David Vitter hooker shocker: New John Bel Edwards spot raises new questions

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By Robert Mann

On the evening of Monday, Feb. 25, 1991, only five hours before Baghdad Radio would tell Iraqi troops to begin withdrawing from Kuwait, all hell rained down on a U.S. Army barracks in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. It was, as the New York Times described it the next day, “the most devastating Iraqi stroke of the Persian Gulf war.” An Iraqi Scud missile struck the barracks, killing 28 Americans and wounding 100 more.

The barracks had been home to the 475th Quartermaster Group, an Army Reserve unit from the small western Pennsylvania town of Farrell.

Reading the grisly details of that night’s events still evokes horror and grief. Here is how New York Times reporter R.W. Apple, Jr., described the aftermath in his Feb. 26, 1991, story, “This morning, under the pitiless glare of portable floodlights, excavating equipment began plowing through the blackened remains of the building. Servicemen joined in the search for the missing, using picks and shovels, as some of the survivors milled about. Many wept.”

Fast-forward ten years to February 27, 2001: On the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives members were preparing to host President George W. Bush, who would deliver his State of the Union address that evening.

Before hearing from Bush, however, the House had some business to conclude – considering a resolution “honoring the ultimate sacrifice” made by those killed and wounded that horrible day 10 years earlier. When the votes were tallied at 5:27 p.m., the resolution passed overwhelmingly, 395-0.

Thirty-five members, however, did not vote that afternoon. Among them was U.S. Rep. David Vitter, a Republican from suburban New Orleans serving his second term.

Vitter may have missed this vote because he waiting on a return call from an escort service based in California that sold the services of women in the Washington, D.C., area. As his colleagues and constituents would later learn, Vitter was a regular customer of the escort service. In July 2007, the New Orleans Times-Picayune would report:

A phone number for Sen. David Vitter, R-La., appears at least five times in the billing records of what federal authorities say was a Washington call-girl operation, the first just four months after he was sworn in to the U.S. House in 1999 and the last on Mardi Gras of 2001.

Under pressure earlier this week, Vitter acknowledged committing a “very serious sin” and that his number showed up in the records of Deborah Jeane Palfrey, who has come to be known as the “Washington, D.C. Madam.” An attorney for Palfrey earlier said that Vitter’s number was found once in the records, but a search of the documents by The Times-Picayune turned up four more calls to a number once registered to Vitter. The attorney said that clients also used phones in hotel rooms, so that not all the numbers can be traced to individual callers.

The records show that Vitter number was called by Palfrey’s service beginning Oct. 12, 1999 and ending Feb. 27, 2001, which was Mardi Gras. Palfrey has said she was running an escort service that her employees were instructed not to engage in sex acts. But federal prosecutors say she was running a prostitution ring that netted more than $2 million in assets.

Where, exactly, was Vitter when the House voted that afternoon to honor these fallen soldiers? That’s not clear and Vitter and his staff steadfastly refuse to respond to questions about his 2007 prostitution scandal. During his run for Louisiana governor this year (he’s in a Nov. 21 runoff with Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards), Vitter has been asked about the scandal only one time by a journalist. He refused to answer the question and the Baton Rouge station that employed the reporter promptly fired him.

Palfrey cannot answer questions about her Feb. 27 phone call to Vitter. She committed suicide in 2008 after her conviction in federal court on charges of money laundering, using the mail for illegal purposes and racketeering.

Continue reading on Salon.com at this link.

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3 Responses to David Vitter hooker shocker: New John Bel Edwards spot raises new questions

  1. Fredster says:

    How is Vitter going to deny it or even try?

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  2. Stephen Winham says:

    From the first time I saw it, I believed this ad was a bad move. JBE needs to distance himself from it. His positive ads have been great. This one diminishes his positive image and gives Vitter, if he does try to defend himself, an opportunity to seize the high ground. The people to whom these ads appeal don’t make the distinction (if one actually exists) between PACs and direct candidate campaign commercials.

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    • Bob in BR says:

      I totally agree with you Stephen. Edwards distinction in ads have been taking the high road. To now run this lowers him to Vitter’s level even though they are true. After all, other than the actual vote this is old news for voters unless they’ve lived under a rock for eight years. I know I cringed when I read they were doing this and I hope it doesn’t hurt an otherwise high class campaign.

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