address those allegations in a brief statement issued through the House communications office in which he said he will leave both his position as speaker and his House seat on Jan. 1. He did mention in the statement that he had grappled with depression resulting in his suicide attempt.
"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 of his depression in the statement.
The 49-year-old Richardson, from Hiram, Ga., once thought to be a serious contender for governor, had gone back to shaking hands at chicken-and-grits fundraisers after trying to kill himself. But he had been silent since his ex-wife claimed on local television that he slept with the 34-year-old AGL lobbyist.
Sheriff's deputies found him on 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. Richardson also called his ex-wife, who he now accuses of failing to report to 911 his phone call to her during the attempted suicide.

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