House Majority Leader Eric Cantor asked Louisiana Rep. Vance McAllister to consider resigning after the political fallout from his "kissing scandal," says the embattled lawmaker.
But McAllister, who announced Monday that he won't seek a second term, is not changing his mind about staying in office through November.
"[Cantor] asked me why I would want to put myself through this for the next eight months if I'm not running for reelection. He did ask me to consider resigning, but I respectfully disagree with him, and my family is behind my decision," McAllister said in a statement Tuesday. "I do not feel it's in my constituents' best interest to leave them without representation for the second time in less than a year. My district deserves a voice and a fair election process, not an expensive potential special election that benefits the establishment."
It's been a little over three weeks since a video was leaked to the press, showing the married lawmaker, who campaigned as a Christian conservative, kissing a then-staffer. He has since apologized and said he and his wife decided that he not seek a second term.
The Cantor-McAllister meeting was first reported by Politico. Cantor has "has frequently said that members of the conference should hold themselves to a high standard of conduct consistent with the privilege of serving in the House," Cantor spokesman Rory Cooper said via email. "The majority leader thinks the congressman has fallen short of that standard and he told him that he thinks he should resign his seat."
Later, McAllister was asked by reporters whether he feels it's unfair that Republican Rep. Michael Grimm of New York, who has been charged with 20 criminal counts, isn't facing similar calls from leadership to resign. "I don't think Mr. Grimm has anything to do with me," McAllister said.
Democrats charge there is a political reasoning behind the Republican leader calling on McAllister, who has admitted to improprieties, to step down but not Grimm, who maintains his innocence.
"Republican leaders made one thing clear today; it is worse to kiss the wrong person in a safe Republican seat than to face a 20-count criminal indictment in a swing district," said Josh Schwerin, a spokesman for Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
This article appears in the April 30, 2014 edition of NJ Daily.