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Vance McAllister Should Ignore The Calls Of His Fellow Republicans To Resign

McAllister

Vance McAllister, the Louisiana Congressman who was caught on video last week kissing a married staffer, is facing calls from fellow Republicans to resign from office:

WEST MONROE, La. — As she handed out garbage bags on Saturday as part of an anti-litter drive, Patsy Edmondson drew a parallel to Louisiana’s history of tawdry politics.

“If we grow up in litter, we accept it,” she said. “If we grow up with this kind of politician, we accept it.” Rolling her eyes, she said both were learned behaviors. “We’re trying to teach our children it costs us money to be dirty.”

Ms. Edmondson’s congressman, Representative Vance McAllister, is the latest Louisiana official facing demands for his resignation, after a leaked video last week showed him passionately kissing a woman who was not his wife.

After winning an election pledging to “defend our Christian way of life,” Mr. McAllister now faces accusations of hypocrisy as thick as spring mosquitoes on the bayou. Gov. Bobby Jindal, a fellow Republican, has called on him to step down, and the state Republican chairman labeled him “an example of why ordinary people are fed up with politics.”

As Mr. McAllister, an outsider in his first term, dropped from sight and hunkered down, presumably in his home near here in northeast Louisiana, he has resisted the calls to quit and told a local newspaper that he would let voters decide his fate in November.

Even as it is unclear if he can survive so long, the texture of Mr. McAllister’s unusual political story has grown more piquant, revealing an estrangement from the Republican establishment, the racial politics of a poor district and voters who feel caught between deep disappointment and an impulse to forgive.

A number of voters here identified a double standard in the Republican state leadership for denouncing Mr. McAllister but issuing no such rebuke to Senator David Vitter during a 2007 prostitution scandal. Mr. Vitter apologized for “a very serious sin in my past” and said he had asked for and received forgiveness from his wife and from God. He was re-elected to the Senate in 2010 and is considered as a favorite to succeed Mr. Jindal in the 2015 governor’s race.

Ms. Edmondson said the place to judge Mr. McAllister would be at the ballot box. “If Jindal is going to ask him to resign, why is it not right for David Vitter to resign?” she said.

The difference, of course, lies in the fact that when the Vitter scandal was made public the summer of 2007, Louisiana still had a Democratic Governor who would have had the power to name a replacement who would serve prior to the General Election. By the time Bobby Jindal was in office as Louisiana’s Governor nearly a year later, the scandal had largely blown over and, in 2010 Vitter was reelected by a margin of nearly 250,000 votes.  If Vitter had resigned the Senate in 2007 when the D.C. Madam scandal broke, his seat would have gone to a Democrat at least temporarily, and quite possibly for longer depending on how a Special Election went. With McAllister, though, Republicans face no such risks. The seat will stay in Republican hands in any case, and getting McAllister out of way would  save the national party a lot of grief heading into November,

As a broader point, though, it’s not at all clear to me that McAllister is under any obligation to resign. Unlike David Vitter, he didn’t break the law. There’s not allegation that he misused his position of power or benefited financially on matters he was voting on. The relationship with the female staffer appears to have been entirely consensual on both their parts. So, what, exactly, is it that McAllister has done that mandates he step aside? Yes, he’s a hypocrite, but that’s true of more people on Capitol Hill than one can possibly count. Certainly, he’s an embarrassment to the part as a whole, but if they were able to somehow get over the embarrassment of a Senator who regularly did business with prostitutes, why couldn’t they learn to accept a guy who was caught making out with a staffer on video? And, finally, isn’t it up to the voters of Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District to decide if they want him to continue as their Congressman? They’ll have a chance to do that later this year after all. Given all of that, I see no reason why McAllister should heed the calls of his embarrassed fellow Republicans. Stay in office, run for re-election if you want to. After all, if a guy like David Vitter can not only be re-elected after his scandal, but now be considered the frontrunner for the GOP nomination for Governor in 2015, anything is possible.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. gVOR08 says:

    After winning an election pledging to “defend our Christian way of life,” Mr. McAllister now faces accusations of hypocrisy…

    Perhaps at some point we should recognize that banging the help seems to be consistent with a lot of these people’s Christian values.

    Normally I’d bet that IOKIYAR would prevail, but there are a couple of lines in the linked NYT piece that sound like McAllister may be on pretty shakey ground.

