Louisiana’s Republican Sen. David Vitter, implicated in the D.C. Madam prostitution scandal, has quickly opened and closed a legal defense fund, taking in more than $200,000 from powerful business and political figures in his home state.
In August, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) had ruled that Vitter could use $31,000 in campaign funds for legal expenses associated with a Senate Ethics Committee investigation of his involvement with the prostitution ring. But the FEC prohibited the senator–a vocal proponent of the importance of heterosexual marriage–from using an additional $160,000+ in campaign funds to pay for his legal attempts to quash subpoenas issued to him in the trial of Deborah Jean Palfrey, the so-called D.C. Madam. Vitter’s phone number had appeared in Palfrey’s phone records, which led Vitter to admit to a “serious sin.”
Many of the 27 contributors to Vitter’s new legal fund–which Vitter says followed the directions of the FEC and the Senate Ethics Committee–gave the maximum $10,000 donation, reported the The News-Star in Monroe, Louisiana. One of the donors was John Georges, an Independent who unsuccessfully ran for governor in the state last year and plans to run again. The list of contributors also included prominent Bush supporters such as shipyard owner Donald Bollinger and real estate mogul Joseph Canizaro – men who The Nation identified as being part of a “largely white elite” that had “wrested control of the debate about how to rebuild [New Orleans]” after the Katrina disaster.