I originally thought I’d be writing David Vitter’s political obituary after Jason Brad Berry of American Zombie published an interview with Wendy Ellis who claims to be his former mistress. Furthermore, Ms. Ellis alleged that Vitter got her pregnant, demanded that she get an abortion, but she refused and had the child. The abortion allegation could have destroyed Vitter’s candidacy since he’s on record as a down-the-line hardcore “pro-lifer,” but it appears to be backfiring.
I’m not sure what to think at this point since both Vitter and Ellis are liars. Given my own misgivings about the entire mishigas, I’d like y’all to draw your own conclusions. Here are some links for your perusal:
10/17- Chasing Ghosts, Finding Skeletons. This is Jason’s account of chasing down the story.
10/18:- David Vitter- Interview with Wendy Ellis, October 13.2015. This post includes video of Berry’s interview with Ms. Ellis/Williams/Cortez or whatever the hell her name is.
10/19- David Vitter “responds.” This is a marginally legible scan of a letter Ms. Ellis/Williams/Cortez wrote that is covered in the segment below:
10/18- Vitter update: inconsistencies come to light. Gambit publisher and veteran political pundit Clancy DuBos is a long time supporter of American Zombie, so he jumped on Berry’s initial story. On Sunday his story was pulled and replaced by this one. Here are several money passages:
The woman, identified by Berry as Wendy Ellis, has an extensive criminal record (including forgery and theft) and has made prior inconsistent statements that undercut her overall credibility. She did pass a polygraph test in 2007 that reportedly verified her having a sexual relationship for “at least four months” with Vitter. Vitter in 2007 denied all stories relating to prostitutes in New Orleans, but he has since refused to discuss anything related to the woman’s claims, including the polygraph or Berry’s recent online story.
According to court documents in Arkansas, Ellis (then known as Wendy Williams) in September 2001 sent a handwritten plea to a judge who had just sentenced her to 10 years in prison for violating the terms of an earlier probation. In that 2001 letter, she makes several statements that contradict portions of what she has since told Berry and others. Two of those statements stand out:
• Ellis has said to Berry and others since 2007 that she worked for an escort service in New Orleans and she met Vitter through that service. In her 2001 letter to the judge, she wrote: “Now, when I stood before you, I was accused of working for an Escort Service and stripping. Sir, yes I danced as I told you but I never worked for an Escort Service.” That statement to the judge directly contradicts her later statements about working for a service in New Orleans in the late 1990s.
[Bloggers note: I omitted the second statement. The one above is the money quote for our purposes.]
There’s little doubt that the Vitter campaign, or someone close to it, was the source of the second story as well as one by WDSU’s Jonathan Shelley. Ms. Ellis/Williams/Cortez is now telling a more elaborate story: that she was Vitter’s “kept woman” for 3 years, which led to pregnancy, NOT getting the Vitter demanded abortion and putting the baby up for adoption. This is a new twist to her public story, which, apparently Hustler declined to publish. I have no idea if any of this is true since no supporting evidence has been posted such as a birth certificate. That’s something tangible that could be published without compromising the identity of the alleged “love child.”
Before this weekend, this was a classic she said, he said story. It has become a she lied, he lied story. I quite frankly don’t believe either of them unless and until there’s some corroboration of Ms. Ellis/Williams/Cortez’s story. I agree with my friend Lamar White Jr who, after initially supporting, the story has become as skeptical as I am:
Stories like Wendy Ellis’s are provocative and sensational and, I’ll admit, a little bit of fun for people like me, aficionados of Louisiana politics. But ultimately, I want what is best for the state, my home, not what generates the most attention to my small corner of the Internet. Ellis’s story, in my humble opinion, is destructive, because it is riddled with huge holes; it is flawed; and with all due respect to the reporter, it was not properly vetted. In fairness, Berry promises more reporting on the issue, and I hope that he follows through. I know him to be a passionate advocate for Louisiana and a fierce champion of accountability. But it would be a huge mistake and reckless miscalculation to assume Wendy Ellis will be given any credibility at all after next Saturday.
The story is either there, or it is not. Right now, the story isn’t standing; it’s crumbling.
This whole episode illustrates why I was leery of using Vitter’s “serious sin” as a campaign issue/weapon. I wrote about what I called the pursuit of Vitter’s diaper 5 weeks ago. Vitter has subsequently struggled in the polls and I am concerned that a backlash to this story will only help his candidacy. To paraphrase an old adage, when you try to kill the King, you better be certain that he’s really dead.
David Vitter has been written off as politically dead many times but the bastard is too mean to die. Absent any more tangible evidence, this story is, more likely than not, going to boomerang, backfire or some other B word. Vitter is despised by many people, myself included, but that doesn’t make this story true. Wishful thinking is a poor substitute for proof.