Forget Sen. Vitter's penis: Follow his money

They’re all over this guy — The New York Times, The Washington Post and CNN. Sex sells, so they’re selling it — and doing a disservice to their readers and viewers.

It’s a story played over and over again in Congress (Wilbur Mills, anyone? Fanne Foxe?) A senator or member of Congress paints himself (or herself) as a vision of moral rectitude and gets caught with his pants down (or her skirt up). Literally.

So Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) paid for sex. Big deal. All this “sex sells” coverage may drive ratings, but it detracts readers and viewers from far more important issues. Politicians would rather have the press focused on their sexual peccadilloes than on their financial affairs while in service to their constituents.

Sen. Vitter’s “serious sin” has nothing to do with sex. It’s the sin far too many senators and members of Congress seem to commit with corporate abandon: “Give me money to get elected and I’ll make sure you go to the head of the line for federal cash.”

Sen. Vitter served three terms in the House before he won the 2004 Senate race against Democrat Chris John with 51 percent of the vote. He raised $7,192,566 for that race, of which $1,386,220 came from PACs and $4,980,125 from individuals.

Since 1998, Sen. Vitter has generated $12,354,936 in contributions to his House and Senate campaign committees.

In the years that Sen. Vitter has served in Congress (including his House terms), the federal government has awarded $18.6 billion in contracts to Louisiana — of which $10.1 billion went to District 1, his home seat (now held by Rep. Piyush “Bobby” Jindal).

Defense contractor Northrop Grumman, which says it currently employs more than 17,000 shipbuilding professionals, primarily in Louisiana and Mississippi, has received $4.3 billion in federal contracts during Sen. Vitter’s time in Congress. Over that time, Northrop has given Sen. Vitter $38,050 in campaign contributions.

McDermott International, an engineering and construction company with facilities in Morgan City and New Orleans, received $354 million in federal contracts. It gave Sen. Vitter $35,250 in campaign contributions.

Edison Chouest Offshore, an offshore vessel service company founded in Galliano, La., received about $66.6 million in federal contracts during Sen. Vitter’s service in Congress. The company is the largest campaign contributor to Sen. Vitter at $84,526.

BellSouth has received $141 million (not all in Louisiana) in federal contracts during Sen. Vitter’s time in Congress. BellSouth is Sen. Vitter’s third-largest campaign contributor at $59,050.

Bollinger Shipyards, which has facilities in Lockport, East New Orleans, St. Rose, Harvey and Morgan City, La., has received about $106 million in federal contracts. It has given Sen. Vitter $43,700 in campaign contributions.

Boh Brothers Construction, which says it is Louisiana’s largest construction company, has given Sen. Vitter $48,400 in campaign contributions. This is the company whose Web site says: “Stopping the Surge/Boh Completes Flood Gate at the 17th Street Canal.”

C&C Technologies, a privately owned Lafayette, La., surveying and mapping company that operates worldwide, has given Sen. Vitter $36,900. C&C does projects for the U.S. Geological Survey.

Sen. Vitter serves on the Committee on Environment and Public Works and its Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety. Energy PACs gave him money. Duke Energy gave him $10,000 for his Senate campaign. Centerpoint Energy gave him $3,500. El Paso Corp., which owns North America’s largest natural gas pipeline system, gave him $6,500. Entergy Corp., which seeks a revival of the nuclear power industry, gave him $7,000. Overall, the oil and gas industries have given him $459,085 and the electric utility industry $110,666.

Sen. Vitter serves on the Subcommittee on Consumer Affairs, Insurance, and Automotive Safety. Over his congressional career, the insurance industry has given him $196,376. (See his top industry campaign donors here.)

Of the 79 bills he has filed on the Senate in his brief career thus far, 16 have co-sponsors. (See them here; select “Vitter” at “Select a Senator.”)

During Sen. Vitter’s time in Congress, his reported personal assets have doubled. In his 1999 financial disclosure statement, he reported assets (stocks, bonds, savings) of between $126,000 and $715,000.

His 2006 financial disclosure statement shows that he has assets of between $1.4 million and $3.9 million. (Only a range of value is indicated on these required disclosures.)

An 2004 unflattering portrait of Sen. Vitter by Mary Jacoby at Salon calls him “[s]harp-edged and uncompromising, but enormously talented at self-promotion” and “duplicitous.”

