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After initial denials, Alabama secretary of state admits affair, won’t seek office in 2022

After initially denying the affair Tuesday, Merrill said Wednesday that he “clearly” had an inappropriate relationship.

Secretary of State at the announcement of his previous Senate campaign in 2019.

Secretary of State John Merrill announced on Wednesday that he would not seek any public office in 2022 and admitted in an AL.com interview to an extramarital affair. 

Merrill was expected to announce his candidacy for Alabama’s U.S. Senate seat, which will be vacated by the retiring of Sen. Richard Shelby. But on Tuesday, an obscure, far-right website published details of an affair Merrill had with a Montgomery woman, Cesaire McPherson. 

The website, National File, included an audio recording of an interview with McPherson, who went into graphic detail describing her numerous sexual encounters with Merrill. 

Late on Tuesday, Merrill released a statement denying the affair. In the statement, he called McPherson a stalker and said he had to block her on social media. But on Wednesday, McPherson provided AL.com with what is reported to be a recording of her and Merrill discussing some of their encounters and the physical acts they performed. 

After being played a portion of the audio, Merrill admitted to the affair and told the news outlet that he would not be seeking public office in 2022. 

“It’s clear that I had an inappropriate relationship with her, and it is not something that I am proud of or something that is something that — I’m very disappointed in myself. I’m also disappointed that I allowed my family to be embarrassed by this action,” he said. “And it’s something that I certainly will always regret because of the pain that it has caused my family.”

Merrill also said he hoped his mistakes could serve as a cautionary tale for others. 

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“I hope someone can use me as an example of how they have the opportunity to accomplish things, but because of poor choices and poor decisions in things, it can result in a negative impact for a lot of people that you did not intend to impact,” Merrill said. “That’s because I exercised poor choices and poor discipline. Maybe some good can come out of this for somebody else.”

Josh Moon
Written By

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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"Once again, Merrill’s actions demonstrate that it is not just the affair but the cover-up that lays a man low."

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A Montgomery woman provided graphic details of the affair in a story on an obscure, right-wing website.