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article imageSenator Vitter's 'sin' with prostitutes leads to bar complaint

By Kay Mathews     Oct 1, 2009 in Politics
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a bar complaint against Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) for professional misconduct rooted in his admitted engagement of prostitutes. CREW seeks to hold him "accountable."
The bar complaint filed with the Louisiana Office of Disciplinary Counsel by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) alleges that Senator David Vitter (R-LA) violated Louisiana’s rules of professional conduct for lawyers.
The complaint is in reference to the "D.C. Madam" case in which Vitter's telephone number was among the madam's list of clients.
The “D.C. Madam,” Deborah Jeane Palfrey, committed suicide shortly after her trial and conviction. Thirteen former prostitutues testified at Palfrey's trial including one woman who was both a Naval Academy instructor and Navy supply officer who later lost her job with the U.S. Navy.
Vitter confirmed in 2007 that "he had sought Ms. Palfrey's services and said in a statement, 'this was a very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible'" according to CREW.
CREW executive director Melanie Sloan stated in a CREW document:
[The Naval officer] lost her job because the Navy requires those who serve 'to adhere to a standard of conduct that reflects the Navy’s values of honor, courage and commitment.' It is a shame the Senate has no such standard of conduct. It will be interesting to see what sort of standard the Louisiana Disciplinary Board chooses to apply.
Previously, CREW filed a complaint against Sen. Vitter with the Senate Ethics Committee for his involvement with the "D.C. Madam," along with allegations from other women indicating that Vitter "engaged the services of prostitutes." Moreover, CREW cites allegations from the "Canal Street Madam," Jeannette Maier, who claimed Vitter patronized her New Orleans brothel a number of times in the mid-1990s. Lastly, CREW said a prostitute working under the street name of Wendy Cortez "said Sen. Vitter was a regular client of hers between July and November 1999."
The Senate Ethics Committee dismissed CREW's complaint against Vitter without action in Sept. 2008.
Sloan stated in a Sept. 29, 2009 CREW document:
Sen. Vitter’s zeal to see ACORN criminally investigated for offering advice in setting up a prostitution ring reminded me he has yet to be held accountable for his own role in a prostitution ring. While ACORN’s conduct is indefensible, so is Sen. Vitter’s and what is good for the goose is good for the gander.
CREW's bar complaints center around Louisiana Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4(b) which "provides it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to 'commit a criminal act especially one that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects.'"
According to CREW, "By repeatedly committing the crime of soliciting for prostitution, Sen. Vitter violated the rules of professional conduct for lawyers and should be investigated and disciplined for his misconduct."
CREW is a 501(c)3 organization based in Washington, D.C. that "targets government officials who sacrifice the common good to special interests through high-impact legal actions."
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