Tail of Two Wendys
Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) might have a problem of too many Wendys. A former prostitute from New Orleans named Wendy Cortez on Tuesday detailed the relationship she claims to have had with the scandal-plagued Senator. Vitter, who admitted to a “serious sin in my past” after his phone number turned up in the phone records of the alleged “D.C. Madam,” has a wife named Wendy — and two Wendys were too much for the Senator, the former hooker says. [IMGCAP(1)]
Cortez, joined by Hustler publisher Larry Flynt, told reporters on Tuesday that Vitter had been a regular client of hers, visiting her two or three times a week for several months in 1999. Cortez says she eventually suggested that they move the relationship outside the brothel where she worked, and she gave the Senator her real name for the first time. Vitter abruptly stopped using her services after she revealed that she, too, was a Wendy, a fact that apparently spooked her Senatorial john.
“She deserves to know the truth,” Cortez said of Vitter’s wife.
Flynt said Cortez’s tale passed the muster of a polygraph test, and Cortez said she was going public with her story because Vitter has denied reports that he had visited prostitutes in New Orleans, specifically Cortez. “Those stories are not true,” Vitter said in July of his reported Big Easy extramarital activities. Those denials prompted Cortez to open up. “I don’t like being called a liar,” she told reporters.
Vitter’s press secretary said in a statement Tuesday that the Senator would not comment on the matter.
And Cortez might be getting even more off her chest and baring even more than she already has — she’s slated to appear in the January issue of Hustler.
And in other strange developments in the D.C. Madam scandal, accused madam Deborah Jeane Palfrey announced on Tuesday that she’s seeking to subpoena some big names, including Hollywood Madam Heidi Fleiss and New York Post gossip scribe Cindy Adams. Palfrey said in an e-mail that she wants Fleiss to testify about a pattern of “outrageous government behavior” in prosecutions like her own. And Palfrey says she wants to know how Adams got information that was “under court seal” and hinted that the prosecution was using media outlets to smear her.
Sweat Charity. With all the ethics rules changes of late, there wasn’t even a whiff of impropriety at the ninth annual Hoops for Hope basketball game that pitted Members of Congress against lobbyists Monday night. (See photos, p. 28.) The Members’ team coach, Rep. Kenny Hulshof (R-Mo.), made sure everything was squeaky clean, going so far as to pay for the Congressional and staff team’s uniforms out of his own pocket.
The event, which took place at The George Washington University’s Charles E. Smith Athletic Center, raised more than $60,000 for Horton’s Kids, The Luke Tiahrt Foundation — named after the son of Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.) who committed suicide — and for a single-parent scholarship fund for St. Anthony Catholic School in D.C.
“The play is to tell the lobbyists, ‘How much is this worth to you?’” Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) joked before tip-off. “They usually turn up gimpy in the fourth quarter.” But that wheeling and dealing didn’t appear to help the Congressional team, whose roster included Reps. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.), John Shimkus (R-Ill.), Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), Ron Kind (D-Wis.), Tiahrt, Hulshof and Flake, as well as Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.). The lawmakers lost for the first time in six years in a 45-36 finish. Hulshof’s explanation: “With the new ethics rules everything is so transparent, we couldn’t keep our plays secret.”
Lyrics Leaders. That iconic, spontaneous chorus of “God Bless America” that broke out on the Capitol steps after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks has morphed into an annual, not-so-spontaneous ritual where lawmakers of both parties take an extremely brief musical timeout from their usual partisan bickering.
After Monday evening’s brief candle-lit ceremony on the Capitol steps, Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.) recalled the spontaneity and unity of the event six years earlier, when bipartisanship ruled the day. In an HOH version of “Behind the Music,” Baird revealed the genesis of that now-legendary musical coming-together: He and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) were the ones who started the patriotic outburst, he tells HOH. “We held hands and started singing,” Baird remembers, noting that they haven’t made much of their roles that day.
Baird has now become the target of some Democratic Party activists for voicing support for the troop increase in Iraq and opposition to a pullout, after he had opposed the Iraq War from the beginning. He now laments the supercharged partisan atmosphere that surrounds the Iraq War, but said he’s getting a lot of support out of the blue from regular folks.
“A ticket checker at the airport told me, ‘You know, I’ve got two boys over there and it means the world to me,’” Baird said as he held one of his daughters on the Capitol steps. “That means a lot.”
Going Once … Oh, it is so on. Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) is throwing down a good-natured gauntlet at Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas). The two men are co- auctioneers for an upcoming charity auction for the Arlington Pediatric Center, and Crowley is bringing a difficult-to-top item to put up on the block, HOH hears. Take that, Culberson.
Crowley was on hand during last week’s Grammys on the Hill celebration honoring music legend Quincy Jones, and he brought a guitar with him to the event and cajoled a slew of Grammy-winning musicians to sign it.
The guitar, which now bears the scrawls of some superstars, including Jones himself, looks to be a prize. But don’t count Culberson out. A spokesman tells HOH he’s offering up a Congressional Club cookbook and a personally guided tour of the White House and the Capitol for the Sept. 16 charity event. When HOH seemed a tad skeptical that those items would rival a celebrity-signed guitar, the Culberson spokesman seemed a touch defensive, noting that his boss is an avid history buff. “He gives really good tours,” he said.
Breaking News. NBC News Justice Department producer Mike Kosnar and LuAnn Canipe, communications director for Rep. Brad Miller (D-N.C.), are no strangers to deadlines. Just ask little Chet Canipe Kosnar, who was born to the newsy couple on Sept. 5 — ahead of deadline, of course. Canipe tells HOH the family is health, happy and resting.
Steven T. Dennis contributed to this report.
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