Embattled state Rep. Eric Turner said Friday he will step down from the General Assembly if he is reelected in November and join a national Christian organization to pursue opportunities in ministry.

Turner, R-Cicero, said he will complete his current term representing District 32 and stay on the ballot. He is facing Democrat Bob Ashley, a freelance journalist from Tipton.

The announcement comes just weeks after House Speaker Brian Bosma announced that Turner would lose his leadership post for failing to disclose a financial interest in a debate he tried to influence during the last legislative session.

Turner, who has served as speaker pro tem since Republicans retook control of the chamber in 2010, has denied any wrongdoing and the House Ethics Committee earlier this year cleared him of breaking chamber rules. But the committee said his actions did not achieve “the highest spirit of transparency” when he lobbied his colleagues to lift a nursing home construction moratorium that would have helped him and his family financially.

The committee members took no action against Turner and Bosma said he is confident the group did a “thorough” investigation. But last month, nursing home-related companies owned by Turner’s son – with ties to Turner as well – entered into a $2.3 billion sale and partnership with a firm based in Ohio.

“It has been the honor of my life to represent constituents of my district in the Indiana House of Representatives,” Turner said in a statement Friday.

“I will forever treasure the opportunities I have had to make Indiana better,” he said. “My wife, Cyndy, and I look forward to this new chapter in our lives, where we can share our skills and abilities with an outstanding Christian ministry, as well as enjoy time with our nine, soon-to-be 11 grandchildren.”

Turner has no choice but to stay on the ballot. Candidates had to withdraw by July 15 to remove their names, according to the Secretary of State’s election calendar. That means if he’s elected, a caucus of precinct committee officials in the district will choose his replacement.

Ashley was not immediately available for a comment. But the Democrat has pushed repeatedly for the House to more thoroughly investigate Turner’s actions.

Turner has served in the House for 24 years and has been the author of a number of tax bills as well as a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. He also authored laws to ban “happy hours” at bars and create a process to let some felons expunge their records.

Turner will become an associate trainer with EQUIP, a non-profit organization specializing in mentoring and equipping Christian leaders. Turner is a long-time financial supporter of EQUIP and earlier he and his wife spent a week with the Christian organization in Cyprus teaching leadership to 60 Christian pastors and leaders from 12 Middle East Muslim countries.

“Cyndy and I debated earlier in the year whether to run for one more term, even though we knew the potential ministry opportunity with EQUIP was around the corner,” Turner said.

“After traveling to Cyprus with EQUIP in May and getting our feet wet teaching leadership, we became aware of so many immediate training needs around the world and we are very ready to pursue this new opportunity,” Turner said. “I will be 63 in December and while we still have our health, my wife and I have longed to serve with a Christian ministry.”

Lesley Weidenbener is executive editor of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students.