U.S. Senator David Vitter
Former madam says Vitter was a client at Canal Street brothel
Posted by tortenzi July 10, 2007 9:18PM
By Kate Moran
Jeanette Maier, the madam known for operating a high-end brothel with her mother and daughter, said Tuesday that U.S. Sen. David Vitter made occasional visits to her business beginning in the mid-1990s after the two met at a fishing rodeo where she and her prostitutes were hired to entertain local politicians.
After the initial meeting, Maier said she saw Vitter at the bordello and knew him as someone who patronized her call girls. She denied having a personal relationship with him and said he had stopped visiting the establishment by the time it was raided by federal agents in 2001.
"Sometimes we'd cross paths," Maier said of their encounters at the house.
"He was not a big regular client that he's so clear in my mind that I can remember every time he walked in the door."
Vitter, a Republican, did not respond to numerous attempts to contact him for comment.
Maier's attorney, Vinny Mosca, cast doubt on her recollections Tuesday. He said investigators seized a list of client names, nicknames and phone numbers from the brothel, but those documents never implicated Vitter.
"Through all my association representing Jeanette in the case, his name never came up," Mosca said. "It's not on the list. He was not caught on the wiretaps. That doesn't mean he wasn't there, but in all this time I never knew him to be. To my knowledge he didn't go to the brothel."
Vitter this week became the first elected leader outed as a patron of the Washington escort service run by Deborah Palfrey, the so-called "D.C. Madam." He is the first elected official connected to Maier, known locally as the "Canal Street Madam." The only other clients named, a pair of Slidell businessmen, were charged for hiring prostitutes for a private cruise.
The senator apologized Monday night for a "very serious sin in my past" in connection with the Palfrey case, but he made no public appearances Tuesday.
Maier, 48, spoke openly about Vitter's patronage of the New Orleans brothel in an interview Tuesday, as she sat atop the king-sized bed in her Gretna home. The bedroom was decorated in a Southwestern motif, and a rosary hung from the headboard. She puffed on a cigarette as she talked.
She said she decided to name Vitter as a client because she was angry that the Washington allegations made him look like a one-dimensional adulterer, when she sees him as a "good man" who has helped the New Orleans area recover from Hurricane Katrina.
"All I wanted to get across when I saw the paper this morning is this bitch -- she calls herself a madam -- she's gonna throw this number out without a face, and without telling people what good he's done," Maier said, adding that the allegations would "just piss off his wife and create all this havoc in his life."
She said the women who worked in her brothel considered Vitter a decent man.
"I know he's not a drug addict," she said. "I know he's not a person that would down talk a woman. I know that he's respectful. I know from what I've seen that he is honorable, that he's a good man. His wife should be very proud of her husband irregardless of what he's done."
She added, "He was not a freak. He was not into anything unusual or kinky or weird."
Maier said he favored one prostitute named Wendy Cortez, though she was not sure if that was the woman's legal name. Many of the women use aliases with clients.
Maier confessed to working as a madam after agents raided her establishment, and a federal judge sentenced her in 2003 to six months in a halfway house and three years on probation. At the time, the judge chided prosecutors for pursuing the three women who ran the brothel -- Maier, her mother and her daughter, who also worked as a prostitute -- rather than the well-heeled men who frequented it.
That probation period has ended, and Maier is making soy candles and selling them at craft fairs. She is thinking of setting up erotic Web cameras to earn money because she says it is difficult to find a job with her felony record.
A television movie was made about the brothel case starring Annabella Sciorra, the actress who also played Tony Soprano's paramour Gloria Trillo on "The Sopranos." Maier is working as a consultant for a possible a television series about her story and hopes to do a book that will unmask some of the community leaders who supposedly visited her bordello. She said Vitter will not be named.
"I didn't want to put anyone I respected in the book," she said.
In the four years since her sentencing, Maier has kept mum about the names that investigators uncovered in her client list, although the subject was a topic of water-cooler speculation for years.
"I'm not out to ruin a marriage," she said. "I'm out to help a man. I want his wife to see what a wonderful man he is. Men do things like this by peer pressure, by the good ole boys club.
