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feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

July-09-10

Vitter Dismisses Controversy Surrounding Aide's Violent Attack

Senator David Vitter (R-LA) offered his first remarks on Tuesday regarding the controversy surrounding his former aid, Brent Furer, who was convicted of attacking and threatening to kill his girlfriend with a knife in 2008. Furer resigned from his position last month after news sources broke the story of his arrest and conviction, reports ABC News. Reporters in Baton Rouge covering the start of Vitter�s re-election campaign questioned the Senator as to why he allowed Furer to serve on his staff for two years after the violent incident occurred. According to ABC News Vitter called the event "old news" and felt that disciplinary action taken by his office two years ago was a sufficient response.

Reporters also questioned Vitter as to why Furer was appointed to handle women's issues in his DC legislative office, even after being convicted of attacking his girlfriend. According to CBS News, Vitter denied Furer�s assignment to women's affairs, saying, "That�s just one of the several issues that have been completely misreported." He continued, "Tonya Newman, Nicole Hebert in my office are assigned to those positions. That's always been the case." According to research done by Talking Points Memo, Tonya Newman currently works as Vitter�s Deputy Chief of Staff, having previously worked as Chief of Staff and Communications Director, while Nicole Hebert serves as a women's issues liaison from his Lafayette office.

Multiple legislative guide books and directories publishing the positions and contact information of Capitol Hill staffers list Furer as Vitter's legislative assistant on women's issues, reports Talking Points Memo. Additionally, Beth Meeks, executive director of the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, claims that shortly before Furer's resignation in June, Vitter assigned Furer to meet with her to discuss domestic violence legislation. According to ABC News, Meeks was told that Furer was Vitter's "point man" on women's affairs.

When asked again at a second campaign stop on Tuesday about Furer's assignment to women's issues Vitter again denied the allegation, saying that Furer worked on "abortion issues," but not "women�s affairs," according to CBS News.

Vitter will face Democratic Representative Charlie Melancon in his reelection race this fall.

Media Resources: ABC News 7/7/10; CBS News 7/8/10; Talking Points Memo 7/7/10


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