“Family Man. Businessman. United States Marine.”

That’s how Rep. Van Taylor, a Texas Republican running for a third term in Congress, describes himself on his campaign website. But on Wednesday afternoon, Taylor confessed to a nine-month-long extramarital affair with a former jihadist who was spirited off to Syria by her late husband in 2013, earning her the nickname the “ISIS bride.”

“About a year ago, I made a horrible mistake that has caused deep hurt and pain among those I love most in this world,” Taylor, a father of three girls, wrote in an email to supporters after news broke of his relationship with Tania Joya, whose first husband, a Texan named John Georgelas, converted to Islam and fought for the Islamic State under the nom de guerre Yahya Abu Hassan.

“I had an affair, it was wrong, and it was the greatest failure of my life,” Taylor’s email continued, notifying his constituents that he would be abandoning his re-election bid. “I want to apologize for the pain I have caused with my indiscretion, most of all to my wife Anne and our three daughters. For months, Anne and I have been working to repair the scars left by my actions. I am unworthy, but eternally thankful for her love and forgiveness.”

Taylor, an NRA-backed conservative, is one of just four Texas Republicans who rejected Donald Trump’s so-called big lie, in which he continues to falsely claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him. With the first reports of his affair coming out about 36 hours before the polls opened, he fell just short of the 50 percent threshold to avoid a runoff in Tuesday’s primary, with 49 percent of the vote. His decision to withdraw leaves second-place finisher Keith Self, a former Collin County judge, as the GOP’s presumptive candidate in the deeply red district for November’s general election against Democrat Sandeep Srivastava.

The shake-up came days after a third Republican candidate, Suzanne Harp, a banker endorsed by Trump and who defined her mission as “Defending Texas from the radical left and RINO Republicans,” helped expose the affair, according to Joya.

Joya says she got in touch with Harp last Thursday, after becoming tired of seeing Taylor’s campaign billboards around town.

“All I wanted was for Suzanne Harp to just say, ‘Hey, I know your little scandal with Tania Joya. Would you like to resign before we embarrass you?’” Joya told The Dallas Morning News. “But it didn’t happen like that.”

Instead, Harp sent a supporter to meet with Joya, who bared her soul in a 35-minute recorded interview posted online Sunday night by National File, a far-right news site accused by traditional media outlets of frequently publishing specious claims. Joya shared text messages with the outlet that Taylor had sent during their relationship, including one that read, “I want a long slow rim job while I have a drink—then for you to deep throat me while you stroke my cock and I cum on your tonsils.”

Taylor, Joya and Harp, who finished third in the primary, did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Daily Beast on Wednesday.

Joya and Taylor first met through an anti-extremism program that Joya was working on after returning from Syria and deciding to help “reprogram” people susceptible to radicalization. Joya said she told Taylor that she found him attractive, and the two exchanged phone numbers.

Joya and Taylor soon became physically intimate, she told National File. Taylor knew Joya was struggling financially, and offered to purchase her home for $600,000, according to the outlet. He also reportedly helped Joya to draw up a business plan for a fitness studio she hoped to open. In an interview with far-right news outlet Breitbart published on Monday, Joya said Taylor paid her $5,000 last June in exchange for keeping quiet about their affair.In an interview with The Dallas Morning News, Harp called news of the relationship between Taylor and Joya “shocking.”

“Suzanne considers her most significant accomplishment raising and homeschooling her four children in Judeo Christian values with her husband, Bill, of 27 years,” according to Harp’s campaign website. “They carefully raised the four kids to cultivate a relationship with the Lord by studying God’s Word alongside the great philosophers to developing a Biblical Worldview, a deep understanding of the Constitution, and the blessings of being an American.”

Taylor earned his undergraduate degree at Harvard, then joined the U.S. Marine Corps. He went on to earn an MBA from Harvard while serving in the Marine Corps Reserve, then launched a career in real estate finance. During his time in the Corps, which included a deployment to Iraq, Taylor said he earned the Combat Action Ribbon, Presidential Unit Citation, and the Navy Commendation Medal with “V” for valor.

It is unknown if Taylor plans to serve out the remainder of his term, which ends in January 2023.



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