Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill issued a statement late Tuesday evening denying allegations that he was involved in an extramarital affair.
Merrill was responding to a story on an obscure, right-wing website called NationalFile, which contained an interview (including audio) with a Montgomery woman named Cesaire McPherson. In that interview, McPherson made a number of sordid accusations regarding a 16-month affair between herself and Merrill, going into very specific details about physical acts and providing dates and locations. She also accused Merrill of making racist comments.
In a lengthy denial, Merrill, who is married, refuted all of McPherson’s claims, calling her a stalker who he had to block on social media.
“Beginning in 2019, this woman began texting and communicating with me through social media,” Merrill wrote. “While we exchanged texts and she even visited the office, it was clear she had other intentions that were bordering on obsession. I alerted my wife, Cindy, to this and we both agreed to cut off any and all communication with her.
“When I cut off communication, she began harassing my staff at all hours of the day. She even began stalking me at multiple locations, which eventually led to her locating my Montgomery residence, and sending threatening messages to me that foretold the lies she would make up about my marital life if I did not keep talking to her.”
Merrill said that he has retained a copy of one message that McPherson sent him, in which she admits that she was “making up marital allegations” and states that she would never have a relationship with Merrill. He has offered to provide a copy of that message to the media.
The story — true or not — appears to be the first shot across the bow in what promises to be a contentious fight for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by the retiring Sen. Richard Shelby. So far, only Mo Brooks and Lynda Blanchard have announced their campaigns for the spot, but Merrill has told supporters that he plans to run. His candidacy would likely be more of a threat to Blanchard.
In his statement, Merrill vowed to remain in office and said the allegations would not deter his future plans.