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Vance McAllister Considers Comeback After Consulting God, Constituents

In another display of excellent decision making, Rep. Vance McAllister (R-LA) — otherwise known as the Kissing Congressman — is considering reversing course and pursuing re-election in the fall. The disgraced congressman, who made headlines earlier this year when a video showing the married father of five locked in a passionate embrace with a staffer was leaked, has apparently made adequate apologies to his wife and to God, and has received the green light for another campaign.

Polling also played a role in McAllister’s change of heart; private surveys released earlier this week actually show McAllister as the frontrunner in Louisiana’s 5th congressional district. Conducted by the Glascock Group, the latest poll shows McAllister with a slight 26.1 to 25.6 percent edge over state senator Neil Riser, a former opponent. Riser has since decided against a campaign, however, leaving McAllister as the only candidate with considerable public support.

Then again, Zach Dasher — a member of Duck Dynasty’s Robertson family — recently announced plans to run for McAllister’s seat, so maybe there will be some stiff competition after all. Dasher, the nephew of Phil Robertson — the “Duck Commander” of the family, who is famously close with McAllister — is a 36-year-old father of four with no political experience, but plenty of reality TV support. In a statement, Dasher emphasized his religious-right bona fides, saying, “Man is made in the image of the Almighty God. If we are afraid to say that, then we don’t have a case for liberty.” He went on to proclaim his position as “a strong supporter of the Second Amendment [who] favors adoption of a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, an overhaul of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and a strong U.S. military.” 

Glascock’s poll also listed McAllister as both a Republican and a Democrat, following rumors of an affiliation switch, but McAllister reaffirmed his dedication to the GOP in a statement earlier this week. “I believe in pro-life, I believe in a strong military, in a smaller government, I believe in a free enterprise system,” he assured constituents. “Those are all core values of the Republican Party … and I’ll always be a Republican.” Apparently, one of the core values of the Republican party is not fidelity.

Of course, McAllister has never completely ruled out a potential re-bid for Congress. “If there’s a possibility that the people want me to do another political office, again,” he said in May, “maybe I’ll do it.

Now, it would appear that the people have spoken.

McAllister may be taking his cues from another famously scandal-ridden Louisiana politician. In 2007, Senator David Vitter (R-LA) was revealed as a client of “D.C. Madam” Deborah Jeane Palfrey. Vitter admitted to his dalliance with prostitutes, and like McAllister, apologized to his wife and to God, asking his constituency for forgiveness. 

Though the scandal was expected to sound the death knell for Vitter’s political career, the senator not only managed to escape with his career intact, but also went on to win a landslide re-election in 2010. Vitter, one of the few prominent politicians to support McAllister during his scandal, is now the frontrunner in Louisiana’s 2015 gubernatorial race.

While Vitter is a prime example of a scandal success story, his situation is the exception, not the norm. According to a Washington Post analysis of 38 political sex scandals over the past four decades, only 39 percent of House and Senate members involved in such a sticky situation won re-election. The rest lost, resigned, or chose not to run again. Even more troubling for McAllister, the rate of re-election for scandal-ridden members of Congress has plummeted since Bill Clinton’s impeachment; just 20 percent have held on to their seats after a scandal since 2000.

Chart via Washington Post

Chart via Washington Post

The odds are against McAllister, but that won’t stop him now.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

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Disgraced GOP Rep. Seeks Counsel From ‘Duck Dynasty’ Gang

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

 

Louisiana Congressman ‘Very Sorry’ After Video Shows Romantic Encounter

By Michael A. Memoli, Tribune Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — Louisiana Rep. Vance McAllister has apologized after a video surfaced of the Republican lawmaker in a romantic encounter with a member of his staff.

On Monday, the Ouachita Citizen posted a brief video sent by an anonymous source that shows McAllister, who is married, leaving his congressional office in Monroe, La., after passionately kissing a woman the paper identified as his district scheduler, Melissa Anne Hixon Peacock.

According to the newspaper, the incident occurred on Dec. 23, barely a month after McAllister had been sworn into office.

McAllister won a special election in November after a campaign in which he described himself as a “veteran, family man and self-made businessman.” One of his television ads featured his wife of 15 years and five children as he said that Louisiana values “of faith, family and hard work are sorely missing in Washington.”

McAllister was also boosted in his campaign by an endorsement from Willie Robertson and other stars of the TV series “Duck Dynasty.” Robertson was McAllister’s invited guest to the State of the Union address in January.

In a statement released by his office hours after the story was posted online, McAllister said he had “fallen short” and was “very sorry for what I’ve done.”

“Trust is something I know has to be earned, whether your (sic) a husband, a father or a congressman,” he said. “I promise to do everything I can to earn back the trust of everyone I’ve disappointed.”

McAllister also said that although he was a public servant, he hoped for privacy for his family.

McAllister won’t face voters again until November under the state’s voting process, in which candidates from all parties compete in the general election, followed by a December runoff if no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote.

MCT Photo