There’s No House Ethics Rule That Says You Can’t Make Out With Your Staffer

Rep. Vance McAllister’s involvement with a staffer isn’t explicitly against House ethics rules, but a similar case did lead to calls for an inquiry.

A sign for the Office of Congressional Ethics hangs on a wall October 30, 2009 in Washington, DC.
April 7, 2014, 5:50 p.m.

Re­pub­lic­an Rep. Vance Mc­Al­lister, R-La., apo­lo­gized Monday after a video sur­faced on the web­site of a loc­al pa­per that re­portedly showed him “pas­sion­ately kiss­ing and em­bra­cing a mem­ber of his con­gres­sion­al staff.” Be­cause the wo­man is a paid, part-time staffer in his con­gres­sion­al of­fice, Mc­Al­lister could face an eth­ics in­vest­ig­a­tion.

Though House Eth­ics rules do not spe­cific­ally pro­hib­it ro­mantic in­volve­ment between a mem­ber of Con­gress and his or her staff, the rules do re­quire mem­bers to “con­duct them­selves at all times in a man­ner that re­flects cred­it­ably on the House.” That broad reg­u­la­tion could provide sup­port for an in­vest­ig­a­tion against Mc­Al­lister.

Such a case is not un­pre­ced­en­ted. The un­fold­ing Mc­Al­lister epis­ode is re­min­is­cent of a 2010 in­cid­ent in­volving then-Rep. John Souder, R-Ind., who resigned after ad­mit­ting to an af­fair with a staffer in his own dis­trict of­fice. After Re­pub­lic­an In­di­ana Gov. Mike Pence, then one of Souder’s col­leagues in the House, learned of the af­fair, he re­por­ted it to the House Com­mit­tee on Eth­ics. Speak­er John Boehner fol­lowed up with a let­ter to the com­mit­tee con­cern­ing the af­fair and told Souder to resign.

Souder took his ad­vice, end­ing the in­vest­ig­a­tion (the com­mit­tee is only au­thor­ized to look in­to the con­duct of cur­rent mem­bers of Con­gress).

However, the ex­tent of Mc­Al­lister’s re­la­tion­ship with his staffer — iden­ti­fied by The Ou­achita Cit­izen as Melissa Anne Hix­on Pea­cock, 33 — is un­clear. In his state­ment Monday, Mc­Al­lister apo­lo­gized for “what I’ve done,” but did not elab­or­ate on what ex­actly that means.

Both Mc­Cal­lister and Pea­cock are mar­ried, The Cit­izen re­por­ted. Pea­cock and her hus­band, Hugh Pea­cock, both con­trib­uted the max­im­um amount al­lowed to Mc­Cal­lister’s cam­paign be­fore she was hired to work in his con­gres­sion­al of­fice, and the couple are long-time friends. Hugh Pea­cock and Mc­Al­lister went to high school to­geth­er and worked at the same oil-and-gas com­pany for 16 years, The Cit­izen re­por­ted.

Neither the Of­fice of Con­gres­sion­al Eth­ics nor the House Eth­ics Com­mit­tee would com­ment on the pos­sib­il­ity of an in­vest­ig­a­tion, and none of the of­fices of mem­bers of the com­mit­tee or the Louisi­ana del­eg­a­tion re­spon­ded to re­quests for com­ment.

Asked wheth­er a re­quest for an in­vest­ig­a­tion in­to the mat­ter had been filed Monday, Eth­ics Com­mit­tee Chief Coun­sel Tom Rust said, “We cer­tainly can’t com­ment on that.”

Mc­Al­lister won his House seat in a con­ten­tious spe­cial elec­tion just last Novem­ber. He de­feated state Sen. Neil Riser — who had the sup­port of Gov. Bobby Jin­dal, out­go­ing Rep. Rod­ney Al­ex­an­der, House Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Eric Can­tor, and oth­er mem­bers of the Louisi­ana del­eg­a­tion — by 19 points in a run­off.

What We're Following See More »
SHE IS AMBASSADOR TO CANADA AND A GOP DONOR
Kelly Craft Nominated for UN Post
3 hours ago
THE LATEST
CRITICS CALL RULE "AN INDIRECT WAY TO DEFUND PLANNED PARENTHOOD"
Trump Blocks Federal Funding to Groups that Make Abortion Referrals
7 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"The Trump administration took aim at Planned Parenthood Friday, issuing a rule barring groups that provide abortions or abortion referrals from participating in the $286 million federal family planning program — a move that is expected to direct millions toward faith-based providers."

Source:
SENATE MUST THEN VOTE ON MEASURE WITHIN 18 DAYS
House Expects Tuesday Vote to End National Emergency
11 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"The House plans to vote Tuesday on legislation to formally block President Donald Trump’s attempt to circumvent Congress to fund his border wall, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Friday. The privileged resolution to stop Trump’s emergency declaration — which has 226 co-sponsors, including one Republican — is expected to easily pass the House. It then will be voted in the Senate within 18 days."

Source:
AVOIDS SHUTDOWN WITH A FEW HOURS TO SPARE
Trump Signs Border Deal
1 weeks ago
THE LATEST

"President Trump signed a sweeping spending bill Friday afternoon, averting another partial government shutdown. The action came after Trump had declared a national emergency in a move designed to circumvent Congress and build additional barriers at the southern border, where he said the United States faces 'an invasion of our country.'"

Source:
REDIRECTS $8 BILLION
Trump Declares National Emergency
1 weeks ago
THE DETAILS

"President Donald Trump on Friday declared a state of emergency on the southern border and immediately direct $8 billion to construct or repair as many as 234 miles of a border barrier. The move — which is sure to invite vigorous legal challenges from activists and government officials — comes after Trump failed to get the $5.7 billion he was seeking from lawmakers. Instead, Trump agreed to sign a deal that included just $1.375 for border security."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login