CON AIR…. It was hard to imagine the Brent Furer story getting worse for Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) — but it has.

To briefly recap, Furer is the aide Vitter kept on his taxpayer-financed payroll, despite Furer having held his ex-girlfriend hostage, threatening to kill her, and attacking her with a knife. The right-wing, scandal-plagued senator knew about this, and not only kept Furer on his staff, but tasked him with helping oversee women’s issues for the Senate office. Making matters worse, Vitter, when asked about this, appears to have lied.

Furer had also been arrested on four other occasions — three times for DUI, and once for cocaine possession. We’re learning this week that Vitter used taxpayer dollars to send Furer to Louisiana, apparently so he could defend himself against some of his criminal charges.

Democrats think they have David Vitter dead to rights. Travel records, they say, indicate that Vitter’s one-time aide Brent Furer twice used taxpayer money to travel to Louisiana to defend himself in court on drunk driving charges. Those same records suggest that Furer seldom traveled to Louisiana on congressional business. […]

That contradicts Vitter’s official response to the suggestion that Furer attended court dates on the taxpayer dime. In a statement to the Advocate in Baton Rouge, Vitter spokesman Joel DiGrado, said Vitter was unaware of the drunk driving charges at the time, and added “It is standard for our Washington legislative staff to visit Louisiana periodically for meetings.”

Furer, it turns out, almost never went to Louisiana on official business in the five years he worked for Vitter — and half the time he did, it just happened to coincide with one of his court dates.

This is especially interesting given that Vitter went after his Democratic opponent, Rep. Charlie Melancon, for using his congressional account to lease an SUV. By comparison, Vitter seems to have used our money to pay for a violent criminal to travel to Louisiana to make court dates.

I realize Louisiana is pretty conservative, and it’s looking like a Republican year. But it’s hard not to wonder just how much tolerance voters will have in a situation like this. Initially, it looked like Vitter betraying his family by hiring prostitutes — after having run on a “family-values” platform — would be his most serious controversy. But in recent months, Vitter’s hooker problem has become just a piece in a large, ugly puzzle.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.