Vitter comes out of hiding (briefly)

VITTER COMES OUT OF HIDING (BRIEFLY)…. About two weeks ago, we learned some painful new information about Sen. David Vitter (R) of Louisiana, who’s running for re-election despite having been caught with prostitutes after running on a “family values” platform.

ABC News discovered that Vitter knowingly kept aide Brent Furer on his taxpayer financed payroll, despite Furer having held his ex-girlfriend hostage, threatening to kill her, and stabbing her with a knife on her hand and neck. Sen. Vitter was aware of Furer’s problems, but, according to the ABC report, nevertheless paid Furer to oversee women’s issues for the senator’s office. (Furer had also been arrested on four other occasions — three times for DUI, and once for cocaine possession — and remains wanted on an open warrant.)

Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-La.), Vitter’s opponent, brings these issues up from time to time. Vitter has responded by doing what far too many GOP candidates do lately — he hid.

Today, however, Vitter left his undisclosed location long enough to file his re-election materials in Baton Rouge. Louisiana Dems sent Eric Kleefeld a transcript of the scandal-plagued senator’s run-in with local reporters. Vitter initially refused to talk at all about his prostitution problem, and then dismissed the Furer scandal as “something that happened two years ago.”

QUESTION: You say this happened two years ago, I mean, he just resigned and you let him stay on the staff since the events happened in 2008, so it wasn’t two years ago.

VITTER: Well, the event was two years ago, the discipline he got in the office was two years ago.

QUESTION: Why’d you let him…what kind of discipline did he get in the office?

QUESTION: Senator, why was he assigned to women’s issues even after you knew about the arrest?

VITTER: Uh, he was not.

QUESTION: He was not assigned to women’s issues?

VITTER: Correct.

Now, as for whether Vitter had Furer working on women’s issues, the ABC News report states that Furer “has spent the last five years posted in his Washington office to handle, among other things, women’s issues.” If that’s mistaken, I’m not sure why Vitter’s office hasn’t tried to correct this since the report first aired two weeks ago. Given Vitter’s record of integrity, it’s certainly possible the right-wing senator was lying to reporters today. At this point, it’s unclear.

Frankly, this detail matters, but not as much as the larger question of Vitter’s bizarre judgment. Of course, since today’s public appearance didn’t go especially well, don’t be surprised if the senator stops talking to the media again for a long while.