Four days after a video emerged of Republican Rep. Vance McAllister canoodling with a member of his staff, the Louisiana freshman has finally gotten in touch with House Speaker John Boehner.
Boehner wouldn’t elaborate on the content of their conversation, but it comes on the heels of Louisiana Republican Party Chairman Roger Villere’s call for McAllister to step down. One of McAllister’s colleagues speculates that there could be more to the scandal.
“I expect all members to be held to the highest ethical standards, and this is no different,” Boehner told reporters Thursday. “I’ve talked to Representative McAllister. I won’t share with you the kind of conversations I have, but I have had a conversation with him. And you know, he’s got decisions that he has to make.”
McAllister has not voted in Congress this week and was back in his district Wednesday.
Villere issued a statement Thursday calling on McAllister to resign, saying, “I attempted to resolve this matter privately and directly with Mr. McAllister, but his chief of staff chose to make this information public.”
News broke Wednesday, attributed to “a source who works for the state party,” that Villere told McAllister’s chief of staff, Adam Terry, that the state party wanted the congressman to resign.
“Mr. McAllister’s extreme hypocrisy is an example of why ordinary people are fed up with politics,” the statement from Villere read. “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. A video showing him engaged in conduct unbecoming a member of Congress, on public time, in a public office, with one of his employees, was the focus of the national press for days.”
Later on Thursday, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal called on McAllister to resign, saying that his behavior was “an embarrassment.” Jindal was a big supporter of McAllister’s runoff opponent last year, state Sen. Neil Riser.
McAllister apologized shortly after the video leaked on The Ouachita Citizen. “I don’t want to make a political statement on this, I would just simply like to say that I’m very sorry for what I’ve done,” he said in a statement. “While I realize I serve the public, I would appreciate the privacy given to my children as we get through this.”
Rep. John Fleming, R-La., said that he has not spoken with McAllister since the videotape came to light and that the decision of whether or not to resign would ultimately be up to the congressman and his supporters. However, he added, this may not be the end of the story.
“I’m just saying that, you know, this may end up being an isolated incident. But then somebody may pop up and say — well, you know how this usually unfolds. There’s some innocuous kind of thing and then you get the reaction from the politician just to see if he’s going to tell the truth and admit it. But then next you have him out on the boat named ‘Hanky Panky’ or something like that,” Fleming said, laughing, referring to former Sen. Gary Hart, who photographed on a yacht called “Money Business” with a young woman after denying rumors that he was having an affair. “So, you’ve seen this drill. It’s happened many, many times.”
Rep. Charles Boustany, another of McAllister’s colleagues from Louisiana, on Wednesday stopped just short of calling for an ethics investigation. “This is just horrible behavior unbecoming of a member of Congress,” Boustany said, using language that is reminiscent of a rule in the House ethics manual.
“I think it deserves being looked at,” he said, when asked whether the House Committee on Ethics should launch an investigation. “Like I said, none of us have the facts.”¦ All I can say is this is a very serious matter. It needs to be looked into.”
Several members of the Ethics Committee declined to comment about whether McAllister will come under a congressional investigation, noting that they are prohibited from speaking about such matters.
Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La., who is running for the Senate this fall, declined to say whether McAllister should step down. “I’ve got nothing to say about that. I’d rather not talk about it. I mean, it’s two families and it’s a tragic situation and I’d rather not talk about it,” Cassidy said.
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