Louisiana Politics: Of Gumshoes, Gobshites, and Goobers

It’s nut cutting time in the Gret Stet Goober race. We’re headed to the homestretch in one of the weirdest and most exciting elections I’ve ever experienced. This is one of those times where events are in the saddle. We’re in for a helluva ride, y’all.

There’s a whole lot of gobshitery and malakatude going on. So, I think the best way to break down recent events is by slicing them up in segments like a satsuma or an Odds & Sods post:

Gumshoes, Spyboys, and Sheriffs, Oh My: After a few quiet weeks on the shamus front, things have exploded again. This time Bitter Vitter struck the first blow at a forum on Monday in Red Stick. As usual it was below the belt and disingenuous at best:

Vitter came closest to making news on this front, when he linked his suspicions about John Cummings, the wealthy trial lawyer and Edwards donor taped by a Vitter p.i. at a Metairie coffee shop, to Danny DeNoux, a private investigator who was also at the table along with Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand. DeNoux has admitted he found a source for a blogger who’s been investigating Vitter’s past, and at the forum Monday, Vitter said Denoux also was a target of the Vitter campaign’s surveillance, which he deemed neither illegal nor improper.

“That person was researching what I believe is an illegal scheme” to “pay for false testimony for witnesses against me,” Vitter said. He said he had already contacted federal authorities over the matter.

This is vintage Vitter. He’s always been fond of the lie, deny, and deflect approach to scandal management. Vitter’s vacuous claims of victimization, however, resulted in Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand holding a presser just in time to make the news *before* the goober debate last night:

Normand said the videotaped interview in his possession — which was captured on one of the same cameras used to tape Normand and his pals in the coffee shop — ends with the woman signing the affidavit the Vitter camp wanted.

He said it was shot at an IHOP in Hammond on Oct. 20 — precisely when Wendy Cortez, who in 2007 claimed that Vitter had paid her regularly for sex, was resurfacing with even more salacious claims about the senator to a New Orleans-based blogger that the Vitter campaign wanted to quash. Normand said the Vitter operative was particularly concerned about keeping the woman’s claims out of the “mainstream media.”

Normand said the Vitter operative brought an affidavit to the woman that already included her claims.

“It was one of the most obnoxious interviews I’ve seen in my 38 years of law enforcement,” Normand told reporters. “He came in with a prepared affidavit to sign and spent probably 30 minutes suggesting what she should write in between the lines and put her initials on as it related to trying to discredit the story of Wendy Cortez.” (Cortez also goes by the last name of Ellis.)

Normand said he will meet with FBI officials on Thursday to discuss the videos and other findings. He did not say what he thinks the federal interest in the materials might be.

Normand’s account shows why Vitter claimed that nefarious Obama liberal forces were paying people to lie about him. It’s what his own operatives were up to. It’s political jiu-jitsu at its sleaziest, and I’m not IHOPPING to conclusions either…

The whole Normand-Vitter dispute is unlikely to result in charges before the November, 21st runoff, but it could down the road. Politically, it has the desired effect of keeping Vitter on the ropes. A good thing because I think it’s going to be closer than the polls currently indicate. One thing I know for sure: If you’re still discussing your gumshoe-hooker issues this late in the campaign, you’re losing.

I think we’ll be discussing the legal and political ramifications of Team Vitter’s Nixonian malefactions for quite some time after the runoff. Diaper Dave has a Senate seat to defend if he loses, after all. According to Deep Blog, some of his associates may have even more to lose. Stay tuned.

Jason Brad Berry On The Latest Developments: One thing that’s exciting to me about the Gret Stet Goober race is how many of the players I know. Mongo no need scorecard. Here’s the world’s only investigative Zombie’s instant reaction on Facebook to Normand’s press conference. (I cannot figure out how to insert a FB status update in the blog, so I cut and pasted the comments with Jason’s permission.) He’s quoting a WWL-TV.com story by David Hammer:

“Normand said the owner of the private investigation firm tried to coerce the friend to sign an affidavit saying Ellis had lied about Vitter and her relationship with Vitter in an interview with blogger Jason Berry.

“He goes on to say, ‘I’d like you to say that Jason Berry has made payment to several witnesses,'” said Normand. “‘That would be kind of true too. If I could show them that Jason Berry is paying people off, that would kill this story.'””

Bearden thinks I am paying women to lie to me, I’m pretty sure he had me mixed up with his client, David Vitter.

Here’s what I want to know, was Bearden paying this woman to lie and say I was paying women to lie? You understand that?

He’s trying to get a woman I’ve never met to say I’m paying her to get her to lie? He’s asking her to lie, himself. How is this even legal?

Here’s what Jason had to say an hour later:

Let me try to straighten this out for you.

After I published my story, Vitter’s camp freaked out and sic’d his high dollar, republican, oil-industry P.I. firm from Texas on me…Bearden and Associates. This asshole went around trying to find former acquaintances of Wendy Ellis and coerce them to say I was paying Wendy to lie and even other people to lie in support of Wendy’s story.

This is patently false….I never paid anyone for anything nor was I paid by anyone for anything.

In other words, the guy was trying to get people to provide false testimony against Wendy and me in order to discredit the story I published.

