Congressman’s aide kept things clean


Rep. Vance McAllister (R-La.), shown in a photo taken on Nov. 21, 2013, released a statement apologizing for his actions. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Rep. Vance McAllister’s campaign appears to have paid the female staff member he was caught on camera kissing $300 as “reimbursement for headquarter cleaning.”

Melissa Peacock, 33, who worked in the Louisiana Republican’s district office, is listed by name on the married congressman’s post-runoff-election campaign finance report under itemized disbursements. The payment was made Nov. 8.

Colby Itkowitz is a national reporter for In The Loop. View Archive

The Ouachita Citizen posted a surveillance-video clip Monday of McAllister and Peacock passionately making out. The local newspaper says it’s from inside his congressional office in Monroe, La., from late December, and it identifies the woman in the low-quality footage as Peacock.

McAllister released a statement apologizing for his actions, saying, he’s “fallen short” but “I promise to do everything I can to earn back the trust of everyone I’ve disappointed.”

Peacock, who is also married, has not responded to Washington Post requests for comment.

In a video obtained by "The Ouachita Citizen," Rep. Vance McAllister (R-La.) is allegedly seen kissing a female member of his district office staff last December. The congressman has since issued an apology saying, "There's no doubt I've fallen short and I'm asking for forgiveness.” (The Ouachita Citizen)

McAllister’s chief of staff told another local newspaper that Peacock has been taken off the payroll.

Always prepared

As if the threat of perjury weren’t enough of an incentive to tell the truth at a congressional hearing, one congressman asked Attorney General Eric Holder to make a more sacred vow.

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) tried to block the Obama administration’s purchase of a prison in Thompson, Ill., in 2012 because he did not trust that Holder would stay true to a promise not to transfer Guantanamo Bay prisoners there, as had been the White House’s original plan.

So Friday, when Holder testified before a House Appropriations subcommittee, Wolf wanted absolute certainty that the attorney general would not renege.

“Were you a Boy Scout?” Wolf asked. “Uh, yeah,” Holder said.

“Did you take your Boy Scout pledge that you will make sure that how this thing plays out, there are going to be differences, that there will never be anybody from Guantanamo Bay there?” Wolf asked.

“I promise, three fingers,” Holder said, holding up his hand in salute and pointing to it with his other. “That’s Boy Scouts.”

But even a Boy Scout pledge failed to allay Wolf’s skepticism. When the Loop inquired whether the congressman now trusted Holder, Wolf’s spokesman was emphatic in his response: “No.”

Still not laughing

Did you hear the one about the Indian American comedians the State Department sent to tour India?

Neither did Secretary of State John Kerry.

In January 2012, when Kerry was still a senator, the government spent $88,000 to send the “Make Chai Not War” comedy trio overseas to highlight American entertainment — and so the stand-up comics could “disappoint our parents in their homeland,” according to a promotional video posted by the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) brought up the two-year-old expense during a Senate Foreign Relations hearing Tuesday in the lead-up to a question about the adequacy of the United States’ protection of its embassies in dangerous countries.

“When did the comedians go to India? I’m curious,” said Kerry, who was testifying.

Then, after a quip about needing “a few [comedians] right now,” Kerry said: “I’m curious about that. I didn’t know that.”

It’s not the first time Paul used the India comedy trip to make the same point. At a Senate Foreign Relations hearing in January 2013 (Kerry wasn’t there), Paul brought it up to criticize then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she testified on Benghazi.

“I can understand that maybe you’re not aware that your department spent $100,000 on three comedians who went to India on a promotional tour called Make Chai Not War,” Paul said, but added, it was “inexcusable” that she hadn’t read cables about the security concerns at the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi.

Maybe Paul needs some new material?

New on the job

The Senate confirmed Neil Kornze to run the Bureau of Land Management, where he has been the principal deputy director. Previously, the native Nevadan worked on public lands issues in the office of Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

Kornze, 35, will run the federal agency that oversees 264 million acres of public lands in primarily Western states. Republicans cited his age in questioning whether he had the necessary experience to run a government department. The Senate approved him 71 to 28.

The Senate also confirmed, by voice vote, Frank Klotz, a retired Air Force lieutenant general, to be undersecretary of energy for nuclear security and administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration. Klotz had top jobs in the Air Force and on national security issues in President George W. Bush’s administration. He was most recently a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

The Senate confirmed Mark Childress, most recently President Obama’s deputy chief of staff for planning, to be the U.S. ambassador to Tanzania by voice vote Monday night.

Childress is a longtime Washington insider who was a close adviser to former senator and onetime majority leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.). Last fall, The Washington Post reported that Childress was among the top White House staffers warned about the potential risks of HealthCare.gov’s launch.

The Senate also unanimously confirmed two undersecretaries at the Department of Homeland Security:

Francis Taylor will be the undersecretary for intelligence and analysis. His long career in national security includes posts under Bush II.

Reginald Brothers, who was deputy assistant secretary of defense for research, will be undersecretary for science and technology.

Also Monday, the White House announced several nominations:

Jane Toshiko Nishida was chosen to be assistant administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of International and Tribal Affairs, where she is currently the acting assistant administrator.

Gordon O. Tanner was picked to be general counsel of the Air Force. He is currently principal deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for manpower and reserve affairs.

Thomas P. Kelly III, a career Foreign Service officer, was nominated to be U.S. ambassador to Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa.

— With Colby Itkowitz

The blog: washingtonpost.com/
intheloop. Twitter:@InTheLoopWP.

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