When it comes to sex in Washington, forget the penis. Keep your eyes on the pocketbook. That’s where the real action is.

xpost: 5th Estate

15 replies »

  1. Terrific post, Denny. Between you and me, we’re giving the state of LA a really bad day, you know…? 😉

    You know, Walker Percy’s novel “The Last Gentleman” is set in NC and begins thusly: “In the most religious city in the most religious state in the most religious country in the world…”

    I think I’m going to write one set in LA called “The Last Crooked Politician” that begins: “In the most corrupt city in the most corrupt state…”

  2. Great post. It seem that Vitter had his hand in more than one pot of gold.

    Sex does sell, but the Republicans seem to have a big corner of the market

  3. INRE: Jim Booth’s “I think I’m going to write one set in LA called “The Last Crooked Politician” that begins: “In the most corrupt city in the most corrupt state…””

    Sorry, Jim, at least we FIND OUT about them in Louisiana, and actually send them to jail. I think that makes La. one of hte LEAST corrupt.

    This is a classic example, too – I don’t care if its the sex or the money that gets Vitter tossed from office, as long as he gets tossed

  4. It’s just so difficult to forget about Vitter’s penis when he has been so concerned about everyone else’s. Another reason: the madame of whom Mr. Vitter was a client is facing racketeering charges, and serious jail time, yet Mr. Vitter (and the other “Johns”) are virtually ignored by the justice system. Doesn’t quite seem fair.

    I don’t generally care about the private affairs of our congressmen, and I think their sex lives should remain completely private. It’s just difficult not to note (with some relish) that it is Mr. Vitter who is now facing the type of scrutiny because of actions the like of which he would never fail to condemn. It is something out of Dante, isn’t it?

  5. Don’t you just love it!!! Years of telling US where and to whom we may boink, so sayth by the Word of God . . . now becomes “OH MY GOD!!!” Seems Wild Dickman Vitter was folding a lttle in BOTH wallets . . . hope his wife makes good on her “Threat” to keep “Little Vitter” on her way out . . . but, like any good Republic wife, she’ll “take it and fake it” – hell, Cora Wolfowitz “stood by her man” while he paid to get laid, stayed and played in their own Love Nest, while Cora just quietly cashed the checks and puttered in the garden . . .
    A hippocrite is a large fat animal wallering in it’s own shit in De Nile . . .

  6. True that Vitter is a corrupt politician, but his hypocrisy over the sanctity of marriage, the delicious threat from his wife that she’d take more than just alimony from him if he was caught, is what’s really catching people’s attentions. He’s one of the those politicians who would deny other people the right to marry, while he himself is fornicating all over the place.

    The most interesting detail is the claim that God has forgiven him. How does he know that, and isn’t he violating the second commandment of not taking the Lord’s name in vain? That’s at least two sins, in addition to bearing false witness, etc. I guess that’s why such politicians want the ten commandments nailed to the wall as they are the most likely to violate them!

  7. He won in 2004 with 51% – Wasnt’ that the same election where the vote-rigger-in-chief was supposed to have “won” with 51% against his enabling Skull-and-Bones brother John Kerry? I’d be very surprised after all is said and done that Vitter really got 51%, just as it’s pretty clear that Bush did not.

  8. Why don’t you also look at the same numbers for every other Louisiana elected official like the governor, Mary Landrieu, and William Jefferson. It is typical for large corporations to back every candidate and then further back the one that wins. If you are an employee who’s job depends on those contracts you really don’t give a damn how they got them. Every major elected official in every state has gotten contributions from corporations and no doubt some of those corporations got contracts while the guy they backed was in office. If you are going to call out Vitter on it call out everybody else.

    I’m not supporting the guy because of where he stick his dick. I supporting him because of his politics. Personally I think he was stupid for what he did and, being a lawyer, he more than anyone should be held accountable for BREAKING THE LAW. Soliciting a prostitute is illegal. That to me is a bigger issue than cheating on his wife which is immoral. That issue is between him, his wife, and the church. It only becomes an issue to us, his constituents, when it affects his ability to do his job (i.e. blackmail). His ability to do his job is currently being hampered by the press. Who are reacting to the alleged act so the alleged act is indirectly responsible for him neglecting his duties as a senator.
    It is truly amazing how much time we are spending on a guy’s sex habits from many years ago when we have a U.S. Representative who is guilty of much more serious charges but it’s less sensational. Let’s not forget the DA that is letting murderers go free and the Attorney General who is destroying the medical community in New Orleans while the mayor is office raising money to run for another office.