With Sen. Ted Stevens (R. Alaska) and Rep. Don Young (R. Alaska) both asking to create funds to allow contributors to help pay for their legal defenses on corruption charges, Sen. David Vitter (R.La) wants to go one step further — to use actual campaign funds. It doesn’t seem to matter that voters thought that they were giving money to help a senatorial candidate, not a busted john.
The Federal Election Commission as usual split along party lines with all three Republicans voting that it is perfectly appropriate for a senator to use campaign funds to pay more than $160,000 in legal fees from the federal criminal case against Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the so-called “D.C. Madam, ” and quashing her subpoenas of the senator. The FEC makes the IOC looks like a serious adjudicating body. It has long been dismissed in this town as composed of party hacks selected for their robotic loyalty to party demands.
Since even Vitter cannot claim, as have Stevens and Young, that the charges are related to their public service, a senatorial fund would likely not be approved.
Vitter insists that it is only fair to use money raised for an election to cover his costs in hooker problems: “Please don’t misunderstand me, I committed a very serious wrong and mistake. My only point is that others who did the same but were not notable were not similarly treated or targeted by the defense in the Palfrey litigation.”
Struggling to find a public policy in favor of such conversion of campaign funds, Vitter insists that, unless he is allowed to take the money, it would only encourage others to target “target members of Congress.” It is an incredible statement since many complained that Vitter was given special treatment. While the prosecutors called and destroyed the prostitutes on the stand, they refused to call Vitter who was spared the indignity of discussing his past liaisons with the women.
Yet, Commissioner Matthew Petersen, a Republican, joined the outcry that Sen. Vitter was the victim not of his immoral and criminal conduct but a defense attorney seeking high profile witnesses.
Peterson is an example of why the FEC must be changed to eliminate the current system of politicians appointing party loyalists to protect them in these scandals.
Nevertheless, it is good to see two of the oldest professions working in concert.
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