NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Republican Senator Paul Stanley of Memphis has resigned following an alleged extortion plot that revealed an affair he had with a 22-year-old legislative intern.
In a letter to Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey dated Tuesday, July 28, the senator said, "Due to recent events, I have decided to focus my full attention on my family and resign my Senate seat effective August 10, 2009."
Senator Stanley told the lieutenant governor "it has been an honor to serve with you in the state Senate in the 105th and 106th General Assemblies."
Lt. Gov. Ramsey acknowledged the resignation in a statement sent to News 2.
"Senator Paul Stanley has resigned from the State Senate effective August 10th. I have received his letter of resignation and forwarded it to Secretary of State Hargett and Governor Bredesen," the statement said.
State Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris was among Stanley's Republican colleagues who called on the senator to resign after the public learned of the affair last week.
Norris, whose suburban Memphis Senate district neighbors Stanley's, said earlier Tuesday it would be the "right thing for him to do."
Stanley said he had planned to fight through the controversy and serve out his term, but a conversation with his wife changed that.
"Based on some things that were going on today, just decided the best thing to do for my family was for me to resign," Stanley said Tuesday.
After submitting his resignation letter, Stanley spoke on Memphis radio station WREC, asking for forgiveness.
He said, "We've been dealing with this for a long time as a private family matter. When it did go public, obviously, it creates a lot of stress on a family, and so the first thing I had to do is ask for God's forgiveness and the forgiveness of my family, but I also want to ask forgiveness of the constituency that I served."
Court records show the 47-year-old married father of two told agents investigating a blackmail case that he had a sexual relationship with McKensie Morrison, a student at Austin Peay State University.
Morrison's boyfriend, Joel Watts, is charged with trying to extort $10,000 from Stanley in exchange for explicit pictures of her that "appeared to be taken in Stanley's apartment."
Stanley stepped down from his position as chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee last week.
To replace Stanley, a successor will be appointed by Shelby County commissioners in his home district.
A special election will then be held to determine a permanent replacement to serve out Stanley's remaining term.
In a statement, the Tennessee Republican Party said, "This was an unfortunate situation for all involved and hopefully something has been learned from this. Considering the circumstances, Paul determined the right thing for his family and his constituents was to resign, and we support him in that decision."
Leaders of the Tennesse Senate Democratic Caucus also repsonded to the situation in a statement to News 2.
It said, "We are sorry that the good work of the legislature has been overshadowed by this tragedy... We hate that it has happened to this family with young children, who continue to be in our prayers."