Faith-touting congressman seeks privacy after kiss

Faith-touting congressman seeks privacy after kiss
This photo taken Nov. 21, 2013 shows then-newly-elected Rep. Vance McAllister, R-La. waiting to be sworn in on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Captured on tape kissing another man's wife, a Louisiana congressman who touts his religious faith issued a public appeal Wednesday for privacy for his family "during this difficult period."

Republican Rep. Vance McAllister's brief statement offered no answers to the questions that have swirled about his private life - or political future - since the videotape surfaced of him kissing a woman identified as Melissa Peacock, who resigned Monday from his congressional payroll.

Jennifer Dunagin, a spokeswoman, said in the statement that McAllister "will not pursue an FBI investigation at this time regarding the distribution of a video filmed in leased federal office space." She said the congressman "is focused on earning back the trust of those he has disappointed, and he reiterates his request for privacy for his family during this difficult period."

The congressman has been absent from the House this week, and it was not known if he intended to return to the Capitol before lawmakers begin a scheduled two-week vacation to coincide with Easter.

Other Republican members of Congress from his state generally avoided comment, although Rep. John Fleming said, "the longer he's not up here (in Washington) the more he is paralyzed as a functioning congressman."

Rep. Bill Cassidy told reporters, "It is a family tragedy for two families," and declined further comment.

A spokesman for Speaker John Boehner said the House's top Republican had not spoken with McAllister since the videotape surfaced.

The videotape, which shows a man and a woman in a long kiss, was taken inside McAllister's congressional suite of offices in Monroe, La., a little more than a month after he won his seat in Congress. It is not publicly known how the recording made its way into the Ouachita Citizen, which posted it and said it had been made on Dec. 23.

According to the LegiStorm, a website that tracks congressional salaries, Peacock joined McAllister's congressional staff shortly after his election in November, earning about $407 a week, or less than $22,000 a year. She and her husband were contributors to McAllister's campaign.

Her husband, Heath Peacock, told CNN in an interview that McAllister "has wrecked my life." The network quoted Peacock as saying: "I loved my wife so much. I cannot believe this."

McAllister is married with five children.

The businessman won his congressional seat in an upset last fall in to the seat held by former Rep. Rodney Alexander, who resigned. McAllister was able to finance much of his campaign on his own, and he also benefited from an endorsement from the bearded men of the popular "Duck Dynasty" reality TV show.

McAllister's campaign website says he "was taught at a young age the importance of faith, family, and hard work."

In a campaign commercial that aired in last fall's race, he was shown with his wife, Kelly, and their five children, and said: "We have a big family breakfast every Sunday before church."

He said in the ad that he and his wife try to instill "the values of faith, family and country" at home. "If you will trust me with your vote, you can count on me to take those values to Washington and defend our Christian way of life," he added.

In an interview with The News-Star in Monroe, La., he said he intends to seek re-election to a full term in November "unless there is an outcry for me not to serve."

Dunagin said Peacock, "voluntarily resigned" after the story broke on Monday.

A report filed with the Federal Election Commission lists a $300 payment to Peacock as "reimbursement for headquarter cleaning" in McAllister's Monroe campaign office, before she joined his staff.