Ex-Speaker Glenn Richardson on 11Alive last night

Last night, Jaye Watson with 11Alive had an eight-minute segment with former Speaker of the House Glenn Richardson and their website has a summary of the interview in which he discussed the end of his tenure as Georgia’s first Republican Speaker in the modern era.

Richardson admitted to having had an affair with a lobbyist and said, “I made a lot of foolish mistakes and I fell.”

Watson sums up the good and bad of Richardson’s tenure. “Glenn Richardson’s story is part Gree tragedy, part tabloid. He engineered a political machine that could only be stopped by one person, himself.”

“You start to believe that, perhaps, the rules aren’t meant for you,” said Richardson, “The longer I was speaker, the more pressure came on, the more stress, and then I lost my family in the divorce. The wheels started coming off.”

Richardson discusses his descent into depression and suicide attempt in the hope that

“If one person heard me say, ‘you mean to tell me a guy that could be the Speaker of the House, one of the most powerful men in Georgia, wanted to die? Wow, maybe my uncle, my brother, my cousin that I’m worried about could do the same thing.’ And here’s the answer,” Richardson said.  “Reach out to them, try to understand and love them.”

At the end of his days as Speaker, Richardson says he was called into a secret meeting at the Governor’s Mansion that included many of his closest political allies; they told him that if he stayed as Speaker, he might endanger the Republican Party in Georgia.

Finally, Richardson reviews his life as it stands today:

Things have improved for Glenn Richardson. Despite making what he says is one third the salary he used to, he is still working as an attorney. His life has returned to normal and two of his children live with him in Hiram.

“I feel good today. I still get emotional. But I’m not depressed. I’m sad. I’m upset at some of the stuff because of what I did, but it will be okay. I just live differently. I don’t get in a rush to get things done so much. I stop I look I take it in and enjoy it. Simple things. Drinking coffee out on that back deck.”

Kudos to Speaker Richardson for speaking out on this important issue, both for history’s sake, for blaming no one else, and for discussing the issues of depression and suicide.

Suicide is one of the top ten causes of death in the United States and in 2008, the last year for which I could find data, 981 Georgians took their lives. The highest rate of suicide in 2008 was in the age group from 45-54 years and is the third-leading cause of death among those aged 15-24.

Untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide.

I’ll leave the comments open for a while and see how it goes. Uncivil or appalling statements will be moderated and will lead to shutting down the comments.

9 comments

  1. Cassandra says:

    Courtesy: Queen

    “I’ve paid my dues –
    Time after time –
    I’ve done my sentence
    But committed no crime –
    And bad mistakes
    I’ve made a few
    I’ve had my share of sand kicked in my face –
    But I’ve come through”

    Redemption is especially poignant during this special time of year. If one life is spared from what Sir Winston Churchill called his ‘black dog,’ then a true gift is bestowed upon us all.

    “I don’t like standing near the edge of a platform when an express train is passing through. I like to stand right back and if possible get a pillar between me and the train. I don’t like to stand by the side of a ship and look down into the water. A second’s action would end everything. A few drops of desperation.” – Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  2. Dave Bearse says:

    Timely story at this time of year. It’s good he’s personally bouncing back.

    Anyone know the final disposition of the $100k+ in campaign contributions (beyond there transfer to an entity Richardson created to deposit the funds in)?

  3. Justin Tomczak says:

    It is rare to see someone willing to go on TV for a story like this, knowing that it will include all the dirty laundry.

    It is especially rare for a (former) politician.

    I have a lot of respect for the Speaker and appreciate this public gesture.

  4. Ed says:

    What a truly awful situation. I have nothing but the deepest sympathy for him.

    I’m also curious to see how he’s living now. I’d imagine not being in politics, for a person like him, is the worst form of hell imaginable. We had a reminder of that last week, unfortunately.

  5. Dave Bearse says:

    “At the end of his days as Speaker, Richardson says he was called into a secret meeting at the Governor’s Mansion that included many of his closest political allies; they told him that if he stayed as Speaker, he might endanger the Republican Party in Georgia.”

    The unethical circumstances? Perhaps a problem only as concerns political power.

  6. NoTeabagging says:

    Thanks Todd for a very nice, sympathetic article. I appreciate others comments wishing Mr. Richardson the best.

    • Todd Rehm says:

      Happy to do it, and thanks to our commenters for keeping it classy so far.

      I’ve suffered from depression my entire adult life and have buried two friends who committed suicide. I’m writing at greater length on the topic from my personal perspective, and from the hope to equip others who suffer or whose friends suffer, to seek help. I’ve had a couple projects heaped on me the last two days, so it may be a few days before I can get that finished.

  7. The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

    What can I say? Here’s a guy who almost literally had the political world in his hands and through a series of erratic actions and behavior, ended up nearly losing everything he had worked so hard to build, including his life.

    You almost really have to wish that Richardson had received help for his depression many years ago, long before it had gotten to the point where he attempted to take his life.

    Richardson may not have the trimmings of money, power and popularity that he had when he was Speaker, but it is by the grace of God that he is able to sit and tell his story and put out a heartfelt plea for others to help those who may be on the same track that led to his professional downfall and nearly brought about his end.

    I’m glad to see that Richardson is still alive and making it through each day in one piece and has come to put his life in perspective and is hopefully getting the help he needs to deal with his depression.

  8. saltycracker says:

    Good post. Political power is intoxicating and most cannot resist. Richardson has a great story and respect for “sobering up” while those who love him will want him as he is now.

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