"I want his kids to know he's a good father," she continued. "Just because he had sex out of wedlock -- so what? At least he stayed with his kids. How many men leave their children and wives and don't give a shit what happens to them, and then their wives become prostitutes so they can feed their children?"
Vitter, 46, and his wife, Wendy, have four children ages 13 and under.
Martha Carr contributed to this report. Kate Moran can be reached at email@example.com or (504) 826-3491.
Larry Flynt and friends
Official statement from Larry Flynt
Republican Louisiana U.S. Senator David Vitter gives the thumbs up at his headquarters in Metairie, La. Bill Haber, AP
Larry Flynt catches another La. politician
Posted by tortenzi July 10, 2007 9:31PM
By Bruce Alpert and Bill Walsh
WASHINGTON -- Hustler Magazine is taking credit for forcing Sen. David Vitter, R-La., to admit that his phone number is on the 2001 records of clients of a woman accused in a federal indictment of running a prostitution ring.
At the time, Vitter, 46, was a member of the House of Representatives.
It marks the second time that Hustler, a sexually explicit magazine, played a role in revealing embarrassing information about a representative from Louisiana's 1st Congressional District.
Hustler editor and publisher Larry Flynt also claimed responsibility nearly nine years ago for getting former Rep. Bob Livingston, R-Metairie, to admit that he had extramarital affairs in the past. Livingston resigned from the House, giving up the role of speaker, which would have put him third in line for the presidency. Livingston resigned the same day the House voted to impeach President Clinton for lying about his relationship with a White House intern.
Flynt planned a news conference today to discuss the Vitter case.
Montgomery Blair Sibley, the attorney for the woman dubbed the "D.C. Madam," Deborah Jeane Palfrey, 51, said the only phone call connected by records to Vitter occurred Feb. 27, 2001, the same day that Vitter and other Republicans got details of newly elected President Bush's tax-cut plans during his first speech to a joint session of Congress.
Sibley said he knew of no other calls linked to Vitter, although he added many calls to Palfrey's operations came from phone numbers in which the caller can't be identified. Many came from Washington, D.C., area hotels, he said.
Sibley said investigators working for Palfrey plan to contact Vitter and ask him to be a defense witness when she goes to trial. Palfrey has said her employees, many college-educated women in their 20s, were instructed not to engage in sex with their customers, limiting their "services to escort duty" and perhaps sexually charged conversations.
"I expect in due course Jeane's investigators will be chatting with him," Sibley said.
Giuliani role in doubt
The revelation about Vitter's number appearing on Palfrey's phone list might cost the senator his job as Southern regional chairman for Rudy Giuliani's campaign for president.
NBC news reported Tuesday that Giuliani gave mixed messages during an appearance in New Hampshire, at first calling it a "a personal issue." The former Republican New York City mayor went on to say that he couldn't have achieved as much during his years as mayor and on the campaign if he didn't have people of good character working and supporting him.
"But," he added, "some people disappoint you," according to NBC.
Vitter, who missed a meeting Tuesday of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and a GOP policy luncheon, couldn't be reached for comment. For much of the day, there was a small cadre of reporters and camera operators sitting on the floor in front of his Senate office.
Sibley said Hustler had contacted Vitter sometime Monday morning, and the senator e-mailed his response to The Associated Press and The Times-Picayune on Monday about 8 p.m., in which he apologized for a "very serious sin in my past, for which I am, of course, completely responsible."
Combing through the list
It has been widely reported that several news organizations were looking over phone records from Palfrey's Pamela Martin and Associates. Sibley said the list had been shared with 10 media organizations and confirmed that it was Hustler that uncovered a number linked to Vitter.
Palfrey posted on her Internet site Tuesday a list of telephone records dating back "13 operational years of Pamela Martin & Associates." Palfrey said she did so out of fear that someone would alter a copy of the records given to some media organizations to wrongly name people who were not clients.
"The overall validity of the records' contents will be diminished when one false accusation after another begins to manifest," Palfrey wrote on her Web site.
