Monday, July 9, 2007

Shades of Jimmy Swaggart!

Republican Senator David Vitter's endorsement of thrice-married Rudy Guilliani for the GOP presidential nomination raised some eyebrows among the senator's rock-ribbed, anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-constitution crowd.

A bit of the reason came out today when it was revealed that then-Congressman Vitter's phone number was one of those calling a Washington prostitution ring — er, uh, escort service.

Here's the lead of the Associated Press story as it appeared in the Washington Post tonight:

WASHINGTON -- Sen. David Vitter, R-La., apologized Monday night for "a very serious sin in my past" after his telephone number appeared among those associated with an escort service operated by the so-called "D.C. Madam."

Vitter's spokesman, Joel Digrado, confirmed the statement in an e-mail sent to The Associated Press.

"This was a very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible," Vitter said in the statement. "Several years ago, I asked for and received forgiveness from God and my wife in confession and marriage counseling. Out of respect for my family, I will keep my discussion of the matter there _ with God and them. But I certainly offer my deep and sincere apologies to all I have disappointed and let down in any way."

The statement containing Vitter's apology said his telephone number was on old phone records of Pamela Martin and Associates before he ran for the Senate.

Deborah Jeane Palfrey was accused in federal court of racketeering by running a prostitution ring that netted more than $2 million over 13 years, beginning in 1993. She contends, however, that her escort service, Pamela Martin and Associates, was a legitimate business.

Vitter, 46, a Republican in his first Senate term, was elected to the Senate in 2004. He represented Louisiana's 1st Congressional District in the House from 1999 to 2004.

Vitter and his wife, Wendy, live in Metairie, La., with their four children.

Palfrey's attorney, Montgomery Blair Sibley, told the AP, "I'm stunned that someone would be apologizing for this." He said Palfrey had posted the phone numbers of her escort service's clients online Monday, but he did not know whether Vitter's number was among them.

Vitter's statement was sent to the AP's New Orleans bureau Monday evening. As of late Monday night, the AP has been unable to connect to Palfrey's Web site.

Now, it's important to note that the source of the phone number (and, thus, Vitter's connection to this alledged prostitution ring) is the woman who is accused of running the service. She's doing this as part of her defense.

There were rumors earlier in this decade, also while Vitter was serving in Congress that linked him to the Canal Street Bordello story. But that case was handled by U.S. Attorney Jim Letten's office and the list of customers never saw the light of day (and Letten still has his job).

So, this is quite possibly Vitter's second brush with a prostitution ring. That alone puts him up in the running with Jimmy Swaggart as Louisiana's Most Prominent Busted John.

Then there's the matter of his ties with Jack Abramoff. Vitter's Senate campaign received help from Abramoff in return for the Congressman helping Abramoff and Ralph Reed fan anti-casino fever in Louisiana against the Jena Choctaw Tribe's quest for a casino (using, of course, Indian casino money to work their magic).

At what point does Vitter begin to lose his claim to reformer status in the main stream media?

He's now heading up an operation that is a collection of thus-far unindicted Republican fat-cats who have as their current venture the taking over of the Louisiana House of Representatives. And, yes, they're making ethics a big part of their push! No doubt family values will be on the platform, too!

And, isn't that sweet? Wendy Vitter has the cover letter invitation to join the group! Could she be getting a cut of the money as the price for sticking around?

In the unlikely event that Vitter would seek an honorable end to this farce, an example has already been set:

Randall Tobias, a senior official in the State Department, resigned in April after ABC News confronted him about his use of the escort service. He admitted that he had hired women to come to his Washington condo and give him massages but denied that he had sex with the escorts.

The Associated Press report indicates that Vitter was keeping good company:

Contending that her escort service was legal, Palfrey revealed details of its operation on ABC's news magazine "20/20" on May 4. At the time, ABC said it could not link any information provided by Palfrey to members of Congress or White House officials but did find links to prominent business executives, NASA officials and at least five military officers.

At least it can't be said that Vitter's 'gone Washington' on us. Nope, he was practicing the values he'd learned back home.

July 10 morning update: Firedoglake has some great stuff to add to the Vitter hypocrisy pyre here.


Kevin said...

Great stuff! I'm out of New Orleans and I was wondering if you could tell how to get info on when Vitter is in my area. I video for people like Vitter(screw ups). and some public events to. Do you have any info?

Mike Stagg said...

Sorry, Kevin, Senator Vitter does not appear to be keeping a public schedule these days.

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