UPDATED: North Carolina Congresswoman Renee Ellmers issued a statement on Friday afternoon saying she has been “targeted by completely false accusations and innuendo.”
It was her first public comment addressing rumors spread in a recent mass-emailing accusing her of having an affair with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Ellmers’ office provided a statement attributed to the Republican North Carolina congresswoman:
“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."
Multiple news media outlets have reported that people close to Ellmers and McCarthy say the allegation is unfounded. POLITICO and others report that emails were sent to dozens of Republican lawmakers by Steve Baer, a Republican donor in Chicago who is known for his frequent emails to GOP legislators.
McCarthy abruptly and unexpectedly withdrew from the race for speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday. That came a day after U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, a Republican from North Carolina, wrote a letter calling on all candidates for leadership positions to withdraw if they have any skeletons in their closets.
McCarthy has said Jones’ letter didn’t have anything to do with his decision. Jones told Fox News on Thursday night that he didn’t write the letter with any specific accusations in mind, but simply as a general statement of principle.
Ellmers’ attorney, Thomas Farr of Raleigh, on Thursday wrote a letter demanding that one conservative website remove a story it published earlier this year alleging the extramarital affair.
Earlier Friday, POLITICO reported that Ellmers, in a private meeting of Republican legislators on Friday, addressed what she called the “nasty emails” and thanked them for their “prayers and support,” according to POLITICO, citing multiple unnamed sources who were in the room.