News Analysis: Has Louisiana Senator Been Flynted?

WASHINGTON, D.C. - It's all over the 'Net: One of the phone numbers recently made public by Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the "D.C. Madam," belonged to David Vitter, who, as one of the congressional Representatives from Louisiana, was also one of the chief sponsors of last year's proposed "Marriage Protection Amendment."

But Vitter should have been worrying about protecting his own marriage. In 1999, a prostitute by the name of "Leah" contacted one of Vitter's political opponents – he was running for the U.S. House at the time – and claimed she'd carried on a year-long relationship with Vitter ... while Vitter was campaigning as a hard-core social conservative "family values" candidate and one of the leading proponents for a defense of traditional marriage.

Hypocrisy, thy name is Vitter!

Vitter had vociferously denied the adultery – he'd been married to wife Wendy, a former prosecutor, since the early '90s – but on July 5, U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler lifted the injunction she'd imposed several months ago and allowed Deborah Jeane Palfrey to release the thousands of telephone records Palfrey had kept as the owner of a high-class D.C. escort service ... and lo and behold, one of those phone numbers belong to David Vitter, now in his first term as his home state's Senator.

And what was Vitter's reaction?

"This was a very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible," Vitter said in a statement. "Several years ago, I asked for and received forgiveness from God and my wife in confession and marriage counseling. 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."

Of course, that's a somewhat different tone than Vitter was taking back in 2004 when he was campaigning for his current Senate seat ... and against the recent Massachusetts Supreme Court legalization of same-sex marriage.

"This is a real outrage," blustered soon-to-be Sen. Vitter. "The Hollywood left is redefining the most basic institution in human history, and our two U.S. Senators won't do anything about it. We need a U.S. Senator who will stand up for Louisiana values, not Massachusetts's values. I am the only Senate Candidate to coauthor the Federal Marriage Amendment; the only one fighting for its passage."

The statement is hardly surprising, given Vitter's reputation in the House.

"In Congress, Vitter became a reliable vote for the extreme right, earning a 100 percent rating from the American Conservative Union in 2002," wrote Mary Jacoby for Salon magazine. "He vowed to outlaw abortion in almost all cases, even when pregnancy results from rape or incest; his only exception was to save the life of the mother. And -- with an eye on the governor's office -- he continued the crusade against gambling that he'd started in 1993 with the ethics complaint against [La.] Gov. Edwin Edwards."

But for those with long memories, the words "adultery" and "Louisiana" may ring a distant bell.

Back in 1998, President Bill Clinton was facing impeachment in the House of Representatives for allegedly lying under oath about his sexual exploits ... and Hustler publisher Larry Flynt, being reasonably sure that Clinton wasn't the only elected official to have played "hide the salami" with someone other than his wife, placed a story in the pages of Hustler offering $1 million for information on any "sexual indiscretions" that had been committed by the Republicans who were so anxious to remove Clinton from office for his alleged sexual exploits.

The most widely-publicized result of Flynt's offer came to light on Dec. 19, 1998, during the House debate on the Clinton articles of impeachment. Then-House Speaker-Elect Bob Livingston, Representative of his state's 1st congressional district (New Orleans), announced that he was stepping down from his post and would soon resign from the House altogether... all because Flynt had made known that he was in possession of evidence of Livingston's extramarital affair and was prepared to publish same.

[Ironically, former Hustler editor Allan MacDonell revealed in his memoir "Prisoner of X" that Flynt was essentially bluffing at the time. - Ed.]

But while Flynt has stayed more behind-the-scenes politically for the last decade, last month, he placed an ad in the Washington Post, once again offering $1 million for documented stories involving sex with current congressional members or high-ranking government officials. It now appears that that ad may have borne fruit.

Time magazine is reporting on its website that Flynt crime reporter Dan E. Moldea has been seen having lunch with Palfrey, and has confirmed that Moldea is helping Palfrey write a book "which details her exploits as the 'DC Madam' – although "both she and Flynt have said they have never met and are not coordinating their efforts."

However, Time reporter Adam Zagorin writes that, "Members of a team assembled by self-described pornographer Larry Flynt, publisher of Hustler, are understood to have identified Vitter's name through their own analysis of Palfrey's phone records."

However Vitter was identified as a client of Palfrey's, it must certainly be considered a public service to "out" a "conservative" whose voting record in Congress, according to blogger Howie Klein, consists of, "Zero on health care, zero on family planning, zero on housing, zero on human rights and civil liberties, zero on labor rights, zero on Justice for all, zero on education, zero on the environment. And, of course, zero on Iraq, meaning he voted for the Bush Cheney Iraq agenda 100% of the time."

AVN extends kudos to Larry Flynt for being willing to put his money where his mouth is when it comes to the sexual interests of all Americans.

The only thing left is to wait and see if Wendy Vitter meant what she said in the late '90s when, after hearing of her husband's alleged pay-for-play with a "well-known French Quarter prostitute," she told a reporter for the New Orleans Times-Picayune, "I'm a lot more like Lorena Bobbitt than Hillary. If he does something like that, I'm walking away with one thing, and it's not alimony, trust me."