Vitter Outed in D.C. Madam Scandal
David Vitter, a conservative from Louisiana, was the first Member of Congress outed by the infamous “D.C. Madam.”
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.
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.
Frankly, I don’t care how much praying they’ve done or how much they’ve turned away from sin or gives to their church. Nor, really, is hypocrisy here that big an issue. The real question, it seems to me, is why any of this is illegal.
Palfrey claims there are “up to 15,000 names” on the list. Many of them, given the nature and location of the business in question, are public figures of some magnitude and most of them people who will be embarrassed by the revelations. The only reason the names are coming out is because a criminal investigation has shut down the enterprise and left Palfrey and others with large legal bills.
For what, exactly?
We’re not talking here about impoverished runaways being forced into a crude life walking the streets and selling their bodies by cruel fate. Nobody’s pimp is beating them up. These are college educated women making an informed choice about how to make a living. Given the prices that have been bandied about, their clients aren’t victims, either. And, considering how long the business was in operation, they apparently weren’t even creating a nuisance in the neighborhood.
Surely, there are more substantial problems in the District of Columbia than well-off people deciding to exchange money for sex?
UPDATE: RealClear Politics is sponsoring a debate under the clever title, DID SENATOR VITTER GET SCREWED?
This post is featured along with:
- Balloon Juice: “I think in general that it’s silly to criminalize prostitution, but as long as legislators see fit to ban it for the rest of us they have a certain responsibility to respect the ban themselves.”
- DownWithTyranny: “The man is a putrid hypocrite and a typically divisive Republican phony-baloney.”
- TBogg: “Making the two-backed sanctimonious Republican is kind of a tradition in the First District.”
UPDATE: Stacy McCain, who has an excellent roundup of reactions to this story, wonders if these college educated women “reported their careers in the alumni newsletter?”
I’m guessing not. While my stance on how the state should treat these matters is libertarian, my social reaction is decidedly conservative. As Chris Rock observed, if your daughter grows up to be a stripper, you’ve pretty much failed as a father.