Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning
"I start from the supposition that the world is topsy-turvey, that things are all wrong, that the wrong people are in jail and the wrong people are out of jail, that the wrong people are in power and the wrong people out of power, that the wealth is distributed in this country and in the world in such a way as not simply to require small reform but a drastic reallocation...." Howard Zinn, "The Problem is Civil Obedience" (1970) from Voices of a People's History of the United States
Here, at The BRAD BLOG, we've spent a good deal of time addressing the duplicity of convicted federal criminal James O'Keefe and his employer Andrew Breitbart, a pathological liar, whose bogus ACORN pimp hoax proved the undoing of a benevolent community organization, ACORN.
While Breitbart received his comeuppance when he made the mistake of attempting a dishonest smear of a woman, Shirley Sherrod, who would not go quietly into the night in the face of the hard-right's distortion of her words, David Vitter (R-LA), the hard-right's Senate point man in its effort to destroy democracy and verifiable truth by smearing and then defunding ACORN is sailing towards re-election despite links to hookers and to an aide, Brent Furer, who plead guilty to an assault in which he held a knife to his girlfriend's throat and stabbed her in her hand --- Furer allegedly held her against her will for 90 minutes and threatened to kill her.
Now, comes a revelation that Vitter not only kept Furer on his taxpayer-funded payroll while tasking the girlfriend-assaulting Furer with overseeing women's issues, but that U.S. taxpayers footed the bill for the convicted Furer's travel to appear in court on the assault charge and on a DUI...
Serial Hooker Chaser?
In July 2007 Vitter's name surfaced on the published list of the phone records of Deborah Jean Palfrey (aka "The DC Madam"). The records reveal that Palfrey telephoned Vitter five times while he was a member of the House, including two calls he received while roll call votes were underway.
Unable to deny the stone cold records, Vitter said:
Vitter also said he'd "received forgiveness from God."
Now, as an atheist, I don't feel all that qualified to speak to "sin" or "forgiveness from God." As an attorney, however, I will note that solicitation of prostitution is a crime in Washington D.C.
Where Vitter never faced criminal charges for this admitted crime, the woman on the other end of those calls, the DC Madam, was "convicted on April 15, 2008 of racketeering, using the mail for illegal purposes, and money laundering. Slightly over two weeks later, facing a prison sentence of five or six years, she was found hanged," an apparent suicide.
Equal justice under law?
After the DC Madam story broke, Jeanette Maier (aka the "Canal Street Madam"), stepped forward, claiming that, beginning in 1990, Vitter began using the services of her establishment at a cost of $300/hour. (No incriminating phone records or "God forgave me" confession from Vitter on that one).
Solicitation of prostitution is also a crime in Louisiana.
Vitter in Defense of Abusers of Women
It should probably not be all that surprising that a man who solicits prostitutes does not hold women in high regard. Several aspects about Vitter, however, suggest nothing less than contempt towards women.
The first arose when Vitter decided not only to retain Furer as a taxpayer funded aide after it was revealed that Furer had placed a knife to the throat of his girlfriend, but that Vitter placed Furer in charge of overseeing women's issues for his office. Worse, according to the Washington Monthly, Vitter lied when confronted with the fact that he'd assigned Furer to work on women's issues.
And looking specifically at the dates on the materials, Furer was still listed in that capacity after Vitter learned of his aide's violent attack against his ex-girlfriend.
Beth Meeks, executive director of the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, worked with Vitter's office on domestic violence legislation, and was "personally informed that Furer was Vitter's point man on the issue."
Now, we learn that Vitter not only kept this woman abuser on his taxpayer payroll but, in the words of Vitter's anticipated Democratic opponent in the general election, Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-LA) (see video below), Furer's position in Vitter's office led to a form of "Con Air" in which Furer traveled from Washington to Louisiana for his court appearances at taxpayer's expense.
Vitter then solidified his contempt for issues surrounding the abuse of women when, according to his Wikipedia entry, he opposed an amendment to the 2010 Defense Appropriations bill offered by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) which forbade "federal contractors from forcing victims of sexual assault, battery and discrimination to submit to binding arbitration." Franken offered the amendment after "Jamie Leigh Jones...alleged...she was drugged and gang-raped by employees of Halliburton/KBR." The amendment passed 68 to 30. Every female Republican voted for it.
Vitter also voted "against equal pay for equal work [and] coverage for mammograms."
Hypocrisy on Parade: Vitter's Spurious Smears of ACORN
Long before the phony pimp scandal broke, there was Vitter in Feb. 2009, seeking to prevent any of the stimulus monies from flowing to ACORN.
In the face of burgeoning evidence of Wall Street scamming of the entire mortgage market through the bundling of securities into credit default swaps, there was Vitter, in typical right-wing, “blame-the-victim” strategy, blathering away about ACORN’s alleged role in sub-prime mortgages and claiming “ACORN has been guilty of egregious fraud” in relation to alleged “fraudulent voter registrations submitted by ACORN.”
Vitter repeated the "voter registration fraud" claim when he introduced an amendment to defund ACORN in the wake of the now-infamous, but phony ACORN "Pimp" Hoax.
But, as we reported in The Real Targets of the ACORN Smear Campaigns: Verifiable Truth, American Democracy:
The hooker-chasing Vitter had no qualms about protecting the likes of KBR, a company not only accused by Pentagon auditors of massive fraud but of shoddy work, which, according to the Department of Defense's Inspector General, led to the electrocution deaths of eighteen U.S. soldiers and contractors serving in Iraq. I mean why would you want to allow a woman who might have been gang-raped while in KBR's employ to have her day in court?
Yes, we can see why this model-of-virtue Republican Senator felt it critical to cut-off funds to an organization which aids our society's less fortunate in housing and voter registration. The fact that the people ACORN assisted are unlikely to vote Republican didn't have anything to do with your defunding efforts, did it Mr. Vitter?
U.S. Politics: Money Trumps Morals
With scandals lapping at his heels, with his Republican opponent, Chet D. Traylor, a retired Associate Justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court, you would think that Vitter would have trouble just getting past the Aug. 28 Republican primary --- and you would be wrong.
How is that you ask? Simple. Money! Over the last election cycle, Vitter has amassed a campaign war chest of more than $11 million. Justice Traylor raised a paltry $42,000.
As I explained in Citizens United: A Case Which Will Live in Infamy, the unlimited right for corporations to fund campaigns, coupled with the corporate media's substance deficit disorder, creates the "ability [to] drown out the right of citizens to see and hear those who do not tow the corporate line."
Not satisfied with his whopping monetary advantage, Vitter threatened to sue radio stations that ran a Traylor ad which mentions Vitter's "past conduct with women." The ad "talks about Vitter’s alleged battery of a woman and of the arrest of the senator’s former aide, Brent Furer."
Rep. Charlie Melanchon (D-LA) "Con Air" campaign video follows...
Ernest A. Canning has been an active member of the California state bar since 1977. Mr. Canning has received both undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science as well as a juris doctor. He is also a Vietnam vet (4th Infantry, Central Highlands 1968).