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In his time of trouble, disgraced Rep. Vance McAllister (R-LA) has turned to fellow Louisianans who know a thing or two about public scrutiny: the stars of A&E’s Duck Dynasty. 

Video was recently published of McAllister, a 40-year-old first-year congressman, kissing his 33-year-old staff scheduler, Melissa Hixon Peacock.  Since the controversy began, McAllister has issued a number of apologies and called for the FBI to investigate who leaked the video of his marital infidelity. As the scandal gained intense media coverage, it was reported Wednesday, McAllister sought the advice of Duck Dynasty star Willie Robertson, who campaigned for the congressman during his election bid. The two made headlines together this year when the television star accompanied the congressman to the State of the Union Address in January.

“Willie told me that he was a friend and that I needed to work things out privately,” McAllister told the The News-Star, a newspaper based in Monroe, Louisiana. Robertson refused the paper’s request to comment for the story.

The irony of this scandal is that McAllister campaigned on a “family values” platform, consistent with the fundamentalist Christian message espoused by the stars of Duck Dynasty. And the irony appears to have not fallen on deaf ears.

For starters, Melissa Hixon Peacock’s husband never bought the Christian message McAllister was peddling on the campaign trail to gain votes. “I know his beliefs,” Heath Peacock told CNN. “When he ran one of his commercials, he said ‘I need your prayers,’ and I asked, ‘When did you get religious?’ He said, ‘When I needed votes,’” Peacock recalled. “He broke out the religious card and he’s about the most non-religious person I know.”

To make matters worse for McAllister, the Louisiana GOP on Thursday publicly called for the disgraced congressman to resign

“The Republican Party of Louisiana calls on Vance McAllister to resign his seat in Congress. Mr. McAllister’s extreme hypocrisy is an example of why ordinary people are fed up with politics,” Louisiana Republican Party chairman Roger Villere said in a statement. “A breach of trust of this magnitude can only be rectified by an immediate resignation.”

If the embattled congressman does not resign, he will more than likely face a number of primary challengers. McAllister was elected in a 2013 special election to replace Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-LA), who stepped down to take a job with Governor Bobby Jindal. Now, he could face a primary challenge from Alexander in the upcoming midterm.

And there’s sure to be more Republicans jumping into the race. The solidly Republican district has a late filing deadline for the November election: August 22, 2014.

Photo: centralmarylandphoto via Flickr

 

Poll: Most Parents Oppose Rapid School Reopening

Numerous local school systems around the country are plowing ahead with plans to resume in-person instruction despite growing evidence that children are just as capable of spreading the coronavirus as adults.

Classes were set to begin on Monday in Baker County, Florida. Masks for students will be optional, not required. "It looks like it's back to normal this morning, honestly," a local television reporter observed as parents dropped their kids off in the morning. Many students wore no face coverings.

The Trump administration and the GOP have pushed for full reopening of schools for months."Schools in our country should be opened ASAP," Donald Trump tweeted in May. "Much very good information now available."

"SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!" he reiterated on July 6.

"The science and data is clear: children can be safe in schools this fall, and they must be in school this fall," demanded Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) on Aug. 1.

"I believe our schools can, and should rise to the occasion of re-opening for in-person education this fall," agreed Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) two days later.

"The CDC and Academy of Pediatrics agree: We can safely get students back in classrooms," tweeted House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) last Tuesday.

But while Scalise, Mike Pence, and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos have all cited the American Academy of Pediatrics in their arguments for reopening, a new study by the group and the Children's Hospital Association raises red flags about how safe that will be.

Their report found 338,982 reported coronavirus cases in children as of July 30 in the United States. Between July 16 and July 30, the nation saw a 40% increase — 97,078 new infected children.

Last week, a high school student in an Atlanta suburb posted a photo online showing few students wearing masks in a crowded school hallway. Since that time, at least six students and three adult employees in the school have reportedly contracted the coronavirus, and the school temporarily has switched to online classes.

Another Georgia school district has already seen at least 13 students and staff members test positive since reopening a week ago.

A recent study in South Korea found that children aged ten and older spread the coronavirus at the same rates adults do. A separate study in Chicago suggested young kids might also be effective spreaders.

These contradict the false claims made by Trump and his administration that kids have an "amazing" near immunity to COVID-19.

"If you look at children, children are almost — and I would almost say definitely, but almost immune from this disease, so few. They've got stronger, hard to believe, and I don't know how you feel about it, but they have much stronger immune systems than we do somehow for this," Trump told Fox News on Wednesday.

"You got to open the schools. They have a stronger immune system even than you have or I have," he told Barstool Sports on July 23. "It's amazing. You look at the percentage, it's a tiny percentage of one percent. And in that one case, I mean, I looked at a couple of cases. If you have diabetes, if you have, you know, problems with something, but the kids are in great shape." Children have made up nearly nine percent of all cases, even with schools mostly closed.

And DeVos incorrectly said in a July 16 interview, "More and more studies show that kids are actually stoppers of the disease and they don't get it and transmit it themselves."

In early July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidelines for how schools could operate more safely during the pandemic.

Trump publicly ridiculed the guidelines, dismissing them as "very tough & expensive" and "very impractical."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.