By Elizabeth Williamson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) ended a week of seclusion yesterday to say he'll return to work in Washington, ending speculation that the Republican would resign after his telephone number appeared last week in the records of an alleged Washington prostitution ring.
"I want to, again, offer my deep, sincere apologies to all those I have let down and disappointed with these actions from my past," Vitter said in a news conference yesterday in his home city of Metairie. "I am completely responsible. And I am so very, very sorry."
Vitter, 46, was accompanied by his wife, Wendy. Looking pale and grim, she told reporters that "like all marriages, ours is not perfect" but that "I am proud to be Wendy Vitter."
A week ago, Vitter's telephone number surfaced several times in call records released by Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the alleged "D.C. Madam." The calls were made to Vitter from 1999 to 2001, when he served in the House.
Palfrey, 51, is facing federal racketeering charges for her role in running Pamela Martin and Associates, an escort service that prosecutors say was a prostitution ring. She released the numbers on the Internet last week, as part of her campaign to defend herself.
Vitter, a staunch social conservative known for his outspoken condemnation of Bill Clinton's extramarital dalliance, issued a brief written apology for his "very serious sin" on June 9, then went into hiding, as reporters looking for him camped on his lawn and at his offices in Louisiana and on Capitol Hill.
While Vitter remained in seclusion last week, other disclosures followed Palfrey's, including allegations that he had been a longtime patron of a New Orleans brothel. Its proprietor, Jeanette Maier, appeared on television in Louisiana last week to call Vitter "a very strong man that's able to carry New Orleans where it needs to go."
Vitter denied the brothel allegations yesterday, calling them "falsehoods" spread by "longtime political enemies and those hoping to profit from the situation."
Vitter is the first Republican to represent Louisiana in the Senate since Reconstruction and is Southern regional chairman of former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani's Republican presidential campaign.
He said that he had spent the week at home while the Senate debated the Iraq war because "Wendy and I thought it was very important to have some time alone with our children, so that's what we did for a few days."