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Congressman caught in kiss may seek probe of video leak

By David Lawder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The married U.S. congressman embroiled in controversy over kissing a woman on his Louisiana office staff may request a federal investigation into the leak of the security camera video showing the incident, his spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

Republican Representative Vance McAllister, who took office last November in a special election that he won partly by promoting his Christian values, apologized on Monday after a Louisiana newspaper posted a surveillance video showing him in a passionate embrace with office scheduler Melissa Peacock, who is also married. The scandal erupted when the security video from his Monroe, Louisiana, district office was posted on the website of a local weekly newspaper, the Ouachita Citizen.

Peacock resigned from McAllister's office on Monday, the congressman's communications director, Jennifer Dunagin, said.

But McAllister considers the leak to be a serious breach in office security and may send a letter to House Speaker requesting an official investigation into the matter by the FBI, Dunagin said.

"At this point, there has not been a letter sent to Speaker Boehner. Right now, the Congressman is exploring the option," Dunagin said in an emailed statement. "This security breach is something that warrants an investigation, but how we go about doing that is yet to be determined."

The Ouachita Citizen, which boasts a paid weekly circulation of just 5,200 copies, said it had obtained the video from an "anonymous source." The grainy low-light footage was captured by a handheld camera pointed at a computer monitor showing multiple security camera images throughout the small office building.

The News-Star newspaper in Monroe quoted a local pastor, Danny Chance of the Christian Life Church, as saying that the source of the video was another female member of McAllister's local office staff.

Chance could not immediately be reached for comment through the church's offices in West Monroe, Louisiana.

The News-Star also quoted McAllister's chief of staff, Adam Terry, as saying that the staffer had denied providing the video to the newspaper.

In Washington, a duty officer for the Capitol Police, which handles security for members of Congress, said on Wednesday there had been no official requests related to the McAllister matter.

On Tuesday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said he was glad McAllister had apologized for the incident, but declined to say whether McAllister should resign when asked by reporters.

"I've not had a chance to speak to the congressman, so I am 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 be held to a very high standard of behavior."

Peacock and her husband, Heath Peacock, have longstanding ties to McAllister, each contributing $5,200 to his election campaign, according to Federal Elections Commission disclosure forms. Heath Peacock and McAllister had previously worked together at Mustang Engineering, an oil and gas pipeline and services company.

CNN quoted Heath Peacock on Tuesday as saying that he was "devastated" by the incident and blamed McAllister for ruining his marriage.

"He has wrecked my life," Peacock told CNN. "We're headed for divorce."

Phone messages left at the Peacock home in Sterlington, Louisiana, with requests for comment were not immediately answered.

(Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Peter Cooney, Eric Walsh, Jonathan Oatis and Jan Paschal)

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