|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Louisiana's 5th district
November 16, 2013 - January 3, 2015
Vance Michael McAllister
January 7, 1974
Oak Grove, Louisiana, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Kelly Duncan McAllister (m. 1997); 5 children|
|Alma mater||University of Louisiana at Monroe|
Vance Michael McAllister Sr. (born January 7, 1974), is a Republican former member of the United States House of Representatives from Louisiana's 5th congressional district. He won a special runoff election held on November 16, 2013, for the seat vacated by fellow Republican Rodney Alexander. A year later, following a scandal involving infidelity, McAllister placed fourth, with 11.1 percent of the vote, in a competitive primary for a full term in the U.S. House.
McAllister is a lifelong resident of northeast Louisiana. He was born to Gene and Kathy McAllister in Oak Grove, Louisiana. The senior McAllister worked for forty-two years at the former International Paper Company mill in Bastrop. McAllister grew up on a small community in West Carroll Parish and graduated in 1992 from Forest High School in Forest, Louisiana, south of Oak Grove. Immediately after high school, McAllister entered the United States Army, in which he became a combat medic and served a tour of duty in South Korea. Later, he was stationed at Fort Knox, Kentucky. He subsequently joined the Louisiana National Guard and attended the University of Louisiana at Monroe but dropped out to accept employment from Mustang Engineering, a company which sent him on foreign assignments. He remained affiliated with Mustang until he resigned to run for Congress.
McAllister first worked in the oilfield technology business and then branched into oil and natural gas leasing, real estate, convenience stores, pipeline construction, equipment rental, and the promotion of wrestling matches and other sporting events. His most successful company is an oil exploration and production company, Texas Coastal Energy Company, based in Irving. Texas Coastal explores for oil and natural gas domestically, and is run by its CEO, Jeff Gordon. He has Fox Pizza fast-food restaurant franchises and owns three Subway sandwich shops, two in Monroe and one in Oak Grove.
McAllister was politically unknown until he entered the contest to choose a successor to Rodney Alexander, who stepped down on September 26, 2013, in the first year of his sixth term in Congress, to join the administration of Governor Bobby Jindal as secretary of the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs. With 18 percent of the vote, McAllister finished second among fourteen candidates in the first round of balloting held on October 19. State Senator Neil Riser finished first with 32 percent of the vote. In the first round of balloting, Riser led McAllister by nearly 15,000 votes and carried thirteen of the twenty-four parishes in the district.
McAllister was the leading votegetter only in West Carroll and Richland parishes but ran a strong second to Riser in Ouachita Parish. As the top two candidates, Riser and McAllister entered the runoff contest.
The catalyst for McAllister's strong showing in the race is believed in part to have been the celebrity endorsement of Phil Robertson of the Duck Dynasty television series, which is filmed in West Monroe. Robertson had joked that McAllister has less political experience than Riser as a factor in McAllister's favor.
Riser stressed his own experience acquired since 2008 in passing legislation, working on the Louisiana state budget, and performing constituent services, but McAllister disagrees. "Look where experience has gotten us. Washington is so disconnected from the 5th District that voters are turning their backs on the establishment," McAllister is quoted in an interview with the Monroe-based journalist Greg Hilburn.
McAllister spent more than $400,000 of his own money in the primary campaign. "A lot of people are seeking me out now asking how I got here, more about my business and background and who I am and what I stand for. They asked why did you put your money in there. It's because there's no strings attached to me. I'm a complete outsider. I've earned everything I've [spent] in this race myself," McAllister told Hilburn. McAllister said that since the primary he has received limited funding from supporters in the runoff campaign. He spent an additional $400,000 in the race against Riser.
McAllister and Riser both oppose the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act signed into law in 2010 by President Obama, but the two differ on how to approach the legislation known as Obamacare. McAllister opposed the United States federal government shutdown of 2013 as a proper method to force the repeal of the measure: "Obamacare is a nightmare, but it's a reality, and it's here. [We] have to live with it, we have to make it livable. We have to make it work for the people until one day we [have the votes] to repeal it." Riser supported the House Republicans' failed effort to de-fund the Affordable Care Act despite the temporary government shutdown. He supports a balanced budget at the national level, as is required for all the states. McAllister said that he would support a path to citizenship for individuals already in the country illegally. Riser, however, urged that border security be addressed before any other immigration concern. Riser endorsed the House approach of piecemeal immigration reform, rather than the comprehensive route favored by the U.S. Senate.
