Watchdog Files Ethics Complaint against Senator John

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More troubles for Sen. David Vitter (R-LA). Washington, D.C. watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has filed an ethics complaint against him, based on his admitted use of the D.C. Madam’s escort service. The basis of the complaint?

Engaging the services of a prostitute violates both District of Columbia and Louisiana criminal law.

The Senate Ethics Manual provides that certain conduct may be improper even though it does not violate specific Senate rules or regulations. Such conduct has been characterized as “improper conduct which may reflect upon the Senate.” This rule is intended to protect the integrity and reputation of the Senate as a whole. The Ethics Manual explains that “improper conduct” is given meaning by considering “generally accepted standards of conduct, the letter and spirit of laws and Rules…”

Whether or not Sen. Vitter is ultimately adjudicated to have broken any criminal laws, the Senate may still discipline him for improper conduct as it has other members in the past.

Unlike in the House, the Senate ethics committee does not require that a member file a complaint in order for it to be heard, so this could potentially become a liability for Vitter.

Update: Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) wants a “full airing” of the prostitute-scandal swirling around Sen. David Vitter (R-LA).