When politicians get caught in extra-marital dalliances, there’s usually a controversy that follows a predictable trajectory. There are the allegations, followed by denials, then apologies, all wrapped up in humiliation. These messes usually last several days, if not weeks.
Rep. Vance McAllister, a Louisiana Republican who’s only been in office for about five months, truncated the lifecycle considerably yesterday, going from revelation to contrition over the course of an afternoon.
A married House Republican, who ran on a devout Christian conservative platform, apologized Monday after a video surfaced that reportedly shows him kissing an aide.“There’s no doubt I’ve fallen short and I’m asking for forgiveness. I’m asking for forgiveness from God, my wife, my kids, my staff, and my constituents who elected me to serve,” said Rep. Vance McAllister in a statement. “Trust is something I know has to be earned.” He added, “I promise to do everything I can to earn back the trust of everyone I’ve disappointed.”
The extra-marital romance was first uncovered by a local outlet, the Ouachita Citizen, which obtained a video of McAllister kissing an aide in his district office in late December – about a month after the congressman won a special election in his Louisiana district.
The exact nature of the relationship is unclear, but it’s worth noting that the aide was reportedly removed from the congressman’s payroll “during the past 24 hours.”
Complicating matters a little more, it appears the aide and her husband were generous McAllister campaign contributors.
As a general rule, I tend to believe these incidents are private matters, but the standards for scrutiny change when hypocrisy is involved.
For example, when Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) was caught hiring prostitutes, the political problem had less to do with his behavior and more to do with the fact that Vitter ran as a “family values” conservative, urging voters to elect him in part so he could champion traditional morality.
Personal mistakes are one thing; hypocrisy is something else.
McAllister, a married father of five, has a similar problem: “McAllister cited his faith, family and hard work in ads run during the campaign last year. His wife and kids were featured prominently in the ads as well.”
On his campaign issues page, the Republican puts “Faith and Family” on top, touting his family’s membership in a local Baptist church, and citing his values as an explanation for why he “opposes President Obama’s policies of bigger government.”
Looking ahead, the congressman will reportedly seek re-election. In the interim, it’s unclear if McAllister’s personal missteps will run afoul of the House GOP leadership’s “zero tolerance” policy on lawmakers and ethical lapses.