Senate Ethics Committee clears Vitter in prostitution probe
Nick Langewis
Published: Thursday May 8, 2008

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An ethics complaint against Senator David Vitter (R-LA) filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has been dismissed without prejudice today.

The complaint, submitted to the Committee on July 19, 2007, requested that it conduct an investigation into whether Sen. Vitter violated Senate rules by seeking the services of Pamela Martin and Associates, the escort service run by the late Deborah Jeane Palfrey, better known as the "DC Madam."

It was discovered that Vitter sought Palfrey's services when his phone number surfaced on a client list obtained by Hustler publisher Larry Flynt. On July 9, 2007, after being contacted by Hustler, Vitter publicly acknowledged a "very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible."

Jeanette Maier, New Orleans' "Canal Street Madam," came forward the following day, saying that Vitter had solicited prostitutes through her more than once during the 1990s. Vitter was accused of trysts between July and November of 1999 with Wendy Ellis (aka Cortez), said to be his favorite tradesperson, during his 2004 Senate campaign; while there was no evidence to substantiate the claim, Ellis did pass a lie detector test.

The Ethics Committee's letter, as obtained by CREW, is available to view below. Since the "sin" took place outside the range of Vitter's Senate candidacy and term, the Committee has declined to explore further. The signatories say that their decision should not be construed as acceptance of the alleged activities, which they call "reprehensible," and that any new allegations that surface will be investigated anew.