Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) on Friday sent a letter to the Senate Ethics Committee requesting an investigation of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) for what he calls “attempted bribery.”
The letter responded to reports that Senate Democrats were shopping around a plan to deny government contributions to lawmakers’ health care plans if there is “probable cause” they solicited prostitutes. The proposal would effectively dredge up Vitter’s 2007 prostitution scandal unless he stopped pressuring the Senate to vote on an amendment repealing federal contributions to legislators’ health plans.
The Democrats’ proposal was first reported by Politico.
From the letter:
In response to my proposal and call for a vote on my amendment to reverse the Office of Personnel Management’s Congressional exemption from the Affordable Care Act, Senator Reid and Boxer have apparently lead an effort to employ political scare tactics, personal attacks, and threats that would affect each Senator’s personal finances (i.e. bribery). News reports indicate that one of these proposals would prohibit the employer contribution to any “Member of Congress who has offered an amendment in the House of Representatives or the Senate that would prohibit such contributions on behalf of other individuals, or who has voted for the adoption of such an amendment.” Such an arrangement, whereby the Senate Majority Leader and the Chair of this Committee are threatening to take away their colleagues’ healthcare coverage subsidy if they do not vote a certain way, at worst constitutes bribery and a quid pro quo arrangement, and at best amounts to improper conduct reflecting discreditably on the Senate.
Update: Reid’s office responded in a statement late Friday:
“Senator Vitter’s charges are absurd and baseless,” spokeswoman Kristen Orthman told TPM. “This is nothing more than Senator Vitter’s desperate attempt to change the subject from his previous ethics issues.”
Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.