Boehner says McAllister has ‘decisions that he has to make’; state GOP chair calls for resignation

 

Updated 1:04 p.m.

House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters Thursday that he has spoken with Rep. Vance McAllister (R-La.), the lawmaker caught on camera kissing a former aide, but stopped short of calling for his resignation.

"I expect all members to be held to the highest ethical standards, and this is no different," Boehner said at his weekly news conference. "I've talked to Representative McAllister ... I have had a conversation with him. And you know, he's got decisions that he has to make."

McAllister has been a no-show in D.C. since the scandal broke Monday, missing votes on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Republican leadership aides said that McAllister had not attempted to make contact with Boehner or others until Thursday morning, when the speaker received a phone call shortly before his weekly news conference.

A spokeswoman for McAllister said ]this week that McAllister "is with his family in Louisiana."

While Boehner stopped short of saying whether he believes McAllister should resign, the embattled congressman is facing pressure from Republicans in his own state.

Roger Villere, chairman of the Louisiana Republican Party, said Thursday that “Mr. McAllister’s extreme hypocrisy is an example of why ordinary people are fed up with politics. He embarrassed our party, our state and the institution of Congress. ... I call on Mr. McAllister to put the interests of his nation, state and party above his own and step aside.”

Other Louisiana lawmakers have stopped short of calling for McAllister's resignation in recent days.

Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), who is running against Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), said Wednesday evening that he didn’t think the McAllister scandal would keep voters from supporting his campaign.

“I don't see a negative halo effect, I just don't," he told reporters.

But Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.) repeatedly called the situation "serious."

“This is a serious situation, it’s a very serious situation, and it needs to be looked into," he said Wednesday night. "Obviously he'll have to make a decision with his family and his constituents about what he needs to do."

Boustany did not call on McAllister to step down.

Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) had perhaps the most colorful response. While he also didn't call for McAllister to resign, he openly pondered what many have thought this week: That the kiss caught on camera might not have occurred in a vacuum.

“This may end up being an isolated incident, but then someone may pop up and say something," he said. "You know how this usually unfolds, there’s some innocuous kind of thing and then you get reaction from the politician and then next you have him out on a boat named ‘Hanky Panky’ or something. You've seen this drill many times."

Fleming later clarified that he was referring to the case of former Democratic presidential candidate Gary Hart, who in 1987 denied he was having an affair only to be caught a few days later aboard a yacht called "Monkey Business" with model Donna Rice.

Wesley Lowery covers Capitol Hill for The Fix and Post Politics.
Ed O’Keefe is a congressional reporter with The Washington Post and covered the 2008 and 2012 presidential and congressional elections.
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