    Mr. McAllister won his seat in a 20-point landslide, defeating the handpicked candidate of party leaders in a special election.

    In defiance of Governor Jindal, Mr. McAllister supported an expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, calling it justified by the high poverty rate in northeast Louisiana. In a district that is 34 percent African-American, Mr. McAllister, who is white, won four out of five black votes, said Mayor Jamie Mayo of Monroe, who supported him

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  2. Whether McAllister wins re-election is an open question. I suspect he won’t, but that’s a seprate question from whether he’s done anything worthy of removal from office.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  3. al-Ameda says:

    Not to worry Doug, Americans don’t do “shame resignations.”
    All public posturing concerning morals aside, we’re down with blatant hypocrisy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  4. Scott says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I suspect he will win reelection. I think history has shown that those that wait out the storm usually succeed, especially if their district is highly gerrymandered, and they can claim to be a victim.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  5. C. Clavin says:

    Obviously there is no legal reason for him to leave office.
    Having to hold a special election will cost LA a bunch of money.
    They are already one of the biggest Red State welfare queens…taking about $1.78 for every dollar they send to Washington…no need for them to spend any more Blue State money just to get rid of this piece of crap.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  6. @Scott:

    The last report I saw said that Rodney Alexander, who had resigned last year thus prompting the Special Election that McAllister won, may run for the seat. If not him, then national Republicans who have taken aim at McAllister are likely to find someone else to back and he/she will benefit from a lot of financial backing.

    Yes, it’s possible that McAllister could win, but I’m guessing he won’t

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  7. @C. Clavin:

    I’m not sure of LA law but my guess is that if he did resign they’d just let the seat stay vacant until the November election

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  8. Tillman says:

    I have the same response I did in the Mark Sanford political redemption thread:

    I don’t detest making value judgments on politicians – Lord knows I do it all the time – I detest political machines routinizing a basic response to certain behaviors despite any context.

    And the calls from his fellow Republicans to resign over this are exactly what I meant. The dude’s done nothing worth losing a job over.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  9. Dmichael says:

    Neither the article nor the comments reflect on the fact that after he, as a someone who would “defend our Christian way of life” was exposed presumably violating that pledge, did what any red-blooded Christian american would do: Fire the low level married female employee with whom he was having this relationship. Mr. Mataconis assumes that their relationship was “entirely consensual on both their parts” without noting the fact that her job was entirely dependent on his finding her useful. Once she wasn’t, she was gone.

    I say “presumably” violating his pledge because I can no longer determine what behavior is or isn’t the “Christian way of life.”

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  10. ratufa says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    What did he do wrong? He cheated on his wife, which is a morally wrong thing to do (I’m assuming that they actually had sex and the wife didn’t give her blessings to the affair).

    What is a reason for the voters to remove him? Because somebody who cheats on his wife is not the type of person they thought they were electing when they voted him into office. An additional reason might be that they didn’t think they were electing someone stupid and unethical enough to have an affair with an employee. It is, of course, up to the voters to decide if they want to re-elect him.

    That the only wrongdoing of his you mentioned is “hypocrisy” makes me better appreciate those who lament the elevation of hypocrisy as the mother of all vices.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  11. Tillman says:

    @Dmichael:

    Neither the article nor the comments reflect on the fact that after he, as a someone who would “defend our Christian way of life” was exposed presumably violating that pledge, did what any red-blooded Christian american would do: Fire the low level married female employee with whom he was having this relationship.

    As cold-hearted as this sounds, I would expect no less if the genders were reversed. An affair with your boss is the worst kind to pursue since s/he can always fire you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  12. Rafer Janders says:

    @al-Ameda:

    Not to worry Doug, Americans don’t do “shame resignations.”

    Republicans don’t (Vitter, Gingrich, etc.). Democrats, however, do (Spitzer, Weiner, etc.). (With some exceptions in both camps, but generally it holds true).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  13. DrDaveT says:

    Without taking sides in the “should he resign or not” discussion, let me note (loudly) that “it wasn’t illegal” is a very weak defense. There are many many things that are wrong — some of them VERY wrong — that are not illegal. We do not live in a nation where there is a law against everything that decent people don’t do — and that’s a good thing.

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