James Gill: McAllister has plenty of company with scandal issue

Two of our Republican congressmen have been vying for our attention recently, but Vance McAllister, of Swartz, beat Bill Cassidy, of Baton Rouge, hands down.

They started off in tandem, co-authoring a letter to the Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration. McAllister and Cassidy professed themselves alarmed over plans to shut down the American Midstream pipeline, which has been delivering gas from Monroe to Baton Rouge since 1926.

The two congressmen really got down to the nitty-gritty, inquiring, for instance, about “the feasibility of retrofitting the pipeline (i.e. making the pipeline ‘piggable’),” and “the feasibility of an alternative inspection protocol (i.e. hydrostatic tests).”

Constituents had to be impressed by two guys who not only know their way around the federal bureaucracy but speak the lingo of the oilfields. McAllister has only been in Congress since winning a special election in late November but had evidently hit the ground running.

Four days later, Cassidy got the kind of publicity politicians dream of after a fellow airplane passenger fell sick. Fortunately for them both, Cassidy is a doctor. Fortunately for the media, Cassidy’s loyal staff was ready to provide full details of his heroics as he gears up his campaign to oust our Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu.

But it was Cassidy’s misfortune to be overshadowed by McAllister, who also was in all the papers that day, though in a different story. The source for this one is murky, although, if it was a staffer, it sure wasn’t a loyal one.

The video of McAllister that is proving a major hit online is pretty murky, too, but it was taken from a security camera, so high-def is not to be expected. Still, you can see that the kiss he bestows on his scheduler Melissa Peacock is not the peck on the cheek that convention regards as suitable for the wife of an old high school buddy and former colleague.

Neither was it an expression of gratitude for the $5,000 that Heath and Melissa Peacock had each contributed to McAllister’s election campaign. In fact, Heath Peacock is now talking divorce and notes that McAllister has apologized to everyone save him.

In the apology, McAllister issued, he requested privacy for his family, and the delight that comes naturally every time some pious fraud is exposed will always be tempered by sympathy for his children. Everyone knows McAllister has five, because his protective instincts did not kick in until he had made full use of them in campaign commercials trumpeting his devotion to God, country and “traditional marriage.”

Louisiana voters by now must figure a faith and “family values” platform is pretty much a guarantee the candidate will stray.

Getting caught in infidelity can end a political career, as was the case with Bob Livingston when he was poised to become speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. Livingston resigned but found some consolation making millions on K Street.

But illicit sex isn’t necessarily fatal. David Vitter chose to brazen it out after admitting a “serious sin” as a customer of a Washington escort service and is now favorite to win the next governor’s race.

It wasn’t kissing that got Livingston or Vitter into trouble, so such evidence as we have against McAllister isn’t as damning as it might be. But having deceived the voters, and betrayed a friend, he is clearly no cinch to win a full term in November’s election, supposing he resists calls from Gov. Bobby Jindal and other GOP bigwigs to resign.

Breaching security in a federal office may constitute a crime, but McAllister has evidently backed off plans to have the FBI identify the snitch. Presumably he figures an investigation would only give the story more legs, and he would rather hunker down until the smoke clears and he can return to saving the pipeline.

His fellow Republicans are evidently not all that sorry about his discomfiture. They were all for his opponent in the runoff election, and since then, McAllister has continued to upset the apple cart by declaring that a congressman’s job “sucks.” He might have chosen his words more carefully had he realized that he had been caught on camera sucking face.

McAllister also has committed heresy by declaring that Gov. Bobby Jindal is crazy to reject the federal millions available for an expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare. He is flirting with bipartisanship, and that can be a slippery slope. In an extreme case, it could lead to necking a Democrat.

James Gill’s email address is jgill@theadvocate.com.