WASHINGTON -- If Rep. Vance McAllister (R-La.) thought he could put a growing controversy over kissing one of his staffers behind him, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Thursday seemed to suggest otherwise.
Speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill, Boehner offered his first comments on the incident since a surveillance video leaked on Monday that shows McAllister kissing his district scheduler Melissa Anne Hixon Peacock at his Monroe, La., office. McAllister, who is married, apologized to his constituents; but Boehner, a stickler for discipline, hinted the freshman congressman has some decisions ahead of him about continuing in his role.
"I expect all members to be held to the highest ethical standards, and this is no different," Boehner said. "I've talked to Rep. McAllister. I won't share with you the kind of conversations I have, but I have had a conversation with him. And he's got decisions that he has to make."
McAllister has so far maintained he has no intention to resign, but has pledged to win back the public's trust.
"There's no doubt I've fallen short and I'm asking for forgiveness," he said in a statement Monday. "I promise to do everything I can to earn back the trust of everyone I've disappointed. 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."
Boehner's comments went slightly further than those of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who told reporters on Tuesday that he was pleased that McAllister had apologized but stopped short of weighing in on whether he should resign.
"I've not had a chance to speak to the congressman, so I'm going to reserve further judgment on the question," Cantor said. "I will say that the American people deserve all of their representatives here in Washington to hold to a very high standard of behavior."
A number of state officials have called on McAllister to resign, including the chairman of the Republican Party of Louisiana. Rep. Charles Boustany, the most senior member of the Louisiana House delegation, also deemed the controversy "a very serious situation that needs to be looked into," according to Politico.
McAllister assumed office in November 2013 after winning a runoff election to succeed former GOP Rep. Rodney Alexander. During the race, he focused particularly on his conservative values and his marriage of 16 years.
His opponent in that race, state Rep. Robert Johnson (D), was among the first to call on the congressman to step down.
"This is another embarrassment to Louisiana," said Johnson, who has hinted he may run again. "I think he needs to resign, and I don't think he can be effective."
Peacock, who is also married, tendered her resignation shortly after the video surfaced.
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