Before the revelations about Vitter, the biggest name on the list, made public by ABC News, was a deputy secretary of state, who resigned after the disclosure. Vitter is the first member of Congress reported on the phone list.
Some of Vitter's Senate colleagues declined to comment Tuesday. But one prominent Republican, Sen. Pete Domenici of New Mexico, issued a strong defense.
"I've dealt with him a lot on issues and always found him to be a first-class individual," Domenici said in an interview. "I still consider him a first-class person."
State's GOP steps lightly
Prominent Louisiana Republicans reacted cautiously to the news as few details about Vitter's involvement with Palfrey's company were revealed. Shipbuilder Donald "Boysie" Bollinger, CEO of Bollinger Shipyards and a major GOP donor, said that if the revelations are the same that Vitter cited obliquely four years ago when he bowed out of the governor's race to work with a marriage counselor on his marriage, they will have little lasting impact.
"If it's old news, people will forgive him," Bollinger said. "If it's new, that's another matter."
One Louisiana Republican called for Vitter's resignation. Vincent Bruno, a member of the Louisiana Republican Central Committee, said he should follow the lead of Bob Livingston, who resigned at the height of the Clinton sex scandal after admitting an affair.
"The best thing he can do for himself, his family and the party is to do what Livingston did and resign," said Bruno, who for years has alleged sexual indiscretions by Vitter. "When you emphasize family values and attack other people for it, that is a little hypocritical. You either stand for family values or you do not. How do we excuse it?
Blanco 'very disappointed'
Gov. Kathleen Blanco, who has been sharply criticized by Vitter for her handling of recovery efforts since Hurricane Katrina, delivered a tough statement on her political nemesis.
"I am very disappointed at this news, and I hope and pray this does not hurt our efforts to secure the federal funding we need for the Road Home program," Blanco said. "I will travel to Washington in the coming weeks to continue my conversations with congressional leaders, and I hope this scandal will not lessen their critical support of our recovery."
Longtime friends of the family worried about the controversy's effect on Vitter's wife, Wendy, and their four children, the oldest of whom is set to begin high school in August.
Wendy Vitter joked in a 2000 interview with Newhouse News Service that she would be less understanding than either Bonnie Livingston, the wife of former Rep. Livingston, or Hillary Clinton, the wife of President Clinton, if her husband cheated.
"I'm a lot more like Lorena Bobbitt than Hillary," said Wendy Vitter, an attorney. "If he does something like that, I'm walking away with one thing, and it's not alimony, trust me."
Wendy Vitter later said the comment was tongue-in-cheek and that she and her husband have great trust in each other.
Bruce Alpert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or
(202) 383-7861. Bill Walsh can be reached at email@example.com or (202) 383-7817.
Hustler Magazine's call may have prompted Vitter's admission
Posted by NOLA.com July 10, 2007 1:33PM
A call from a pornographic magazine may have led to the admission by U.S. Senator David Vitter that his phone number is among those contained in phone records associated with an escort service.
ABC News reports in The Blotter reports that calls from Hustler magazine investigators Monday afternoon prompted the Louisiana senator to reveal the "very serious sin" in his past.
Vitter had five calls with D.C. Madam
Posted by Keith I. Marszalek July 11, 2007 7:57PM
Calls began soon after he was sworn in, ended on Mardi Gras 2001.
By Bill Walsh
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.
Records show that the return calls to Vitter's number generally lasted a minute or two and were placed in the evening. The phone number had a Washington, D.C., exchange. Vitter keeps an apartment in Washington where he stays while Congress is in session.
Vitter has limited his public statements to a contrite press release Monday night in which he said, "Several years ago, I asked for and received forgiveness from God and my wife in confession and marriage counseling."
Vitter's statement came a few hours after Hustler Magazine called his congressional office to confront him with the news that they had found his phone number appeared once in Palfrey's billing records.
"We called him for comment and he left through the back door," Hustler publisher Larry Flynt said in a phone interview Wednesday from his office in Beverly Hills.
