U.S. Rep. Van Taylor (R-Plano) dropped his re-election bid after Republican candidate Suzanne Harp leaked news of his affair with Plano resident Tania Joya, the former wife of the deceased ISIS leader John Georgelas.

Joya contacted Harp last Thursday, hoping for Harp to persuade Van Taylor to resign from the re-election. Harp sent a supporter to interview Joya, who leaked the quotes to conservatives news outlets National File and Breitbart News.

In Breitbart’s story, Joya said that Van Taylor paid her $5,000 to ensure her silence. The publication reported that Joya provided a bank record and a screenshot of her communication with Van Taylor as evidence. The Texas Tribune has not yet been able to verify these claims. 

Breitbart’s coverage should be approached with some skepticism. Van Taylor supports the NRA, Heritage and other conservative groups, but he was also one of five Texas Republicans who voted to certify Pres. Joe Biden’s 2020 election. So heavily conservative publications had a stake in diminishing his re-election prospects.

Van Taylor announced that he would be resigning the morning of Mar. 2, hours after coming out of the five-way primary with 49% of the vote. He has until Mar. 16 to remove his name from the runoff ballot, after which Collin County Judge Keith Self will automatically take his spot as the Republican nominee.

Taylor’s campaign website prominently shows wedding photos and video of him with his wife, Anne, walking hand in hand. The words “Family Man” are emblazoned on the website’s home page under the sunny video.

“I have let down so many other family members, friends, colleagues, supporters, and the people of the 3rd Congressional District whom I have had the great honor and privilege to represent. I am truly sorry, and I hope in time I can earn their forgiveness,” Taylor said in a public resignation letter to his supporters.

Vaibhavi Hemasundar

Vaibhavi Hemasundar is an undergraduate at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She loves singing, film photography, and devouring book after book.