Friday, September 21, 2007

An Open Letter to Barbara Boxer, Chair of the Senate Ethics Committee: Start Investigating Senator David Vitter

Dear Senator Boxer:

I'm concerned that you're not investigating Senator David Bruce Vitter of Louisiana. Senator Vitter would not be serving on a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee if it had been known that he had frequented the escort service of Deborah Jeane Palfrey (as we all know, he called her Pamela Martin & Associates five-times during 1999-2001, as well as other possible liaisons of some sort in New Orleans). This is troubling, and inaction isn't excusable. Senator Boxer, take a casual-glance at recent public opinion polls: Congress is experiencing the lowest approval-ratings in almost the entirety of its history. They are even lower than that of the president. The "whys" are simple--you aren't following the will of the American people. We want an end to the war, and we want George W. Bush and his criminal administration brought to justice. We also want accountability within the halls of Congress, and we're going to get it in time.

While the 9/11 hijackers were plotting their attacks, the FBI appears to have been busy watching, recording, and babysitting then-Representative David Vitter when he frequented the establishment of one Jeanette Maier--aka "The Canal Street Madam." It's possible that the FBI was also babysitting other GOP incumbents in New Orleans through questionable surveillance, and that this could also be the case with Ms. Deborah Jeane Palfrey's firm and her own peculiar legal predicament. But for the reasons of transparency and accountability, all of these surveillance logs should be declassified in toto. The public has a right to know.

For this reason--and because Senator Vitter's oversight of USAID's Randall L. Tobias was incomplete--it's time for a real investigation into Vitter's actions during the period found in the phone records of Pamela Martin & Associates (1999-2001 inclusive, though it could extend further). The fact that Vitter and Mr. Tobias are both found in the records is very troubling, and suggests the possibility of other improprieties by the two, possibly in-collusion in some manner. He has all-but-admitted to committing repeated crimes involving infidelities with other women, though the true extent of this is still unclear. It won't be an easy job investigating Senator Vitter. Your Republican colleagues on the Ethics Committee are likely to tip him and the Republican leadership off to the particulars of any inquiry, and they cannot generally be trusted to follow the rule of law as members of their party. They have illustrated this time-and-time-again in recent years.

But it's extremely likely that David Vitter has violated various District of Columbia statutes (and Louisiana's code), which would have impaired his ability to serve on the Foreign Relations subcommittee, even when prostitution was not part of the picture. We need to know more about his activities while serving as a member of Congress. What's clear--although the statute of limitations likely applies in the 1999-2001 liasons with women--is that Senator Vitter violated the DC code on adultery, § 22-201:

Whoever commits adultery in the District shall, on conviction thereof, be punished by a fine not exceeding $500, or by imprisonment not exceeding 180 days, or both; and when the act is committed between a married person and a person who is unmarried both parties to such act shall be deemed guilty of adultery.

Granted, the law is rarely enforced, but perhaps this is because D.C. prostitution statutes are thought to cover this area of misbehavior more adequately. Only it appears they do not--clients are usually given a light-punishment, while sex workers receive the full-force of the law. This is gender inequality, something that I assume concerns you as a woman. All of this underscores the senator's own questionable morality, and is part of a very sick culture in Washington (and throughout our nation).

As far as we can tell, David Vitter may have violated this "adultery statute" five-times, aside from what could also be charges of frequenting women for the purposes of prostitution. The fact is, there are more-than-sufficient indications that an investigation into Senator David Bruce Vitter is in order, and it should be done in as objective and an even-handed manner as possible. It should already have begun, and I hope that it has. He's hardly alone in Washington in his misbehaviors, and it's time to start some genuine, radical reform. Any investigations into these areas should be aggressive and done in a timely manner.

respectfully yours, Matt Janovic, private citizen