Fifth District Congressman Vance McAllister, who campaigned for office last fall as a devout Christian and devoted father and husband, admitted Monday he had engaged in an extramarital affair and asked for “forgiveness” after The Ouachita Citizen and its sister newspapers exposed his transgressions.
McAllister issued the statement to take responsibility for his actions after The Ouachita Citizen, The Franklin Sun and the Concordia Sentinel published video surveillance of McAllister passionately embracing and kissing one of his congressional aides. The aide, Melissa Peacock, was his district scheduler.
Peacock resigned from McAllister’s congressional staff Monday, according to McAllister’s chief of staff, Adam Terry.
The Ouachita Citizen obtained the video recording of McAllister and Peacock from an anonymous source. The video can be seen at www.ouachitacitizen.com.
"There's no doubt I've fallen short and I'm asking for forgiveness," McAllister’s statement said. "I'm asking for forgiveness from God, my wife, my kids, my staff, and my constituents who elected me to serve. Trust is something I know has to be earned whether your [sic] a husband, a father, or a congressman. I promise to do everything I can to earn back the trust of everyone I've disappointed.
"From day one, I've always tried to be an honest man. I ran for Congress to make a difference and not to just be another politician. I don't want to make a political statement on this, I would just simply like to say that I'm very sorry for what I've done.
"While I realize I serve the public, I would appreciate the privacy given to my children as we get through this.”
The incident involving McAllister, 40, and Peacock, 33, of Sterlington, occurred at roughly 1:39 p.m. on Dec. 23, 2013, inside McAllister’s congressional office at 1900 Stubbs Ave., Suite B, in Monroe.
Peacock donated $5,200 to McAllister’s congressional campaign last fall, according to the Federal Election Commission. According to the FEC, Peacock listed her employment at the time of the donation as a self-employed cosmetologist. She joined McAllister’s congressional staff after he took office in November. Photographs posted to Facebook show Peacock was involved in a number of McAllister’s campaign events during last fall’s congressional race.
Peacock’s husband, Heath Peacock, 34, also donated $5,200 to McAllister’s congressional campaign last fall, according to the FEC. At the time of his donation to McAllister’s campaign, Heath Peacock listed his employment as an inspector for Wilcrest Field Services, according to the FEC. According to his Linkedin page, Peacock now works offshore as an assistant chief inspector for Wood Group Mustang.
Throughout last fall’s congressional campaign, McAllister, a Republican from Swartz, touted his Christian faith and in one television commercial, he asked voters to pray for him. At least two other campaign television commercials featured McAllister walking hand in hand with his wife, Kelly, while their five children walked along. One television commercial captured the McAllister family in the kitchen of their home preparing breakfast before attending church.
McAllister and his wife have been married for 16 years.
McAllister told The Ouachita Citizen during last fall’s campaign that he would not shy from stressing his Christian faith. McAllister and his family are members at North Monroe Baptist Church. That faith prepared him for public service, he said during an interview.
“You don’t achieve goals by compromising your integrity but by building relationships on respect,” McAllister said.
“We have to love our neighbor, which is the most bipartisan you can be,” McAllister told The Ouachita Citizen at the time.
McAllister’s ties to Melissa and Heath Peacock extend beyond McAllister’s campaign for the 5th District congressional seat.
For many years, McAllister has been friends with the Peacocks, who were captured in photographs with the McAllister family at a birthday party in a 2009 Facebook photo album posted by Kelly McAllister.
Fifth Judicial District Court records show McAllister and Heath Peacock grew up a little more than three miles apart in rural West Carroll Parish. McAllister and Heath Peacock both graduated during the 1990s from Forest High School.
McAllister also worked with Heath Peacock over a 16-year period for Mustang Engineering, a Houston, Texas-based oil and gas company. In 1997, McAllister married Kelly McAllister and dropped out of the University of Louisiana-Monroe to accept full-time employment at Mustang Engineering. McAllister was joined there in 1998 by his brother, Brant McAllister, and Heath Peacock. Both Brant McAllister and Heath Peacock left Mustang in early 2013. McAllister resigned from Mustang in August 2013 after announcing his candidacy for the 5th District congressional seat.
No marriage license could be found through public records for Melissa and Heath Peacock though they as a married couple bought a home in Swartz less than a mile from McAllister’s home in 2007, according to 4th Judicial District Court records.
On Tuesday, Heath Peacock granted an interview with CNN. He said McAllister had “wrecked my life.”
Peacock pointed out that McAllister had “apologized to everyone in the world except me.”
“I know his beliefs. When he ran one of his commercials, he said ‘I need your prayers,’ and I asked, ‘When did you get religious?’ He said, ‘When I needed votes,’” Peacock recalled for CNN. “He broke out the religious card and he’s about the most non-religious person I know.”
McAllister was elected in November to complete former Congressman Rodney Alexander’s unexpired term. Alexander resigned from the U.S. House in September to become secretary of the state Office of Veterans Affairs under Gov. Bobby Jindal. Alexander was first elected to the House in 2002. He was a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee when he left office.
McAllister captured 60 percent of the vote in the November run-off against state Sen. Neil Riser, a Republican from Columbia. The pair outdueled 12 other candidates to reach the November general election.
McAllister’s campaign benefited from support from the Robertson family of “Duck Dynasty” fame. Phil Robertson publicly supported McAllister while Willie Robertson endorsed McAllister in a YouTube video. Also, Willie Robertson recorded “robo” calls on behalf of McAllister’s campaign.
In January, Willie Robertson attended President Obama’s State of the Union address in Washington as McAllister’s guest.
If he seeks a full term in the House, McAllister will stand for re-election in November.