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 »
Trump, in a statement: “Based on the fact that the Democratic nominating process is totally rigged and Crooked Hillary Clinton and Deborah Wasserman Schultz will not allow Bernie Sanders to win, and now that I am the presumptive Republican nominee, it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second place finisher. ... I will wait to debate the first place finisher in the Democratic Party, probably Crooked Hillary Clinton, or whoever it may be.”
"It's about time for unity," said UAW President Dennis Williams. "We're endorsing Hillary Clinton. She's gotten 3 million more votes than Bernie, a million more votes than Donald Trump. She's our nominee." He called Sanders "a great friend of the UAW" while saying Trump "does not support the economic security of UAW families." Some 28 percent of UAW members indicated their support for Trump in an internal survey.
"Donald Trump on Thursday reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president, completing an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and sets the stage for a bitter fall campaign. Trump was put over the top in the Associated Press delegate count by a small number of the party's unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the convention."
"Clinton and Bernie Sanders "are now devoting additional money to television advertising. A day after Sanders announced a new ad buy of less than $2 million in the state, Clinton announced her own television campaign. Ads featuring actor Morgan Freeman as well as labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta will air beginning on Fridayin Fresno, Sacramento, and Los Angeles media markets. Some ads will also target Latino voters and Asian American voters. The total value of the buy is about six figures according to the Clinton campaign." Meanwhile, a new poll shows Sanders within the margin of error, trailing Clinton 44%-46%.