To the People

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Sen. Vitter Gets Off Again

Louisiana Senator David Vitter -- the upright Republican who was patronizing Deborah Jean Palfrey's escort service -- got a bit of good news the other day. The Senate Ethics Panel dropped its complaint against Vitter "with prejudice" this week, meaning he'll escape any official sanction for his whoremongering.

How did he do it? Well, it seems that timing is everything, as the Washington Post explains:

In its ruling, the [Senate Ethics] panel said it could not punish Vitter because his association with the escort service occurred before he joined the Senate in 2005.

"The conduct at issue occurred before your Senate candidacy and service . . . the conduct at issue did not result in your being charged criminally . . . the conduct at issue did not involve use of public office or status for improper purposes," the committee wrote in a letter signed by all six senators.

Elected to the House in 1999, Vitter cannot be investigated by its ethics committee because it has no jurisdiction now that he is a senator.

So while the woman who ran the service got convicted, faced a jail term, was bankrupted and finally became so depressed that she hung herself, her patron gets away without even a slap on the wrist thanks to his Senate buddies. Makes you proud to be an American, doesn't it?

On a related note, the Post earlier pointed out that Palfrey's total earnings from her escort service were peanuts.
Palfrey ran her business, Pamela Martin & Associates, by telephone from her California home, and authorities said she grossed about $2 million from 1993 to 2006, splitting the money about evenly with her escorts. They said she employed at least 132 women over the years, dispatching them nightly to clients in homes and hotel rooms in the Washington area.

So, $2 million over 13 years? Whip out your calculator: that means her whole operation was grossing about $154 thou annually. Half of that went to the call girls. Palfrey then had to pay whatever the overhead was herself (It was probably not that much, since she ran it all by phone). It's not clear whether she paid any taxes on the call-girl service either, but she wasn't convicted on tax-dodging charges, so she may very well have.

In short Palfrey was making about $77 thou a year before any expenses and any taxes. Retirement and health care came out of her own pocket too. Hardly a lavish operation. Isn't there actual, big-time corruption going on someplace the feds can go after?

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