Congressman caught kissing married aide won't seek re-election
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) Louisiana GOP Rep. Vance McAllister, caught on camera kissing a married female aide, said Monday he's failed his family, let down his district and doesn't intend to run for re-election this fall.
In a statement, McAllister apologized for conduct he called a "personal failure," and said he spent the Easter congressional recess reconciling with his family.
"I've failed those I care most about and let down the people who elected me to represent them," the freshman lawmaker said.
Though he won't be on the November ballot, McAllister said he'll serve out the remainder of his term. The married father of five children has been in office fewer than six months.
"The people of the 5th District of Louisiana need and deserve a voice in Washington. Today, I am announcing that I will not seek re-election, but I will continue to be that voice and will uphold the office to which I was elected to serve for the remainder of my term," he said.
Top Republicans in the state, who had called the 40-year-old McCallister's behavior embarrassing and hypocritical, welcomed the news.
"While we still believe the best course of action would have been for Congressman McAllister to resign so he can focus on his family, we are pleased Congressman McAllister and constituents in the district can begin the process of putting this unfortunate situation behind them," GOP Gov. Bobby Jindal said in a statement.
Likewise, state Republican Party Chairman Roger Villere said that while he would have liked to see McAllister "close this chapter sooner, I was happy to hear of his decision to do what is best for his family and his constituents."
A grainy security tape released earlier this month by a north Louisiana newspaper showed McAllister kissing Melissa Peacock, an aide and family friend, in the congressman's district headquarters.
McAllister apologized and Peacock resigned, along with the congressman's district director who was suspected of releasing the video. Top Republican officials in the state, including Jindal, called on the congressman to step down.
McAllister had stayed out of public sight since the scandal erupted, canceling events for therapy sessions and spending time with his family during Congress' Easter recess.
"I have taken this time to reconcile with my wife and kids, and I'm forever grateful for their support and forgiveness," he said.
A businessman with no political experience, McAllister won a special election in November 2013 to represent the district centered in the state's northeast and central parishes, surprising the GOP by handily defeating the Republican establishment candidate.
He put his family and his faith at the center of his campaign for Congress, appearing with his wife and their children in one commercial and vowing to "defend our Christian way of life" if elected.
To win the seat, McAllister largely self-financed his election bid and got a boost from endorsements by his most famous constituents, the bearded Robertson men of the cable television hit "Duck Dynasty."
But he had few allies within his party to whom he could turn once the scandal broke.
A spokeswoman for former Rep. Rodney Alexander, whose resignation for a seat in Jindal's cabinet forced the 2013 special election won by McAllister, said Monday that he will not seek election to Congress.
State Rep. Robert Johnson, a Democrat who unsuccessfully ran for the seat against McAllister, continued Monday to call for the congressman to resign, saying he has been neglecting his office's responsibilities during the scandal.
"He's not doing his job. He isn't communicating with other elected officials. He isn't communicating with his constituents. For all practical purposes, the people of our district are without representation in the United States Congress," Johnson said in a statement.
Johnson said he's considering running again for the 5th District seat. Republican attorney Ed Tarpley, a former district attorney for Grant Parish, already has announced he's running for the position.
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