Monday, 19 October 2015 15:27

David Vitter playing chicken over prostitute Wendy Ellis smear-controversy?

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VITTER--CHICKENby Tom Aswell, Publisher of Louisiana Voice
By now, anyone with anything more than a passing interest in Saturday’s gubernatorial primary election is aware of the latest bombshell about U.S. Sen. David Vitter and his cavorting with prostitutes: that Vitter allegedly fathered a child with New Orleans hooker Wendy Ellis.


The story was published on Saturday (Oct. 17) by Jason Brad Berry of theAmerican Zombie investigative blog and political junkies immediately began burning up the email lines just as the 2015 primary election for governor enters its final stretch.

It not our intent to discredit Berry (he was, after all, the first to reveal widespread corruption involving former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and some of his pals, all of whom were convicted of corruption). But Clancy DuBos, publisher of Gambit Magazine in New Orleans wisely spiked that publication’s initial story about Berry’s toxic (to Vitter) interview with Ellis after receiving court documents that shot gaping holes in parts of Berry’s blog post.

Nor should anyone interpret this as a defense of Vitter.

Far from it.

The timing of the story is terribly suspect, given the election was only a week away when Berry posted it. But even if Ellis’s claims ultimately fail the smell test, Vitter really deserves no sympathy in this sordid affair after the manner he has allowed his Super PAC, The Fund for Louisiana’s Future, to fill our living rooms with television attack ads containing half-truths and outright lies about his two Republican opponents, Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle and Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne.

And Vitter cannot divorce himself from those ads simply because a Super PAC accepted responsibility for the content of the ads. That does not absolve him. Louisiana’s senior senator did, after all, contribute a quarter-million dollars of his own money to the Super Pac, so he is married to the ads whether he likes it or not.

The entire gubernatorial campaign has been reduced to the lowest form of political discourse consisting of nothing but smear campaigns. While Vitter’s Super PAC was chewing up Angelle and Dardenne with B.S. claims and unabashed lies, the National Republican Governors’ Association was doing the same to the lone Democrat in the race, State Rep. John Bel Edwards. (It’s interesting to note that the GOP Governors’ Association first said it was staying out of the primary election but after witnessing a steady climb in the polls by Edwards, the association once headed by Bobby Jindal apparently panicked and decided to go on the attack now.)

And make no mistake, those ads are just as vile. And their relevance to burning issues that face this state make about as much sense as an acquaintance from north Louisiana who despite having for years claimed to be sophisticated enough that he would “vote for the best candidate, no matter the party,” told me this weekend that, “I just can’t vote for someone with a ‘D’ behind their name.” What utter nonsense, what unmitigated bias, and yes, what ignorance. What happened to that “best candidate” business, pal?

But we digress.

Where are the proposals for addressing the myriad of state problems? I haven’t heard them because they’re being drowned out by ads that are hell bent on dragging opponents through the mud and muck which only means when the dust finally settles, we’re likely to be faced with the same old problems with no one offering hard answers.

And folks, that begins with the candidates for governor and quickly flows downhill into both chambers of the Louisiana Legislature. With more than half the incumbents being returned to office to cut deals and to pass laws favorable to campaign contributors, we’re quite likely to see the same trend in corporate tax giveaways continue unabated.

Indeed, the entire dialog this election cycle has been reduced to quickie TV ads that spew shameless misrepresentations of the facts. And it will only be ramped up a few notches for the general election.

Has Vitter overlooked the fact that he, along with the others, is in reality, interviewing for a job? When you are seeking a job, you put your best foot forward; you don’t walk into the interview trashing those competing for the same job. That’s a fast way out the door. You give your prospective employer your curriculum vitae and you come prepared to discuss your experience, your accomplishments and your career plans should you be hired. And you better not waste his or her time with disparaging gossip about the other applicants.

Ellis previously (in 2007) passed a polygraph test which indicated that she did indeed have a sexual relationship with Vitter for at least four months although she now says the relationship lasted for nearly three years, from 1998 to sometime in 2000 when she informed him she was pregnant.

She says Vitter first denied paternity and then suggested she get an abortion. She didn’t. Instead, she put the baby up for adoption raising the immediate questions of just who was the pro-life advocate in this scenario?

The emerging saga prompted a reader of one online blog to suggest that many of the so-called “family values” types like Vitter, Newt Gingrich, Dennis Hastert, and Josh Duggar “have more skeletons in their closets than Jeffrey Dahmer.”

Vitter, for his part, of course, is keeping mum. But then, that’s been his approach the entire duration of this repugnant campaign: stay far away from the media and voters, and for God’s sake, don’t get drawn into any open debates in which questions are not provided in advance. If you’ve been paying attention, he is letting The Fund for Louisiana’s Future do all his talking for him. (Well, there is that one pitifully wretched ad in which he props wife Wendy in front of the camera to tell Louisiana’s voters what a wonderful husband and father he is.

But when he does appear, it is always—without exception—in a controlled venue in which no one has a chance to ask any embarrassing questions.

All of which brings me to my final bit of speculation:

Is it just possible that the reason last Thursday’s debate among the four candidates at Louisiana Tech University in Ruston was closed off not only to students and the general public, but to the media as well—and the reason Vitter was the only one of the four to skip out on a post-debate meeting with media types who were relegated to an adjoining room during the debate—was that he knew Berry was developing this story for imminent release and he simply could ill-afford to have that stink bomb tossed into the middle of the debate—on statewide TV?

After all, Berry said on his blog that he had contact with David Vitter’s legal counsel and repeatedly requested a telephone interview with him to address the story but his lawyer stated he was too busy to talk with me.”

Really? Seriously, Dave? As determined as you are to evade addressing the burning question of whether or not you broke the law by soliciting prostitutes, this is a bit more serious.

Too busy to discuss a pending story that you may have fathered a child by a prostitute? By telephone, yet?

Sorry, Dave, but true or not, you don’t get to busy to discuss matters of this magnitude.

Unless you have a reason for not talking.

But, Dave, Berry says he has “much more information” that he will be sharing soon.

You may wish to reconsider and give him a call.

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