Though Louisiana's congressional delegation supported Riser, McAllister won the support of the third-place special election candidate, Jamie Mayo, the Democratic mayor of Monroe. Mayo said he found McAllister "more approachable" than Riser. Days later, McAllister garnered the endorsement of Republican Clyde C. Holloway, who ran fourth in the primary, just behind Mayo.
On November 16, 2013, McAllister defeated Riser, 54,450 (59.65%) to 36,840 (40.35%). McAllister carried 14 of the 24 parishes in the district, including large margins in his home parishes of West Carroll and Ouachita as well as in Rapides, the largest parish in Central Louisiana, Jackson, Lincoln, Morehouse, Richland, and the African-American majority parishes, East Carroll, Madison, and Tensas. Riser fared best within his state Senate district, including his home parish of Caldwell, Catahoula, Concordia, Franklin, and La Salle and several of the Florida Parishes in the southeastern corner of the state.
Upon taking office, McAllister retained Alexander's congressional staff, headed by Gregory Adam Terry (born 1980), formerly of Harrisonburg and Ruston, Louisiana. McAllister's swearing-in marked his first ever trip to Washington, D.C. He predicted that he would take conservative positions most of the time, but on occasion he would vote liberal on roll call votes. "Every incumbent ought to be a little nervous. ... The 5th District spoke and they [sic] spoke loud and clear. They see that if one of the poorest districts in the country can do it [rebut the party establishment], why wouldn't one of the most powerful districts in the country do it?", McAllister said, after he was sworn into office by Speaker John Boehner. McAllister's guest at the 2014 State of the Union Address was Duck Dynasty's Willie Robertson.
After two months in office, McAllister told a Monroe Chamber of Commerce gathering that the job of U.S. Representative "sucks. It ain't no fun. But, the day I start enjoying it in Washington, D.C., is the day that I should come home." McAllister said he would focus on cutting spending and serve in a "bipartisan" capacity: "People are sick and tired of government not working. Bipartisanship is necessary for government to work. All this talk about government shutdown is unnecessary."
In June 2014, the non-profit watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington requested that the Department of Justice and House Ethics Committee investigate a published statement from McAllister that an unnamed colleague had told him he would receive a $1,200 contribution from The Heritage Foundation for voting against a measure related to the Bureau of Land Management. McAllister responded that he had not received a donation, which he ascribed to the group being "upset" with him after revelations of his extramarital affair with a staffer. He also said that he had not cast the vote with the expectation of receiving money, but had revealed what was said to him to show how "money controls Washington" and how work in Congress is a "steady cycle of voting for fundraising and money instead of voting for what is right." A spokesman for The Heritage Foundation stated: "we would never do anything like that... we do not [make political donations]. The Heritage Foundation is a think tank and does research and education, but does not get involved with political bills at all."
McAllister and his wife, the former Kelly Duncan, whom he married in 1997, have five children and reside in rural Swartz, Louisiana. He is a member of the North Monroe Baptist Church. He describes his decision to run for Congress as a "prayerful one. Many people make light of my spiritual faith, but that is okay with me. I know the blessing that I have received from the good Lord and the inner peace that comes from being a believer. ... I knew there were a number of qualified people in the district to be congressman, but also I realized that I had the time and the financial capability ... that maybe [the others] didn't."
On April 7, 2014, the Ouachita Citizen newspaper of West Monroe, posted online a copy of a surveillance video from an anonymous source which showed McAllister kissing a woman in his Monroe district office. The video was recorded in McAllister's Monroe congressional office on December 23, 2013. McAllister's aide Leah Gordon was alleged to have leaked the video to the Ouachita Citizen. The staff member who kissed McAllister was Melissa Anne Hixon Peacock. Both aides resigned in 2014. The woman was subsequently identified as a married, longtime employee of McAllister.
McAllister made a statement concerning the video: "There's no doubt I've fallen short and I'm asking for forgiveness. I'm asking for forgiveness from God, my wife, my kids, my staff, and my constituents who elected me to serve". Former opponent Republican State Senator Neil Riser said, "I think right now we should be mindful and sensitive to the families who are involved." McAllister's chief of staff, Adam Terry, said that the staff member was fired by the congressman.
The Hill, a Washington, D.C. newspaper, reported on April 9, 2014, that Louisiana Republican Party chairman Roger F. Villere Jr. called for McAllister to resign. One day later Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal issued a similar demand, as did Hammond's Daily Star, a politically nonaligned newspaper editorially.
