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Sen. Vitter Lays Low Amid Escalating Madam Problem

As of this afternoon, Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) still hadn't moved to quash the subpoena he received three days ago from the so-called D.C. Madam. He worked and voted all week on Capitol Hill, but Vitter assiduously avoided public appearances.

On Tuesday, the day Vitter was subpoenaed by the former owner of an escort service to which he has been linked, Vitter skipped a Louisiana delegation news conference with Rep. Bobby Jindal (R-La.), the state's incoming governor. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D), Rep. Rodney Alexander (R) and outgoing Gov. Kathleen Blanco were all there.

On Thursday of last week, Vitter was conspicuously missing from the limelight as Landrieu and the rest of the Louisiana delegation touted their "$12 Billion Day" - having secured that much money to help the state's continued rebuilding effort from Katrina and provide future storm and flood protection.

But then again, Thursday was the day Hustler magazine provided advance copies to the media of its upcoming January issue featuring the former prostitute who claims she provided services to Vitter in 1999, the year he won a House race in a special election.

And Friday, Vitter walked briskly to and from votes and avoided reporters standing off the Senate floor waiting to pepper various senators with questions.

Vitter's Washington-based defense lawyer, Henry Asbill, didn't return phone calls or an email message from the Sleuth requesting comment on how the senator plans to respond to the subpoena. Served by Deborah Jeane Palfrey, who ran the escort service Pamela Martin & Associates in Washington for more than a decade, the subpoena calls on Vitter to testify in U.S. District Court on Nov. 28.

Palfrey is trying to prove that her business was not a prostitution ring, as the government alleges in its racketeering and money laundering case against her. Vitter, Palfrey's legal theory goes, would be able to help prove that nothing illegal - i.e., sex for money - happened between him and any of the gals working for the escort service.

Vitter has admitted he was a client of Pamela Martin & Associates. As the New Orleans Times Picayune has reported, his telephone number showed up six times on the firm's phone records between 1999 and 2001.

So, to quash or not to quash, that is the question. And neither Vitter's attorney nor the senator himself have anything to say about how the conservative Christian politician will handle the delicate matter of the D.C. Madam.

By Mary Ann Akers  |  November 16, 2007; 6:15 PM ET
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