Flynt said that Vitter isn't the only lawmaker whose number appears in the phone records that Palfrey placed on the Internet on Monday. He said 30 members of Congress are on the list and he plans to make them public, although he didn't say when.
"It should be a very interesting political year," Flynt said.
The self-promoting pornography publisher, who has described his techniques as "bottom feeding," has been known to exaggerate before. In 1998, he promised to expose illicit sexual affairs carried on by numerous Republican members of Congress who were prosecuting President Clinton for lying about his liaisons with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Flynt's efforts claimed only one victim: then Rep. Bob Livingston, R-Metairie.
His threat to expose the adulterous affairs by Livingston prompted the veteran congressman to bow out of the race for House speaker and resign from Congress. Those revelations came after Flynt took out an ad in the Washington Post offering up to $1 million to anyone who can prove a sexual relationship with a member of Congress.
"We're trying to get rid of some of the hypocrisy that is the biggest threat to our democracy," Flynt said, noting that his prime targets are politicians who support socially conservative policies. "I can't see letting someone like Livingston live a double life."
Flynt recently took out a similar ad offering up to $1 million for information about the illicit affairs of Congress. But he said it wasn't the ad that exposed Vitter.
Flynt credited Washington, D.C., investigative journalist Dan Moldea for unearthing the Livingston story as well as ferreting out Vitter's phone number from the 59,120 calls listed in the pages of Palfrey's billing statements. He said Moldea spotted the number Friday after "multiple reverse searches." It was Moldea and Hustler assistant managing editor Mark Johnson who placed calls to Vitter's office Monday about 5 p.m. Eastern Time, he said.
The Times-Picayune's search of Palfrey's phone records found a phone number that an Internet search showed was assigned to Vitter several years ago. The number showed up in the call lists on Oct. 12, 1999, Sept. 18, 2000, Oct. 26, 2000,
Feb. 11, 2001 and Feb. 27, 2001.
The first call appears a little more than four months after Vitter was sworn in June 8, 1999, to replace Livingston and just days before Vitter held his first Town Hall meeting in his district. The October 2000 call came a week and a half before he would coast to his first election for the full House term.
The last came on the day newly elected President Bush unveiled his proposed tax cuts to Congress and days after Vitter filed legislation restricting who could prescribe the abortion drug RU-486. All of the calls were placed late afternoon Pacific Time. Palfrey ran her call girl operation from California.
Despite his record of exposing Louisiana politicians, Flynt said at an afternoon press conference that he wasn't targeting the state. But he noted the coincidence that Livingston was succeeded in the House by Vitter.
"We have nothing against Louisiana," he said. "It just seems to be your day in the barrel."
Richard Russell contributed to this story. Bill Walsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 383-7817.
• AP video: D.C. Madam called Vitter during house votes
• Prostitute describes Vitter affair | See photos
• AP: Vitter to return to Senate Tuesday, colleague says
• AP: Scandal goes partisan in Louisiana
• TP graphic: Phone records for Sen. David Vitter
• Full phone list from D.C. Madam (165 meg)
• Senator unlikely to face criminal charges
• Flynt snags Vitter | Statement | Audio | ABC26
"D.C. Madam" Seeks Federal Handout
Palfrey wants $500,000 from court to hire private attorney
MARCH 29--Citing "irreconcilable personal and professional differences" between herself and her court appointed public defender, former Washington, D.C. madam Deborah Palfrey is now asking the court to hand over $500,000 for her to hire a private attorney. In a motion filed today in U.S. District Court, Palfrey claims to have already met with a number of attorneys about handling her defense with their price tag running "between $150,000 to $300,000 in fees" as well as another "$100,000 to $200,000 in investigatory fees." The bulk of the investigation money would be slated toward tracking down information about the phone records she claims to have kept on 15,000 johns and prostitutes. Palfrey, 51, was indicted earlier this month on money laundering charges stemming from her operation of the Pamela Martin & Associates escort service, which closed last summer after 13 years in business. She was previously convicted of operating a prostitution business in California and spent 18 months in prison where the above mug shot was snapped. (3 pages)