The 2008 case was not the first brush with the law for Furer. Court records and published reports show he has been arrested for driving under the influence at least three times, and once for cocaine possession.
In one instance, in May 2003, police chased Furer's swerving vehicle, and saw what they believed to be Furer and a female passenger fighting as the car crossed back and forth over the center lane divider, according to the arrest report. Furer kept driving after the woman exited the vehicle and was eventually pulled over. The arrest report says his blood alcohol measured .132, and noted that Furer was "very verbally abusive towards the police."
He pleaded guilty to DWI, was placed on probation for one year, and was ordered to serve 32 hours of community service. Papers Furer filed with the court show his service involved painting a New Orleans church, as overseen by the pastor, Rev. Malcolm Richard. Richard also works as one of Sen. Vitter's regional directors.
The dates of Furer's community service also coincide with the dates he was on the payroll of Vitter's senate campaign. On Aug. 2, 2004, for instance, Furer reported doing eight hours of community service at a Salem United Church of Christ camp in New Orleans, under the stewardship of Rev. Richard. Campaign finance records show that on the same date, Furer received $1,500 in payments for "campaign management."
Rev. Richard, reached by cell phone in his Louisiana parish, said Sen. Vitter did not appeal to him to help Furer with his community service. But he did not want to discuss the matter.
"I'm really not supposed to talk," he said. "Everybody makes mistakes in life. We all do. But that's all I'll say."
In addition, Furer was ordered to attend a "victim impact panel" run by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which he attended in 2005, in Howard County, Maryland, while serving on the senator's staff.
Vitter has made outreach to MADD part of his agenda in Washington, posing for a photo with Laura Dean-Mooney, the national president of the organization. On his Facebook page, Sen. Vitter declared, "I met with MADD's National President this morning to discuss additional efforts that can help reduce drunk driving. I look forward to continuing to work with them on ways we can save some of the 12,000 lives every year that are lost in drunk driving incidents."
Another ugly incident occurred in late 2008 when Furer was driving to pick up medication from a Washington area pharmacy. Furer, a former Marine and veteran of the first Gulf War, has told lawyers he takes medication for treatment of post traumatic stress disorder.
The ride turned ugly when Furer and another former Marine, Gregory Blake became caught up in a violent road rage incident in late 2008. As Furer allegedly chased Blake through the streets of Washington in their SUVS, Furer struck a motorcyclist, throwing the cyclist to the pavement and breaking his femur, according to a lawsuit that followed. When police arrived, