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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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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