HIRAM, Ga. — Former House Speaker Glenn Richardson, who resigned under pressure in 2010, acknowledged in a television interview Monday that he had an affair with an Atlanta Gas Light lobbyist but that he distanced himself from legislation that she pushed at the Gold Dome.
Richardson told WXIA-TV that (http://on.11alive.com/rUC8zy) he didn’t have influence over legislation that would have approved a $300 million Atlanta Gas Light pipeline across the state. The legislation ultimately failed, but state records show he took $55,000 in lobbyist gifts from the company between 2005 and 2009.
An ethics complaint filed by Georgia Democrats in 2007 alleging he’d had an improper relationship with the lobbyist and that the company had received favorable treatment because of it wasn’t true, Richardson said. The complaint was “to try to hurt me,” he said.
“I didn’t have any influence over that legislation,” said Richardson from his home in Hiram. “The speaker pro tem carried that bill, and he had studied that matter for about a year.”
The accusations of infidelity died down for two years until Richardson’s ex-wife gave a television interview in November 2009 and accused him of having an affair. The interview came just weeks after Richardson revealed he tried to commit suicide.
Shortly after the interview, the former legislator was told by then Gov. Sonny Perdue that it was “time for me to go,”
Richardson said. Richardson said he was called to the governor’s mansion and confronted by 15 to 20 state GOP leaders, including Perdue. He said Perdue “laid his hands on me and he prayed for me.”
Richardson said Perdue and other GOP leaders told it would be the end of the party’s majority stronghold if the speaker didn’t resign. Richardson announced days later he would step down Jan. 1, 2010.
This is the first in-depth interview Richardson has given since his resignation.