The madame, her girls and the pols

043007sexscandal.jpgNothing rocks official Washington like a good, juicy sex scandal and the town has thirsted for one since the tawdry tales of Bill Clinton, Monica Lewinsky and creative use of cigars.

Now the nation’s capital has a good one, thanks to a quirky madame and her $300 an hour “escort” service that threatens to topple the high and mighty from their self-righteous thrones.

The emerging scandal has already taken down one Senior Bush aide and insiders say other administration officials and perhaps a Congressman or two will follow.

“Looks like a lust for power wasn’t the only lust driving these folks,” says one investigator close to the case.

Reports Sue Anne Pressley Montes of The Washington Post:

“Miz Julia” doled out a steady stream of advice, both practical and philosophical.

From her California home, she e-mailed tips to the 132 women who worked across the Washington area for the firm Pamela Martin & Associates. Her newsletters, now excerpted in court records, were a virtual how-to manual for avoiding all kinds of trouble in a business said to specialize in erotic fantasies.

“One never quite knows where evil, i.e., the vice squad is lurking in this business,” read one arch entry from 1995. “The misogynists get a real kick out of surprising (shocking) you girls, when you give them the opportunity!!! . . . Therefore, you are to lock, double lock, triple lock all doors!!! . . . Figure it out, before they ‘get cha’!!!”

Miz Julia was the pseudonym for Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the woman at the center of a sex scandal that has caused a deputy secretary of state to resign and has lawyers calling around town trying to keep their clients’ names out of public view. A one-time law student, Palfrey ran for 13 years what she insists was a legal escort service. Federal prosecutors allege she was providing $300-an-hour prostitutes, and a grand jury indicted her in February on federal racketeering charges.

Palfrey piqued fascination — and anxiety — by first threatening to sell phone records that could unveil thousands of clients, and then handing them over, apparently for free, to ABC News. She is scheduled to appear tomorrow in U.S. District Court in the District.

On Friday, Randall L. Tobias resigned as deputy secretary of state one day after confirming to Brian Ross of ABC that he had patronized the Pamela Martin firm. Speaking yesterday on “Good Morning America,” Ross said Tobias told him Tobias’s number was on Palfrey’s phone records because he had called “to have gals come over to the condo to give me a massage.” There had been “no sex,” Ross quoted Tobias as saying, and that recently he has used another service, “with Central American gals,” for massages.

Tobias, who is 65 and married, was director of U.S. Foreign Assistance and administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development. He previously held a top job in the Bush administration overseeing AIDS relief, in which he promoted abstinence and a policy requiring grant recipients to swear they oppose prostitution.

Palfrey’s flamboyant attorney, Montgomery Blair Sibley, said Friday that he has been contacted by five lawyers recently, asking whether their clients’ names are on Palfrey’s list of 10,000 to 15,000 phone numbers. Some, Sibley said, have inquired about whether accommodations could be made to keep their identities private. ABC is expected to air a report on Palfrey and her clients on “20/20” on May 4, during sweeps.

More revelations are in the offing. Ross said the list includes the names of some “very prominent people,” as well as a number of women with “important and serious jobs” who had worked as escorts for the firm.