Alleged D.C. Madam Wants to Subpoena Reporter, Senator

By Carol D. Leonnig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 12, 2007; 5:36 PM

The alleged D.C. Madam said she wants to subpoena ABC News investigative reporter Brian Ross and Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) in hopes of showing she's the victim of a political prosecution.

Deborah Jeane Palfrey, who faces charges of conspiracy in running an illegal prostitution ring in the D.C. area for 13 years, claims that her escort service provided legal, albeit sexually explicit, fantasies rather than sex. Ross's news program was the first to review and report on phone records, which Palfrey provided, listing the numbers of escorts and clients she called over a four-year period.

As ABC News researched the phone calls, an assistant secretary of state resigned and disclosed that he had been a customer of Palfrey's escort service. But Ross's subsequent news program did not disclose names of high-profile customers, as Palfrey had pledged would happen.

Palfrey's civil attorney, Montgomery Blair Sibley, wrote to reporters yesterday that he plans to seek Ross's testimony because "the very real specter exists that political pressure was placed on ABC News to 'bury' " names of prominent individuals it found among her phone records.

Sibley said Leahy, as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, will be able to attest to Bush administration Justice Department officials' political interference in cases.

A spokesman for Leahy's office dismissed Palfrey's proposal as among the more wacky requests the senator's office has received.

Ross rejected Palfrey's suggestion that politicians censored or shaped his news reporting. "Our decisions regarding what we reported were based solely on what we considered to be newsworthy," Ross said in statements posted on ABC's Web site.

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