Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Maybe you hadn't heard about Vitters assault on a woman in 1993.

From Salon

Mercedes Hernandez, who was involved in Republican politics, testified that she frequently attended local meetings to engage officials on the issues, usually tape-recording the events. At a town hall meeting, Hernandez asked the state representative about a rumor she'd heard that he was supporting a gay-rights bill in the Legislature. Vitter became "enraged by her question, left the podium where he was standing, advanced toward her in a rapid, threatening manner, pushing aside chairs ... and grabbed a portable tape recorder" that Hernandez was holding, according to her legal complaint.

In his legal filings, Vitter denied that he had assaulted Hernandez and instead accused her of trying to set him up by planting the false idea with other attendees that he supported gay rights, a position that is anathema in his religious conservative district. He further accused Hernandez of working with John Treen and his other political enemies by trying to shop a story about the incident to the media.

After a trial, a judge awarded Hernandez $50. "The court finds that Mr. Vitter's demeanor changed when he saw the tape recorder. He became angry, agitated and excited," the judge wrote. "He thought Ms. Hernandez was using her question [about gay rights] as a ruse to 'set him up' and embarrass him." But the judge also admonished Hernandez. "It appears that Ms. Hernandez was rather enjoying the political advantage she seemed to have perceived herself to have gained." Hernandez, who is still active in Republican politics, did not return phone calls from Salon seeking comment.

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