Texas congressman ends reelection bid over affair with former ‘ISIS bride’

Woman claims he paid her $5,000 in hush money for the affair that lasted from November 2020 to June 2021.

Updated: March 2, 2022 - 10:55pm

Texas Republican Rep. Van Taylor on Wednesday announced he will no longer be seeking reelection after he admitted to an affair with a former so-called "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. I had an affair, it was wrong, and it was the greatest failure of my life," he admitted in an email obtained by The Dallas Morning News.

Taylor, who is married with three children, came out ahead during Texas' March 1 primary with 48.7%, but because he did not win the majority of votes, he would have proceeded to the May runoff against former Collin County Judge Keith Self.

The affair, which was first covered by conservative outlets National File and Breitbart, reportedly was with Tania Joya, whose first husband, John Georgelas, grew up in Texas, converted to Islam and brought her and their children to Syria to join the Islamic State.

She left Syria nearly a decade ago and met Taylor in 2019 when she was trying to work with the school program Preventing Violent Extremism, she told Breitbart. Joya thought that the congressman may be able to help her get involved.

Joya claims that he paid her $5,000 in hush money for the affair that lasted from November 2020 to June 2021.

"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," Taylor told his supporters Wednesday.

First elected to Congress in 2018, Taylor has been criticized by some Republicans for rejecting former President Donald Trump's claims that the 2020 election was stolen and for voting to certify Joe Biden's presidential win, The Dallas Morning News reported. 

Taylor also voted in favor of creating the House committee to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Trump endorsed 16 other Texas incumbents, but not Taylor. Self was endorsed by Trump's former National Security Adviser, Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Michael Flynn.