Texas GOP Congressman Drops Re-Election Bid After Alleged Affair With ‘ISIS Bride’
Rep. Van Taylor, R-Texas, pays respects as former Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., lies in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on Thursday, December 9, 2021.
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Congressman Van Taylor (R-TX) announced on Wednesday that he will be dropping out of his bid for re-election due to the “deep pain” he caused his wife and daughters after he had an affair sometime last year.

While Taylor did not name the individual with whom he had an affair, his announcement comes just days after a woman named Tania Joya – an apparent widow of an American turned soldier of the Islamic State — accused the congressman of having improper relations with her while married, including paying her money to keep it quiet.

Taylor received 49% of the vote in the GOP primary for Texas’ third congressional district on Tuesday, but was set to face a run-off election against opponent, former Collin County Judge Keith Self.

The Dallas Morning News reported that Joya — who has been nicknamed the ISIS Bride by some media outlets – went to GOP congressional candidate Suzanne Harp last week with the allegation in hopes that she could chat with Taylor privately and convince him to drop out of the race and resign from Congress.

But, Harp didn’t meet with her and instead sent a supporter who interviewed Joya, recorded the conversation, and gave it to a website, which then published it, the Dallas Morning News noted:

On Sunday afternoon, two days before the primary, a rightwing website, National File, posted audio of that 35-minute interview full of salacious details about the nine-month affair. The next day, the conservative site Breitbart posted a similar story that it labeled “exclusive.”

In 2013, Joya’s husband moved the family to Syria from London and joined ISIS. Shortly after, she escaped and eventually moved her family to live with her in-laws in Plano, Texas. In 2017, it was reported that her husband had been killed in a bomb blast by U.S. forces.

According to the Dallas Morning News, Joya claimed she met Taylor “through her work as an ex-jihadist helping to reprogram extremists, and the affair lasted from October 2020 to June 2021.”

On Monday, Harp described Taylor’s alleged behavior as “shocking … disturbing and unbecoming of a sitting U.S. Representative,” and warned that it would be “dangerous to have compromised and corrupt representation in Washington.”

For his part, Taylor took full responsibility for his philandering but did not state if Joya was his mistress.

Taylor has until March 16 to resign via writing submitted to the Texas state GOP chair. If he does that, Self would be the GOP nominee for the district.

Taylor sent the following letter to his supporters explaining his exit from the race, according to CBS Dallas-Forth Worth:


Today I am announcing I will not continue my campaign to seek re-election to Congress.

About a year ago, I made a horrible mistake that has caused deep hurt and pain among those I love most in this world. I had an affair, it was wrong, and it was the greatest failure of my life.

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. Now, over the last few days I have started those same conversations with my three daughters who are the light of my life and deserve so much better.

I know the hurt does not stop there. 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.

I appreciate your understanding that this is a personal matter between me and my family.

I have talked with Keith Self to let him know of my decision, and I wish him the best as he seeks to become the next congressman for this district.

Van Taylor

Taylor notably did not receive former President Donald J. Trump’s endorsement after he voted to certify the 2020 election.

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