ATLANTA - In a private email to friends and family, obtained by the Atlanta-Journal Constitution's Jim Galloway, state Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, confessed to opening an account on Ashley Madison.
The website devoted to extra-marital affairs was hacked earlier this year and personal information of account holders posted on the Internet last week.
Channel 2 Action News normally doesn't report on the personal lives of politicians unless it affects policy or taxpayers' money, but in a very remorseful letter Peake said his actions involving the website are forcing him to evaluate his political future.
In the email titled “Tough News”, Peake wrote:
[T]he truth is that several years ago, I was on this site during a very difficult period in my marriage. It was stupid and I was an idiot for going on there. Two and a half years ago I told her about every detail of my involvement on this site.
Through tears and heartache, much pain and anguish, and with intense professional counseling, we made the decision to work to save our marriage. Her powerful and merciful gift of forgiveness helped us make it through some very dark and lonely days, and come out the other side with a stronger relationship and marriage. Forgiveness is indeed life-changing, and miraculous.
According to the email, Peake also said he would be taking some time to evaluate his status as a House member.
Peake was the champion of last session's medical marijuana legislation. In May, the Macon lawmaker was appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal to head up the new Georgia Commission on Medical Cannabis which will make recommendations for a system of creating an in-state growth and distribution system to provide the drug.
The governor is standing behind Peake.
“This is certainly a matter for him and his family to resolve, it's a personal matter. I do not see that interfering with his position as a floor leader for me,” Deal told Channel 2’s Lori Geary.
Political analyst Bill Crane says Peake can survive this politically, but it won’t be easy.
Personal choices have political consequences,” Crane said. “It is actually more damning for this to happen if you're in the Republican party than it would if you're a Democrat, not because there are different standards, but you're playing to a different base of voters.”
Geary reached out to Peake who did not want to go on camera but said, as of now, he has no plans to resign so he can continue to fight for the families that need access to cannabis oil.
Last week, hackers released detailed records on millions of people registered with the website, including credit card information.
The CEO of Ashley Madison’s parent company, Toronto-based Avid Life Media Inc. stepped down after numerous lawsuits were filed in the U.S. and Canada.