On Wednesday and Thursday of this week, only hours before Louisiana voters head to the polls to determine their next governor, three other witnesses- Jeanette Maier, the former Canal Street Madam; another woman who wanted to be known as Vanna and who asked that both her face and her voice be distorted for fear of reprisal, and a man named Ricky, the owner of a barbershop across the street from a former brothel, each came forward, in separate stories published in both Gambit and on American Zombie.
And each alleged that U.S. Sen. David Vitter was a client of prostitutes in New Orleans during the 1990s, including Wendy Ellis (who was then known by the name Leah and whose bombshell interviews with Jason Brad Berry kicked off this story last week) and, according to Maier, two others, including a woman named Michelle Mosgrove who committed suicide in 1997 and another woman Maier refused to identify.
In addition, Kevin Allman of Gambit reports that a barber named Ricky remembers David Vitter being at his shop on several different occasions, which was located directly across the street from Ellis’s apartment. “The barber, Ricky Ketchum, disputes that (Vitter’s denials),” reports Kevin Allman of Gambit. “’He claims … that he never went over there, at the hooker’s house. I know that’s not true. Because I do know — I can’t tell you what they did behind closed doors — but I do know he went over. He was over there,’” Ketchum tells Gambit.
David Vitter has consistently and continually denied the “New Orleans stories,” and his campaign spokesman Luke Bolar flippantly dismissed the recent accusations published by Jason Brad Berry on his website American Zombie, calling it “a shady blog.” “This wild story is completely untrue and has been disproved in numerous ways,” Bolar told Gambit. The problem is, for both Vitter and Bolar: These stories actually haven’t been disproven in numerous ways as completely untrue, not at all.
Yes, they’ve been criticized and questioned, and no doubt, Ellis’s timeline is problematic. However, there is nothing to suggest that Ellis’s story has been categorically disproven or discounted; in order for that to occur, David Vitter would have to provide something much more substantive than the opposition research his campaign supporters conducted or the proxy statements he issues under the imprimatur of his young staff member.
Here’s why all of this actually matters: David Vitter has likely lied for more than a decade about his commitment toward wholesome conservative family values. If these allegations are truthful, it means Vitter took to the pages of The Times-Picayune to argue for the impeachment of the President for having a consensual affair with Monica Lewinsky, all while he, then a state representative who held himself out to be a paragon of virtue and morality, quietly haunted the streets of the French Quarter in search of prostitutes. And he did this so often, he became recognized, not only by the escorts and the madams but by the guys in the barbershop across the street.
These rumors have persisted for well over a decade, and earlier this week, when The Times-Picayune and The Advocate refused to publish the most recent allegations, many assumed that Vitter’s legal team threatened with a lawsuit. That’s nonsense. The last thing David Vitter ever wants to do is answer a deposition under oath. Stories were pulled because Wendy Ellis’s account, standing along, wasn’t enough. But now there is more than enough. Now we have a major Republican candidate asking voters to check out these allegations. Now The Washington Post, The New York Times, and, yes, even The Advocate are raising these questions, and it’s only going to get worse.
Scandal continues to plague and to follow David Vitter, and if he is elected governor, Louisiana will continue to be haunted by Vitter’s past.