Yesterday, LA Congressman Vance McAllister (R-Swartz) announced that he will not seek another term in office. Back in December, the married Congressman and father of five children was captured on video kissing a married staff member outside of his district office. It took four months, but the images were finally released to the public to much hoopla both in Louisiana and throughout the nation.
The scandal had all the elements of a soap opera. The female staffer, Melissa Peacock, was a donor to McAllister’s campaign. She is married to Heath Peacock, a close friend of the Congressman, who complained that McAllister was a phony Christian who only found religion during election time. Heath Peacock blasted McAllister for not only the betrayal, but also for not apologizing to him after having an affair with his wife. Peacock, who said that he was “headed for divorce” from his wife blamed McAllister for “wrecking his life.”
The sordid incident was unwelcome news in the conservative 5th congressional district of Louisiana, comprised of a large segment of evangelical voters. The scandal exposed McAllister as a hypocrite, who campaigned on a family values platform, but in reality was behaving inappropriately with a married aide while deceiving his own wife.
In the aftermath, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Louisiana GOP State Party Chairman Roger Villere called for McAllister to immediately resign. By fulfilling his term, while not seeking another one, McAllister rebuffed party leaders, but acknowledged the cold political reality of his actions.
If he did run, it would be next to impossible for McAllister to win another term. The negative attention has completely overshadowed any positive accomplishments of his short tenure in office. His major benefactors, the Robertson family of Duck Dynasty fame, would almost certainly not support him so publicly again.
In addition, there are other, serious candidates waiting in the wings to run for the office this fall. To make matters worse, McAllister is strong opposed by the state Republican Party, which never supported the Congressman and did not agree with his positions on issues such as Medicaid expansion in Louisiana.
Regardless of his controversial political views or scandalous conduct, by refusing to run again, McAllister has performed a service to embattled voters. At least his constituents will be spared the additional embarrassment of McAllister trying to win another term by answering questions about his inexcusable behavior. It would have been a constant, painful reminder of the controversy.
Too bad other Louisiana politicians involved in scandals are not as accommodating as McAllister. He embarrassed his district and now he is promptly leaving the political scene. In contrast, other Louisiana politicians who disgrace their office and constituents selfishly remain on the job, even though they have limited effectiveness and their presence is a constant reminder of their inappropriate behavior. This penalizes the voters of Louisiana and further tarnishes our pathetic political image.
It is bad enough that voters were lied to during the campaign about the character of their congressman. At least now, they will get the chance to start anew with another elected representative, hopefully someone who will fulfill both campaign and marital promises.
Jeff Crouere is a native of New Orleans, LA and he is the host of a Louisiana based program, “Ringside Politics,” which airs at 7:30 p.m. Fri. and 10:00 p.m. Sun. on WLAE-TV 32, a PBS station, and 7 till 11 a.m.weekdays on WGSO 990 AM in New Orleans and the Northshore. For more information, visit his web site at www.ringsidepolitics.com. E-mail him at [email protected].