Rep. Renee EllmersRenee EllmersClay Aiken launches second bid for Congress Former Rep. Renee Ellmers running for Congress again in North Carolina Cawthorn 'likely' violated rules by bringing candidate on House floor MORE (R-N.C.) on Friday morning thanked fellow House Republicans for their support after they received emails from a conservative activist alleging she had an affair with Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyEffort to overhaul archaic election law wins new momentum Watch: GOP leaders discuss Biden's first year in office House GOP leaders vow to end proxy voting despite widespread Republican use MORE (R-Calif.).
Ellmers brought up the emails during the “open mics” session of the meeting, according to a lawmaker in the room. The meeting was held to discuss the House GOP’s path forward after McCarthy’s stunning decision to abruptly drop out of the Speaker race on Thursday.
“She was very sorry that members had gotten these nasty emails and that their inboxes were being cluttered up,” a GOP lawmaker said. “She said being a woman in this business is hard, but that she was a tough cookie.”
After the meeting, Ellmers also released a statement.
“As someone who has been targeted by completely false accusations and innuendo, I have been moved by the outpouring of support and prayers from my colleagues, constituents and friends. Now I will be praying for those who find it acceptable to bear false witness,” she said.
Many GOP lawmakers have received emails in recent days from Steven Baer, a conservative activist from Chicago, alleging that McCarthy and Ellmers had an extramarital affair while they served in the House.
Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) this week sent a letter to lawmakers urging anyone running for a leadership post to drop out if they had “skeletons” in their closet.
McCarthy on Thursday indicated the Jones letter was not a factor in his decision to drop out of the race.
With his wife standing by his side, McCarthy brushed off the accusation: "No. No. Come on."
Rumors of the affair had circulated enough that at a closed-door meeting on Tuesday with Texas’s GOP delegation, members pressed McCarthy for reassurances that it was not true. McCarthy assured them that it wasn’t true, according to lawmakers present.