Taxpayer Cash for Aide’s DWI Trip?

Lauren Victoria Burke/WDCPIX.com

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A month and a half ago, it emerged that an aide to Sen. David Vitter (R-La.)—an aide handling women’s issues, no less—had pled guilty in 2008 to threatening to kill his girlfriend and attacking her. With a knife. ABC News broke the story about Brent Furer, who subsequently resigned from his position, and who, in addition to the attack charges, had been arrested three times for driving under the influence and once for cocaine possession.

Now, a follow-up investigation into the aide’s record raises a new issue: Did taxpayer money fund one of Furer’s trips to Louisiana for a DWI-related court hearing? The Advocate of Louisiana found that expense reports in Vitter’s office show that two trips Furer made to Louisiana in 2007 and 2008 coincide with dates the aide showed up in court for a December 2004 DWI arrest. (A Vitter spokesman told The Advocate that Vitter “did not know about any Baton Rouge DWI incident until it was reported in the press just this past June…It is standard for our Washington legislative staff to visit Louisiana periodically for meetings.”)

More on Furer from The Advocate:

The US Senate’s expense records show Vitter’s office account was billed $634.20 for transportation for Furer leaving Washington, DC, on Oct. 12, 2007 to New Orleans and returning on Oct. 18, 2007.

Furer appeared in court on Oct. 17, 2007, according to Baton Rouge City Court records, then was referred to the probation division.

The US Senate records also show that Vitter’s office expense account was tapped for $746 for Furer’s transportation from Washington, D.C., to Baton Rouge and New Orleans leaving Aug. 5, 2008, and returning Aug. 14, 2008.

Furer signed a probation agreement in Baton Rouge on Aug 7, 2008, attesting that he would fulfill the conditions of the sentence.

A bench warrant was issued on Furer in connection with the last DWI for failure to appear in court on June 1, 2009, according to city court records. The hearing was to consider his non-compliance with the terms of his sentence.

With Vitter up for re-election this year, you can’t help but wonder whether, or how much, the Furer furor will hurt his campaign. Then again, “Diaper Dave” Vitter has overcome worse.

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Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

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