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FEC Allows Disgraced Senator to Use Some Campaign Funds for Legal Fees

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) decided Thursday that Senator David Vitter (R-LA) will be able to use campaign funds to pay part of his more than $200,000 in legal and public relations fees stemming from his alleged involvement with the DC Madam scandal. Vitter incurred fees as a result of his association with Deborah Jean Palfrey, known for running a Washington, DC escort service.

Vitter’s Washington, DC phone number appeared five times in Palfrey’s 1999-2000 call records for the escort service. Vitter responded to this connection in a press conference, where he admitted to “a very serious sin in [his] past” and stated: “Several years ago, I asked for and received forgiveness from God and from my wife in confession and marriage counseling,” reported Ms. magazine.

The criminal case against Palfrey and Vitter’s connection to her led to $85,322 in legal fees to quash subpoenas, $31,341.25 for legal consultation, $75,212.75 to monitor the Palfrey case, and $15,301.50 for miscellaneous expenses. Of this, Vitter has paid approximately $70,000 out of pocket and sought permission for reimbursement from his campaign committee. Vitter’s lawyers argued that the costs stemmed from his official position as a Senator and, therefore, that campaign funds can be used to pay them. The FEC agreed that this argument applies to only some of his expenses and plan to send Vitter a letter specifically outlining their decision, according to the Associated Press.

Sources:

Ms. Magazine, Summer 2008; Associated Press 8/21/08; Federal Election Commission

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