Rep. Vance McAllister (R-La.) was franker than most lawmakers, when he admitted last week he expected to receive a campaign contribution after he voted against a bill.
The congressman, perhaps best-known for getting caught on tape kissing a staffer and returning to Congress despite vigorous calls for his resignation from Louisiana GOP leaders, said he was relaying the advice allegedly given to him by a colleague in the House as a cautionary tale of how "money controls Washington," according to The Ouachita Citizen.
In comments made to a meeting of the Northeast Chapter of Louisiana CPAs last Thursday, McAllister said he “played dumb” with the colleague, who told him to vote “no” on legislation related to the Bureau of Land Management because he would receive a bigger kickback from a special interest group that way.
“I played dumb and asked him, ‘How would you vote?’ ” McAllister said. “He told me, ‘Vote no, and you will get a $1,200 check from the Heritage Foundation. If you vote yes, you will get a $1,000 check from some environmental impact group.’ ”
“‘Are you serious?’ ” McAllister said he asked the colleague, “and he told me, ‘Yeah, wait and see.’ ”
He wouldn’t offer the lawmaker’s name because he “did not want to put their business out on the street.”
It’s unclear what bill McAllister was referencing, but he said he ultimately voted no but received no check, because the group and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) are “upset with me.” Jindal and the chairman of the state Republican Party called for McAllister to resign, after the video of him kissing a staffer who was not his wife went public.
“I voted no, and I didn’t get a Heritage Foundation check, but he did,” McAllister said. “I went back and checked with my friend, ‘I didn’t get a check, man. What were you talking about?’ He told me, ‘Well, I got one. Why didn’t you?’ ”
McAllister told the crowd on Thursday: “In case you didn’t know, the Heritage Foundation is upset with me, and so is our governor. … They are always trying to throw bullets at me. Once I told my friend about Gov. Jindal being mad at me, he said, ‘Well, that’s why you didn’t get a check.’ ”
McAllister returned to Congress amid controversy earlier this year and said while he would not resign, he also had no plans to run for reelection. He has since walked that back, suggesting he might seek another term this fall, but his personal relationship issues have already drawn him challengers.
Heritage Vice President Wesley Denton said in a statement that the organization doesn’t contribute to campaigns.
"The Heritage Foundation is a nonpartisan research and educational organization that does not make endorsements or donations in elections,” he said.
And McAllister later told the Monroe News-Star that he wasn’t talking about the Heritage Foundation and that his comments were taken out of context.
“I have never cast a vote with the expectation or anticipation of receiving any money for a vote. I was just trying to illustrate how much money controls Washington, D.C., and the reporter took the comments totally out of context,” he said.
Pressed on the details of his speech, however, McAllister demurred, saying he wouldn’t “dignify what was clearly taken out of context.”
—This piece was updated at 1:50 p.m.