Macon state Rep. Allen Peake admits having account on infidelity website Ashley Madison

Allen Peake
Allen Peake bsanderlin@ajc.com

State Rep. Allen Peake admitted Monday that he once had an account on the infidelity website Ashley Madison.

Peake sent an email to about 40 relatives and close friends Sunday night acknowledging what he had done and explaining the circumstances.

In the statement, he said he would be “taking some time to evaluate what action needs to be taken” regarding his District 141 seat in the state House. For now, though, he said he has no plans to resign.

“I’m deeply, incredibly sorry to the people I’ve hurt,” Peake, R-Macon, said during an interview. “I was a complete idiot to go there in the first place.”

In his email, Peake said he went through “a very difficult period in my marriage” several years ago. About two and a half years ago, he said he told his wife, Betsy, “about every detail of my involvement” on the website.

“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,” it read in part.

“This was a private matter that we thought we had resolved,” Peake said in the interview.

“I fully realize I have disappointed many people,” his statement said. “There is no excuse or justification, what I did was wrong, and I am truly, deeply sorry to all those I have clearly hurt.”

Peake’s disclosure could cause him political problems, said Chris Grant, an associate professor of political science at Mercer University.

“Particularly, it may encourage a primary (challenge),” he said.

“I think that these days we evaluate politicians’ life in every facet because we have information we would not have had in days gone by,” he added.

But Grant said the case raises a larger question: should it matter?

“If it’s a private matter and doesn’t have any effect on his public work ... then I think the answer should be ‘no,’ ” he said. “Seems to me this is a question for he, his wife and his religious faith.”

Peake’s legislative colleagues seemed to feel the same. Those who could be reached declined comment.

Last month, hackers released a little more than 10 gigabytes of information on some 30 million users of the Ashley Madison site when its owner would not shut it down.

The hackers had complained that the company charged a fee to users to delete their accounts from the site, but continued to keep that data on its central computers.

While only about three dozen emails contained local, state and federal government entities, there were thousands of other Middle Georgia users included in the data leak.

Peake said he did not use a government computer to access the site, but he said he had paid to have his account scrubbed after his confession to his wife.

During the legislative session earlier this year, Peake championed a bill that made it legal for Georgians to possess a marijuana-based liquid -- that doesn’t get users high -- to treat one of eight diagnoses, which includes pediatric epilepsy.

Even though possession of the cannabis oil is legal in Georgia, the plant required to manufacture it is not readily available and is still illegal. That has prompted some Georgians to leave the state for locales where the treatment for their afflictions is more readily accessible.

Peake is part of a state committee tasked with looking at growing the product in state within a confined and regulated area.

He said Monday he’s had discussions with some “very wise and trusted advisers” who have encouraged him not to resign because of the work still left to be done.

“We still have medical refugees that are not home,” he said, adding that he would shoulder “some continued embarrassment to get the family members home.”

He said he would decide whether to seek re-election by early 2016.

Staff writer Maggie Lee contributed to this report. To contact writer David Schick, call 744-4382. or find him on Twitternote>

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