My first question is…did Bearden pay this woman or anyone else for this false testimony? Did he pay them to lie and say I had paid them to lie?

My second question is this….Bearden Associates were paid by David Vitter for “legal services” not private investigative services according to Vitter’s campaign finance reports. If that’s what they were doing when they were prodding this woman to lie (providing legal services) then was Bearden coercing false testimony which he may have turned around and delivered to the FBI in an affidavit?

That’s…well….that’s fucking huge. Criminally and civilly.

If he is going to claim he was not acting as a lawyer but instead he was acting as a P.I…..then David Vitter has filed false campaign finance records.

Which is also fucking huge.

Which one is it? Either way, someone has broken the law here….says the “shady” blogger.

Here’s the deal: I know Jason and can vouch for his honesty and integrity. There is no fucking way that he would have EVER paid a witness to lie about David Vitter’s sleazy escapades. Suborning perjury is not his style. Shrinks have a word to describe Bitter Vitter’s specious allegations: PROJECTION. Or as Philip Marlowe might have said at this point: If the gumshoe fits, wear it.

LPB Wonkery: After the wild events of the past few days, the Gret Stet Goober debate on Louisiana Public Broadcasting was an anti-climax. John Bel Edwards started and finished strong, but Vitter rather adeptly played rope-a-dope in the middle of the debate. I’d score it a narrow victory for Edwards but perception is everything in these matters. And I’m not exactly an unbiased observer. I’ll take Gomer for Goober over the Gobshite Goper any day.

Some of Vitter’s whoppers made me yell at the teevee and post on the Tweeter Tube. He kept claiming that he had a “balanced” approach to budgetary matters. WTF? He’s a down-the-line supply-side taxcutting Republican of the sort that drove the economy into the proverbial ditch. He also claimed to have NOT signed the infamous Grover Norquist no-new taxes pledge. It’s another example of Vittery slipperiness: he’s signed the Federal pledge but not the Gret Stet one. It’s a distinction without a difference. Or is that slippery Vitteriness? Another distinction without a difference.

It looks as if the OBAMA, OBAMA, OBAMA attack ads may not be working. Vitter did take the President’s name in vain, but not as often as expected. He trotted out some new Democratic straw men to set ablaze: the Landrieus and Dollar Bill Jefferson. That’s right, the former klepto Congressman who’s currently in the slammer. It’s a two-fer slur: race and corruption. Mentioning Dollar Bill shows how desperate Diaper Dave is; voters have short memories and most don’t remember who Dollar Bill is, or that he ran and lost for Gret Stet Goober in 1999. That’s so 20th Century.

The questions were on the wonky side, which meant that the Vitter sleaze factor was only alluded to in the first 50 or so minutes of the debate. I was impressed at what a cool customer John Bel Edwards was when under assault by Bitter Vitter. He was a paratrooper in the Army so I guess that comes with the territory. I was less impressed with his ability to pivot and counterpunch. He spent too much of the debate on the defensive, and the moderators allowed Vitter to drone on and on and on. I guess Vitter wanted to run out the clock before his diaper starting leaking…

There *were* a few memorable exchanges during the debate.  Here they are via Elizabeth’s Crisp account in the Advocate:

But the final minutes of Tuesday night’s debate were peppered with direct hits and personal digs.

“You are a liar, a cheater and a stealer, and I don’t tolerate that,” Edwards told a visibly agitated Vitter.

Vitter accused Edwards, a military veteran, of not living “by the Honor Code.”

“You are completely disingenuous,” he said.


Asked about the negative tone of the campaign, Vitter pointed to the constant stream of negative attack ads he’s faced.

“There’s nobody who has been the target of more negative campaigning than me,” he said, noting that several political action committees have been created to attack him. He only alluded to the central theme of those ads and a recent one from Edwards’ campaign: Vitter’s prostitution scandal.

“You act holier than thou,” Vitter said. “You have the most vicious negative ad up right now.”

He was referring to Edwards’ recent ad that claims Vitter put “prostitutes over patriots” because cell phone and voting records put him in contact with the D.C. madam the same day he missed a vote honoring fallen soldiers in Congress.

“If it’s a low blow, then that’s because of where you live, senator,” Edwards said, alluding to what he called Vitter’s “extracurricular activities.”

The debate was not as exciting as it sounds, but there were nuggets to be mined. Overall, I doubt that many votes were changed. It was Tuesday night on public broadcasting, after all.

The candidates will play what my friend Jeffrey calls debateball one more time next Monday. Since Vitter only appeared in two televised forums during the primary, his very participation means that he knows that he’s in trouble. Here’s hoping more shit hits the fan between now and then. Given how this campaign has gone, the odds are *much* better than Fifty Fifty:


2 thoughts on “Louisiana Politics: Of Gumshoes, Gobshites, and Goobers

  1. I guess the question for me as a rank outsider but semi-amused observer is: Do all these shenanigans redound to Vitter’s benefit or detriment in Louisiana?

    1. It helps him with hardcore wingnuts but hurts him with other folks. Republican women are up in arms about him right now. Hopefully, they’ll vote for Edwards but they might just sit it out.

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