Monday, July 09, 2007

"I Have Sinned," Says Senator David Vitter

The phone number of Louisiana's Senator to the U.S. Congress, David Vitter, turns up in D.C. Madam's phone records.

David Vitter, his wife Wendy, with Jack, one of their four children.

The Washington Post reports:
Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) apologized last night after his telephone number appeared in the phone records of the woman dubbed the "D.C. Madam," making him the first member of Congress to become ensnared in the high-profile case.

The statement containing Vitter's apology said his telephone number was included on phone records of Pamela Martin and Associates dating from before he ran for the Senate in 2004.
The service's proprietor, Deborah Jeane Palfrey, 51, faces federal charges of racketeering for allegedly running a prostitution ring out of homes and hotel rooms in the Washington area. Authorities say the business netted more than $2 million over 13 years beginning in 1993. Palfrey contends that her escort service was a legitimate business.

"This was a very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible," Vitter, 46, said in a statement, which his spokesman, Joel DiGrado, confirmed to the Associated Press.

"Several years ago, I asked for and received forgiveness from God and my wife in confession and marriage counseling," Vitter continued. "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."

Neither Palfrey nor her attorney, Montgomery Blair Sibley, could be reached for comment last night. Sibley told the Associated Press that his client posted the phone records of her escort service on the Internet yesterday, four days after a federal judge lifted a restraining order preventing their publication. The records were included in a series of files on a Web site devoted to Palfrey's legal defense fund.

"I'm stunned that someone would be apologizing for this already," Sibley said.

Vitter is in his first Senate term after serving six years in the House. During his Senate campaign, Vitter was accused by a member of the Louisiana Republican State Central Committee of carrying on a lengthy affair with a prostitute in New Orleans's French Quarter.

In a radio interview, Vitter called the allegation "absolutely and completely untrue" and dismissed it as "just crass Louisiana politics."

Vitter was the first senator to endorse former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and serves as the campaign's Southern regional chairman. A reliable conservative vote in the Senate, Vitter was among a small group of GOP lawmakers who sought to block an immigration overhaul from advancing last month.

Vitter and his wife, Wendy, a former prosecutor, have four children. On his Senate Web site, Vitter says he is committed to "advancing mainstream conservative principles" and notes that he has his wife are lectors at their hometown church.

Vitter attended Harvard University and was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University. He won a convincing victory in 2004, easily defeating two Democrats with a slim majority of the vote, to succeed John Breaux (D).

Palfrey, 51, titillated national media this spring by threatening to auction her list of clients' phone numbers to the highest bidder. She said she needed the money to pay legal expenses, but in May U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler ordered Palfrey to keep the records to herself.

That move came after Palfrey and Sibley had turned over a sizable portion of the 10,000 phone records to ABC News. One client contacted by ABC reporters was Randall L. Tobias, a deputy secretary of state, who said he used Palfrey's escort service for massages, not for sex.

A day later, on April 27, Tobias resigned from the State Department, reigniting the media firestorm over Palfrey's records. That was seemingly snuffed out by Kessler's temporary restraining order two weeks later, but Kessler vacated her order on Thursday, clearing the way for Palfrey to post the records online.

Pamela Martin and Associates hired college-educated women in their 20s, sending them to male clients in the Washington area who, according to authorities, paid $275 to $300 per sexual encounter. Palfrey said that, so far as she knew, her employees and clients engaged in legal sex play -- such as erotic role-playing.

Elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004, Vitter voted for the Marriage Protection Act in 2006. He was a co-sponsor of H.J. Res. 56, a constitutional amendment declaring that marriage in the U.S. shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman.
"This is a real outrage. The Hollywood left is redefining the most basic institution in human history, and our two U.S. Senators won't do anything about it. We need a U.S. Senator who will stand up for Louisiana values, not Massachusetts's values. I am the only Senate candidate to co-author the Federal Marriage Amendment; the only one fighting for its passage. I am the only candidate proposing changes to the senate rules to stop liberal obstructionists from preventing an up or down vote on issues like this, judges, energy, and on and on."

On June 21, 2007, Vitter authored a letter to the chairman and ranking member of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee expressing support for reauthorization of the Title V Abstinence Education Program of the Social Security Act, in which he wrote:
...Abstinence education is a public health strategy focused on risk avoidance that aims to help young people avoid exposure to harm. These programs have been shown to effectively reduce the risks of out-of-wedlock pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases by teaching teenagers that saving sex until marriage and remaining faithful afterwards is the best choice for health and happiness...

Vitter is a rabid opponent of women's reproductive rights.

In 2003, when he was in the House of Representatives, Vitter forced a rider into the Labor/HHS/Education Appropriations Bill disqualifying any agencies that provide abortion services (such as Planned Parenthood) from receiving grants or contracts under the Title X (family) planning program.

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