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'Kissing Congressman' Video Puts Scandal In Unusual Focus

Wed, April 9, 2014 8:27pm

Story by Liz Halloran


Update: The chairman of Louisiana's Republican Party demanded Thursday that married GOP Rep. Vance McAllister step down in light of his caught-on-video canoodling with a now-former female staffer.

Chairman Roger F. Villere, Jr. said in a statement that McAllister's "extreme hypocrisy is an example of why ordinary people are fed up with politics. A breach of trust of this magnitude can only be rectified by an immediate resignation. He has embarrassed our party, our state and the institution of Congress."

Also Thursday, GOP House Speaker John Boehner told reporters that he has spoken with McAllister, adding that "he's got decisions that he has to make." Said Boehner: "I expect all members to be held to the highest ethical standards and this is no different."

McAllister has continued to resist calls for his resignation, saying through his staff that he is currently focusing on his family.

Our earlier story:

Embattled GOP Rep. Vance McAllister has made at least one smart move: He concluded that finding out who may have leaked a security video that captures him in a torrid embrace and lip lock with a woman (not his wife) won't actually erase said video.

One day after the freshman congressman from Louisiana — who ran last year as Christian conservative — indicated he planned to ask GOP House Speaker John Boehner to request an FBI investigation into the leak, he reversed course.

A statement issued Wednesday afternoon by McAllister's office asserted that he "will not pursue an FBI investigation at this time regarding the distribution of a video filmed in leased federal office space," which happened to be the congressman's district office back home.

"Congressman McAllister is focused on earning back the trust of those he has disappointed," the statement said, "and he reiterates his request for privacy for his family during this difficult period."

The development is the latest in the sad and, at times, startling fallout from this week's public dissemination of a video that shows the married, father of five McAllister in a clinch with then-staffer Melissa Hixon Peacock. (Also married, she has since left the congressman's employ.)

It's the rare situation in which the act or indiscretion has been captured on video and publicly shared. (There was, of course, former Democratic New York Rep. Anthony Weiner and his porno selfies, but those were self-posted –- he was a victim of his own leak, so to speak.)

The release of the grainy, black and white video snippet — and an even more widely distributed screen shot of McAllister, 40, and Peacock, 33, in mid-make out — set in motion the following:

  • A statement of apology from the congressman, which said, in part: "There's no doubt I've fallen short and I'm asking for forgiveness. I'm asking for forgiveness from God, my wife, my kids, my staff, and my constituents who elected me to serve...From day one, I've always tried to be an honest man."
  • Charges that a McAllister office worker leaked the video. The Monroe, La., News-Star reported that a local minister pointed to the congressman's office manager as the potential leaker, alleging she wanted McAllister ousted.
  • A heart-rending, if ill-advised, appearance on CNN by Peacock's husband, Heath, 34, a longtime friend and generous financial supporter of McAllister's. Heath Peacock pronounced McAllister's Christian bona fides as faked for campaign purposes. "He's about the most nonreligious person I know," he said. "He wrecked my life." Peacock said he and his wife of six years are "headed for divorce" and that he's "just freaking devastated by the whole deal, man. I loved my wife so much."
  • And, finally, the publication of a strange exchange of texts between McAllister and a person who reached out to him anonymously. "I messed up," McAllister told the stranger.

McAllister told the News-Star that he has experienced "an outpouring of support, not for my actions, but for me to continue to represent the people."

But the congressman, who before Monday, was best-known for bringing a Duck Dynasty cast member to the State of the Union address, doesn't have a lot of time to make amends. He won the seat last year in a special election to finish out the term of retiring GOP Rep. Rodney Alexander.

That means this year is another election year for McAllister, and primary challengers are no doubt already jockeying for position.

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