Panel discussion at PAR meeting divided during ‘Kissing Congressman’ debate

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana, a good government watchdog group, held its annual conference in Baton Rouge today. During the event, there was a panel discussion on various topics, including Louisiana Congressman Vance McAllister.

Leonard Downie was the deputy metro editor at the Washington Post newspaper during the Watergate scandal in the early 70's. Today, he was the keynote speaker at the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana.

Back in the 70's, Downie helped supervise the coverage of the newspaper when the world was watching the Nixon scandal unfold. Decades later and well into the Internet age, Downie says he's amused by the coverage of Congressman McAllister.

"Because of the nature of the kissing, you know it's the sort of thing, particularly nowadays, it's viral," Downie tells 9News. "I've watched the video online already, so I think there is sort of a puritan interest, if you will, whenever a politician gets involved in something like that. You obviously have a history of that in Louisiana on that sort of thing."

During a short panel discussion with elected officials and media prior to the luncheon, McAllister got some unexpected support. Democratic State Representative Katrina Jackson of Monroe, who called herself one of McAllisters constituents, urged the freshman congressman to hang in there.

"What he did was immoral, I'll admit to that, but his constituents will have an opportunity to judge and as one of those constituents I don't believe he should resign," says Jackson.

Others on the panel were not so forgiving.

"I believe he should resign and I'm going to base that on the fact that, of course we can't legislate morality, we all know that, but when he ran for office the reason I'm saying that is he ran on family values," says Rep. Simone Champagne, R-Erath.

"It's about people's confidence in government and what the congressman has done, the hypocrisy of it, makes it that more difficult for public officials to be believed by the press," said State Treasurer John Kennedy.

If McAllister holds on and does not resign, he will face re-election in November.

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