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Congressman Denies Affair With Prostitute, Says Charges Are Politically Motivated
by Christopher Tidmore
posted by March 26, 2004
For the first time, Congressman David Vitter has spoken out publically about allegations that he carried on an eleven month affair with a known prostitute named Wendy Cortez.
On WSMB radio last Saturday, a caller who identified himself as Elwood asked Vitter about charges, made by a member of the Louisiana Republican State Central Committee in the Weekly that the then-State Representative, had had an affair with a known prosition in the French Quarter. Elwood continued, "Would you be willing to sign an affidavit that you have ever known, met or had relations with one Wendy Cortez."
Vitter responded, "I think you know that that alligation is abosultely and completely untrue...I have said that on numerous occassions...I'll say that in any forum...Unfortuanately, that's just crass Louisiana politics, now that I am running for the Senate. I have made that clear that it is alll completely untrue...And, it's obviously politically motivated."
In point of fact, Congressman Vitter had previously refused any comment on the charges. The story appeared in this newspaper just days after Vitter dropped out of the race for Governor in June of 2002. The Louisiana Weekly published allegations that Cortez, a known prostitute, claimed that she had an 11-month affair with Vitter, a state representative at the time.
Vincent Bruno, secretary of the Republican Party of Jefferson Parish and a member of the RSCC, alleged that Congressman David Vitter had engaged in an extramarital affair. In what was a high-stakes political battle between some of the most prominent members of the Louisiana Republican Party, Bruno charged that a prostitute, who stated her name to be Wendy Cortez, allegedly confessed to him to having a paid sexual relationship with Vitter.
Three separate and independent sources, including WDSU-TV reporter Richard Angelico, confirmed Bruno's allegation. Each had spoken to Cortez personally, and she recounted to them the details of her alleged affair with Vitter.
Bruno, who supplied documentation of detailed accounts of his meetings with Cortez, along with specific testimony that she provided against the Congressman, claims that he only came forward with the prostitute's name and personal information when pressed as a means to protect his integrity, after enduring attacks on statewide radio.
The Claims in the midst of the First District Congressional Race left vacant as a result of the resignation of Bob Livingston almost four years ago, Bruno asserts that a young woman contacted the Treen Campaign claiming that she had engaged in an affair with Vitter.
Bruno states that he and another prominent Republican subsequently met with the woman. She reportedly told the men that under the alias of "Leah," she regularly had sex with Vitter - at the time a State Representative - in a small apartment on the corner of Dumaine and Dauphine Streets in New Orleans.
Bruno, who by his own admission says he was working "independently" of the Treen Campaign, arranged another meeting with Cortez -this time in Baton Rouge. He claims that he had Cortez flown to the state capitol, housed in a hotel, and resumed the questioning.
Cortez, according to Bruno, recounted the chronology of her alleged affair with Vitter saying that Vitter contacted her through a local New Orleans escort service and visited her for a period of several months making appointments typically on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Bruno also states that the GOP official from the first meeting was again in attendance, along with another prominent Republican with no connections to the Treen Campaign to evaluate whether or not her story was true.
Each man, independently and on the promise of anonymity, gave The Weekly a detailed account of the second meeting with Cortez, providing specific comments and claims that she made against Vitter.
Can She Be Trusted?
At yet a reportedly third meeting that Cortez had with Bruno, WDSU Investigative Reporter Richard Angelico attended. Bruno says that Angelico heard Cortez's story and was interested in airing it. However, Cortez refused to give out her name on TV then, nor would provide a valid Social Security number to confirm her identity.
Bruno says the prostitute told him she was worried about the negative effect her appearance on television making these claims would have on her daughter. Without a valid identity to make the claim, Angelico dropped the story. Mr. Angelico confirmed this story and his reasons for not pursuing it.
The refusal to go public was not the only thing that brought Cortez's integrity under question. Some of her statements did contradict one another. In one of her comments, that one of the witnesses provided, Cortez stated that she had spent the previous evening at a Casino and won five thousand dollars. A short time later, in the same interview, she claimed that she did not have enough money to pay her rent-hardly consistent points.
After the initial story was published, a two-month search uncovered Cortez's whereabouts. She was finally located in Atlanta. After her identity was confirmed, she and a friend spoke briefly on a telephone interview. At that time, she simply confirmed the allegations about her to this newspaper and stated, "I stand by my comments" to Bruno and all that the affair occurred.
The story took on an extra political dimension in the last week of December of 2003, when a senior Democratic source revealed a series of attacks that were planned against Vitter. Foremost amongst them was that the controversy over Wendy Cortez. He contended that the allegations will become central to the Senatorial campaign.
Supporters of Vitter flatly deny Bruno's charges. They accuse him of having political motivations, and question the veracity of Cortez's story.
"I know it's not true. I don't give it any credence," said Jim St. Raymond, political consultant to David Vitter.
Vitter's official spokesperson, Tonya Newman, said the motivation is revenge because Vitter defeated Dave Treen in the First District Congressional election to replace Bob Livingston two years ago. Bruno was a supporter of Treen's.
"All these rumors are obviously untrue. They are coming from his [Vitter's] enemies, and they have not been successful politically, so they are going after him personally -- and his family. I think it's significant to know that these people have had a vendetta against Vitter since he was in the Legislature," Newman said.
Bruno, who supplied documentation of detailed accounts of his meetings with Cortez, along with specific testimony that she provided against the congressman, claims that he only came forward with the prostitute's name and personal information when pressed as a means to protect his integrity after Bruno was attacked on a statewide radio show.Update: Is Tidmore a terrible speller? Or what?