Legal Filings

Legal Filings
Sep 22, 2010

CREW Files Ethics Complaint Against Senator David Vitter (R-LA)

Washington, D.C. - Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee against Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) over his improper use of taxpayer funds to subsidize the personal expenses of staff member Brent Furer and for lying about Mr. Furer's legislative portfolio.

Mr. Furer is infamous for brutally assaulting his girlfriend in 2008, while handling women's issues for Sen. Vitter. According to Senate financial records, at taxpayer expense Mr. Furer flew to Louisiana in 2007 to appear in court to face a DWI charge, and again in 2008 to sign his probation agreement in the same matter. Sen. Vitter's office claimed the senator was unaware of the court proceedings.

Notably, the entire time Mr. Furer worked for Sen. Vitter, he traveled to Louisiana at on the taxpayer's dime six times, making it a remarkable coincidence that two of those trips coincided with Mr. Furer's court dates. Moreover, one of these trips took place while the Senate was in session and debating an amendment Sen. Vitter had introduced that fell under Mr. Furer's legislative responsibilities. Under Senate rules, taxpayer funds may not be used for personal trips.

Although Sen. Vitter's spokesperson claimed Mr. Furer was "significantly disciplined" for attacking his girlfriend and was allegedly suspended from work for three months, Senate financial records show he was paid for all but five days during that period.

"Taxpayers should not pay for violent criminals to go on holiday. Yet it seems clear that Senator Vitter's idea of significant discipline for a women's issues staffer who stabbed and threatened his girlfriend is what most people would call a paid vacation," said Sloan. "What could be more offensive than that?"

There are also questions as to how Mr. Furer both found and paid for his lawyer, Thomas J. Kelly, Jr., a partner at the Venable LLP law firm. Mr. Kelly's biography describes him as a "seasoned white collar criminal defense and trial lawyer" who "has defended individuals in high profile criminal cases." Such legal counsel doesn't come cheap, and that year Mr. Furer was paid only $48,000. "One has to wonder exactly how Mr. Furer could afford Mr. Kelly's services and, in fact, how Mr. Furer even found Mr. Kelly in the first place, given that D.C. Superior Court is not exactly the usual haunt of lawyers from white shoe firms."

CREW has requested the Ethics Committee fully investigate Sen. Vitter's misuse of federal funds and his demonstrably untrue statements about Mr. Furer's employment on his staff.

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