Secretary of State John Merrill Won’t Run For Office Next Year, Acknowledges Affair

 1540615531 
1617885121
portrait of Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill

Spencer Williams, Alabama SOS Office

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill will not seek elected office in 2022. A statement about his political decision released Wednesday offered few details as to the reason. Later, he told al.com he had an “inappropriate relationship” with a woman outside of his marriage. 

Allegations of an affair first surfaced Tuesday on the right-wing website National File. In an interview, Cesaire McPherson, who was a legal assistant at a Montgomery law firm, described a multi-year affair with Merrill. McPherson provided screenshots of texts and audio recordings between her and Merrill. When asked about the allegations by al.com reporters, Merrill initially denied them. Reporters obtained an audio recording from McPherson of her discussing intimate sexual details with Merrill. After hearing the recording, the Secretary of State acknowledged the relationship.

John Merrill was first elected Secretary of State in 2014 and re-elected in 2018. He was preparing a run for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate following Sen. Richard Shelby’s announcement he would not run for a seventh term. Two candidates, Congressman Mo Brooks and former Trump Ambassador to Slovenia Linda Blanchard, are campaigning for the Republican nomination. Merrill previously ran for U.S. Senate in 2019 before dropping out. U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville ultimately won that race. 

Merrill’s office declined to comment beyond Wednesday’s statement. The secretary said in his statement he intends to serve out his term.

State Republican leaders have offered written statements in response to Merrill’s announcement. 

“It is always unfortunate when someone in public life, especially an elected official, betrays the trust of his family, his constituents and those who have supported him. My thoughts and prayers are with all who have been negatively impacted by these poor decisions and bad choices,” Gov. Kay Ivey said in a statement.

“We are watching this story unfold just as everyone else is,” Alabama Republican Party Chairman John Wahl said. “This is a terrible situation that has hurt many people. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those negatively affected by this.”

Cesaire McPherson told the National File website that Secretary Merrill used racist language in reference to African-Americans. The Alabama Democratic Party said Merrill’s affair is part of his personal life, but if the other allegations are true, he should apologize and resign.

Updated 2:30 p.m. Wednesday to include response from Merrill’s office

News from WBHM will never be behind a paywall. Ever. We need your help to keep our coverage free for everyone. Please consider supporting the news you rely on with a donation today. You can support our journalism for as little as $5. Every contribution, no matter the size, propels our vital coverage. Thank you.

 

3 things to watch for in the new Birmingham school board

With over half of its members new and millions of dollars in federal pandemic relief funding, the new Birmingham City school board is ready to tackle education with a fresh perspective. WBHM talked to incoming, outgoing and returning members about what Birmingham teachers, students and residents can expect.

Women will hold the majority on the Birmingham City Council over the next four years

Starting this Tuesday, the makeup of the Birmingham City Council changes when it swears in three new members.

Community leaders call for ‘fair maps’ ahead of special session on reapportionment

State legislators will meet Thursday for their second special session of the year. This time they'll vote on new legislative maps following the 2020 census.

WBHM selected to be part of America Amplified initiative

WBHM has been chosen as one of only 20 stations nationwide to be part of national initiative called America Amplified that prioritizes meaningful in-person and online engagement in order to build trust, expand audiences and deepen the impact of public media journalism.

COVID vaccines for young children could be approved soon. Are Gulf States prepared?

Kids between the ages of 5-11 years old might be able to get vaccinated in the near future. Here’s why it would be a game-changer for the Gulf States, and how they’re preparing for the shot’s rollout.

Birmingham takes part in Embrace Mothers guaranteed income pilot

Single-mother households represent about 60% of all Birmingham households with children, according to Mayor Randall Woodfin's office. The mothers involved in the program will receive $375 a month for a year.

More Front Page Coverage