McAllister found himself being defended by Representative Cedric Richmond, the sole Democrat in Louisiana's U.S. House delegation. Richmond described McAllister's situation as one of the "gotcha moments" in which the political parties have "taken joy in the pain of their supposed opponents". U.S. Representative Bill Cassidy (R-Baton Rouge) urged respect for the McAllister family's privacy and cited the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12).
On April 28, 2014, McAllister announced that he would not seek reelection. He said that his marriage and family have remained solid through the crisis and that his decision not to run for a full term had nothing to do with lack of support from Governor Jindal or Chairman Villere, who had opposed his candidacy from the beginning. On June 30, 2014, McAllister reversed himself and announced that he was running for reelection despite his previous statement announcing his retirement.
Joining Tarpley in a challenge to McAllister was Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo, who also ran in 2013, and the Monroe Republican Andrew Harris Brown (born June 1965), an oil and natural gas businessman and the younger son of the late state Senator William Denis "Billy" Brown, III, also of Monroe.
A poll by the Glascock Group released in early August 2014 showed McAllister leading Mayo, 27 to 21 percent. Ralph Lee Abraham Jr. (born August 1954), a Republican physician and former veterinarian from Mangham in Richland Parish, polled third with 18 percent. In fourth place in the poll was Zach Dasher, a pharmaceutical salesman who is related to stars of the A&E network series Duck Dynasty, with 14 percent. Dasher was followed by two other Republicans, Ed Tarpley at 9 percent and Harris Brown at 6 percent. Libertarian Party candidate Clay Grant of Boyce in Rapides Parish, trailed with 5 percent. In individual match-ups with his opponents, McAllister was shown to be highly vulnerable.
Meanwhile, McAllister expressed no concern about Governor Jindal's refusal to endorse him for a full term in Congress. Instead, McAllister urged Jindal, who while speaking in Iowa dismissed the McAllister candidacy out of hand, to spend more time with his own voters in Louisiana. "Tell the governor, I said 'thank you' [for the nonendorsement]", McAllister said. McAllister had criticized Jindal for declining to expand Medicaid in Louisiana, which has a considerable population of workers unable to afford health insurance.
The Glascock Group poll released September 3 showed Dr. Abraham had taken the lead in the race with 22 percent support. McAllister was then rated a strong second with 20 percent, Jamie Mayo third at 15 percent, businessman Harris Brown fourth at 11 percent, Public Service Commissioner Clyde Holloway fifth at 9 percent, Zach Dasher sixth at 7 percent, Ed Tarpley seventh at 6 percent, and Monroe attorney Jeff Guerriero (who quickly withdrew from the race, citing the demands of his law office) and Green Party candidate Eliot Barron tied for eighth place at 4 percent each. McAllister's 20 percent poll support coincided exactly with the 20 percent who rated his congressional performance as "excellent". Another 18 percent rated McAllister "very poor".
Despite what appeared to be an endorsement of McAllister in 2013, Phil Robertson withdrew his support for the congressman and instead endorsed his own nephew, Zach Dasher. Robertson said that McAllister had told him in 2013 that he stands with God and family, and "two months in he's messing with some chick." McAllister said that he was "disappointed" that Robertson is "speaking against the words that he writes about, like forgiveness, when we're all sinners. ... What Phil and I have in common is we believe in the same Lord, and that's the God of second chances."
McAllister defended his job performance and claimed to have "outworked every [other] member of Congress," having held twenty-three town hall meetings in his district in August 2014. "I know what we need in the 5th District because I listen to the people," McAlliser said. McAllister ended up in fourth place with 26,606 votes (11.1 percent), in the competitive primary.
McAllister challenged Republican, two-term District 33 state Senator Mike Walsworth of West Monroe, in the nonpartisan blanket primary scheduled for October 24, 2015. "It's important to end the Jindal-Walsworth administration," said McAllister, a reference to Walsworth's longtime backing of Governor Jindal, a candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. "They've been there eight years and we've got nothing to show for it," McAllister added.
McAllister called for debates with Walsworth in all six parishes in the district. He suggested that Walsworth plans to run for mayor of West Monroe when the long-term incumbent, Democrat Dave Norris, retires: "Everybody knows he wants to run for mayor. I've seen how the state has suffered while Jindal ran for another job", McCallister said.
Walsworth handily turned back McAllister's challenge, 15,891 votes (62.3 percent) to 9,626 (37.7 percent).
On September 27, 2017, a Louisiana judge issued a warrant for McAllister's arrest after he failed to appear for a debt hearing. McAllister had failed previously to appear for other debt hearings and it is claimed he owes $296,000 to one bank and $250,000 to another.