Sen. David Vitter on Monday denied having relationships with New Orleans prostitutes, a week after admitting links to a Washington escort service that federal prosecutors allege was a prostitution ring.
Vitter emerged from a week of seclusion by appearing at a news conference in suburban Metairie while holding hands with his wife, Wendy. He denied the New Orleans prostitution allegations and offered no indication that he would resign. He said he planned to fly Monday night to Washington to resume work in the Senate.
“I want to again offer my deep, sincere apologies to all those I have let down and disappointed with actions from my past,” Vitter said. “I am completely responsible, and I am so very, very sorry.”
Vitter said that the events in Washington took place years ago, and that he and his wife had undergone marriage counseling.
“No matter how long ago it was, I know this hurt the relationship of trust I have enjoyed with so many of you, and I have a lot of work to do to rebuild that,” he said.
On July 9, Vitter apologized for committing a “very serious sin in my past,” acknowledging that his Washington phone number was among those called several years ago by an escort service run by Deborah Jeane Palfrey.
Federal prosecutors accuse Palfrey of racketeering by running a prostitution ring that netted more than $2 million over 13 years, beginning in 1993. She contends her escort service, Pamela Martin and Associates, was a legitimate business.
Telephone records show that the service called Vitter’s number five times from 1999 to 2001, while he was a U.S. representative.
Also last week, the former madam of a New Orleans brothel that was shut down several years ago claimed Vitter was a client in the 1990s. However, her defense lawyer and a U.S. attorney who prosecuted her said Vitter’s name never came up in that investigation.
The Times-Picayune newspaper in New Orleans also reported that Vitter had used the services of another New Orleans prostitute.
Vitter, 46, referred vaguely to the New Orleans-based reports but said that “those stories are not true.”
The first-term Republican said he has worked hard on his marriage and on living by the values he has long espoused as a politician.
“I believe I received forgiveness from God. I know I did from Wendy,” he said. “Unfortunately, my admission has incurred some longtime political enemies and those hoping to profit from this situation to spread falsehoods, too.”
Vitter did not take questions at his news conference Monday, but Wendy Vitter stepped to the podium and called her husband “my best friend.”
“When David and I dealt with this years ago, I forgave David and made the decision to love him and recommit to our marriage,” she said. “To forgive is not always the easy choice, but it was and is the right choice for me.”
Vitter was elected to Congress in 1999 to fill the vacancy left when Rep. Robert Livingston, R-La., resigned amid disclosures of marital indiscretions. Vitter was elected to the Senate in 2004.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said she would have no comment on the matter until she speaks with Vitter.