Embattled Louisiana Senator David Vitter (R) went on record this week as backing lawsuits that challenge President Obama’s citizenship in court. Vitter acknowledged that as Senator he lacked the standing to bring any such “birther” suits. Vitter continued “[b]ut I support conservative legal organizations and others who would bring that to court. I that that is the valid and most possibly effective grounds to do it”.
Now Vitter is not known for being a voice of reason in the Senate, and despite the bumps along his re-election bid he’s certainly got the hard right vote locked up. So why the need to pander to the birther fringe?
Perhaps Sen. Vitter is hoping to take attention away from a string of bad-news stories that show Vitter as anything but the moral beacon he holds himself out to be. For starters there’s Brent Furer, an aide to Senator Vitter who recently resigned after he had been arrested for attacking his ex-girlfriend with a knife. Vitter knew about the arrest and kept him on staff until ABC News broke the story. Amazingly, Furer had been posted in Vitter’s Washington office to handle “women’s issues” for the Senator.
Vitter also faced a federal complaint from the non-partisan Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics which accused the Senator of accepting illegal campaign contributions from a California dry cleaning company that wanted stimulus funds. According to the complaint, the company reimbursed four of its employees and their spouses for $38,400 in contributions. At least one employee has admitted to making the contributions and being reimbursed for them.
Or perhaps Vitter is seeking to further distance himself from all those diapers and prostitutes allegations.
But more likely Vitter is swinging even harder to the right because of a serious and last minute primary challenge in the form of Chet Traylor. Traylor is a former Louisiana Supreme Court Justice and well-connected in Republican political and business circles. Not only can Traylor challenge Vitter on his pro-business platform, but he can challenge Vitter on his moral-majority platform as well. Traylor was first elected to the court based in large part from the strength of support from the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry and many expect them to back Traylor over Vitter.
Traylor is also known as a very conservative judge who once wrote an opinion upholding a Louisiana sodomy law which makes him a force to be dealt with considering all of Vitter’s sex scandals and his insistence on running hard with a religious-right platform despite those scandals. Given the timing of the challenge and the substance of the challenger, I’d say Vitter is a little nervous.
photo courtesy of dsb nola via Flickr