Sunday, July 15, 2007

US Republican Senator Sorry For DC Madam 'Sin'

Taken from The Times, UK, July 10, 2007
By David Byers and agencies

A God-fearing Republican Senator has apologised for "a very serious sin" after becoming the first member of the US Congress to be discovered on the telephone records of the woman dubbed DC Madam, who is alleged to have run one of Washington's biggest prostitution rings.

Senator David Vitter, a married father of four who represents Louisiana, issued a statement saying he had "asked for and received forgiveness from God" after his telephone number appeared among those associated with the service of Pamela Martin and Associates.

The company's proprietor, Deborah Jeane Palfrey, 51, is currently facing federal charges of racketeering for allegedly running a prostitution ring out of homes and hotel rooms in the Washington area, which is believed to have netted her more than $2 million over 13 years from 1993.

Senator David Vitter, pictured in March 2005. He apologised for "a very serious sin" today

Deborah Jeane Palfrey reading a statement after a hearing at the Federal Court House in Washington, DC

“This was a very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible,” Mr Vitter said, in the statement issued to the Associated Press news agency today. “Several years ago, I asked for and received forgiveness from God and my wife in confession and marriage counselling.

Out of respect for my family, I will keep my discussion of the matter there - with God and them. But I certainly offer my deep and sincere apologies to all I have disappointed and let down in any way.”

Mr Vitter's apparent association with DC Madam was revealed when she posted her telephone records on the internet after an injunction against doing so was lifted by a judge four days ago. The names were included in a series of files on a website devoted to Ms Palfrey's legal defence fund. She denies all charges of racketeering, contending that her escort service was a legitimate business.

The revelations represent a considerable embarrassment for Mr Vitter, who has in the past fought off allegations that he had a lengthy relationship with another prostitute in New Orleans.

Following the claims, by a member of the Louisiana Republican State Central Committee, the Senator told a radio interview that they were "absolutely and completely untrue," labelling them as "just crass Louisiana politics".

The 46-year-old is serving his first Senate term, having been elected in 2004. He represented Louisiana’s 1st Congressional District in the House from 1999 to 2004.

He and his wife, Wendy, live in Metairie, Louisiana, with their four children. On his website, he says he is committed to the advancement of "mainstream conservative principles". He also says that he, along with his wife, is a lector at his hometown church.

While Mr Vitter is the first member of Congress to be associated with DC Madam, he is not the first high-profile political figure. Earlier this year the name of Randall L Tobias, a deputy secretary of State, was discovered on Ms Palfrey's records, after she leaked several thousand names to ABC News.

After being contacted by the news station, Mr Tobias claimed he used her services for massages and not sex. A day later, he resigned from the State Department. A judge then placed a restraining order on the release of any further records, which was lifted last Thursday.

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