Sen. David Vitter wants the Senate Ethics Committee to launch an investigation of Democrats Harry Reid and Barbara Boxer, saying the two broke the Senate’s code of conduct when they floated legislation referencing Vitter’s alleged past rendezvous with prostitutes.
Vitter appeal to the Ethics panel is the latest move in a rapidly escalating battle between the Louisiana Republican and his colleagues across the aisle.
Vitter infuriated Democrats this week by hijacking a debate over an energy-efficiency bill with an amendment aimed at Obamacare. Under Vitter’s amendment, lawmakers would no longer qualify for federal contributions to help cover their health care costs.
It’s a prickly subject for Democrats, and, according to a Friday Politico report, they’re considering the hardest of hardball moves in response. The Democrats are reportedly floating legislation that would ban senators from getting government contributions for their health insurance costs if there is “probable cause” they solicited prostitutes. The move is an obvious swipe at Vitter, who has been suspected of involvement with prostitutes since his 2007 entanglement in the “D.C. Madam” scandal.
But in his call for an Ethics investigation, Vitter is ignoring the swipe by focusing on an alternative draft of the legislation. Democrats reportedly floated an alternative version of their bill that would deny coverage contributions to any lawmaker who voted in support of Vitter’s amendment. Vitter argues that bill amounts to bribery, with lawmakers offering benefits — in this case, the federal coverage contributions — to lawmakers in exchange for their votes.
“This is attempted bribery, and the exact sort of behavior that the Senate Ethics Committee has previously condemned,” he said in a letter to the committee heads.
In his letter, Vitter notes that Boxer is indeed the top Democrat on the Ethics panel. Should she be found complicit in the scheme, Vitter says that Boxer should be stripped of her Ethics Committee membership.
Boxer, for her part, is not backing down either: “Senator Vitter has manufactured a bizarre and phony attack that demeans the Senate,” she said later Friday.
Democrats have not yet formally introduced any version of the anti-Vitter bill, and none may ever hit the floor, but its appearance in press reports has put a spotlight on a part of Vitter’s career he would prefer remain part of the past.
This post was updated at 5:25 p.m. Friday to include Sen. Boxer’s response.
What We're Following See More »
After keeping the information private for most of the lead-up to the debate on Monday, it has been revealed that longtime Clinton aide Philippe Reines has been playing the role of Donald Trump in her debate prep. Reines knows Clinton better than most, able to identify both her strengths and weaknesses, and his selection for a sparring partner shows that Clinton is preparing for the brash and confrontational Donald Trump many have come to expect.
- A national Washington Post/ABC News poll shows Clinton leading Trump by just two points among likely voters, 46% to 44%.
- A national Bloomberg poll out Monday morning by Selzer & Co. has Clinton and Trump tied at 46% in a two-way race, and Trump ahead 43% to 41% in a four-way race.
- A CNN/ORC poll in Colorado shows likely voters’ support for Trump at 42%, 41% for Clinton, and a CNN/ORC poll in Pennsylvania has Clinton at 45% and Trump at 44%.
- A Portland Press Herald/UNH survey in Maine has Clinton leading Trump in ME-01 and Trump ahead in ME-02.
More than 30 times, in the case of some donors. Long before Cruz endorsed Trump—and before he even snubbed the nominee at the Republican National Convention—"the senator quietly began renting his vast donor email file to his former rival, pocketing at least tens of thousands of dollars, and more likely hundreds of thousands, that can be used to bankroll the Texan’s own political future."
"A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that 34% of registered voters think the three presidential debates would be extremely or quite important in helping them decide whom to support for president. About 11% of voters are considered 'debate persuadables'—that is, they think the debates are important and are either third-party voters or only loosely committed to either major-party candidate."
Will he or won't he? That's the question surrounding Donald Trump and his on-again, off-again threats to bring onetime Bill Clinton paramour Gennifer Flowers to the debate as his guest. An assistant to flowers initially said she'd be there, but Trump campaign chief Kellyanne Conway "said on ABC’s 'This Week' that the Trump campaign had not invited Flowers to the debate, but she didn’t rule out the possibility of Flowers being in the audience."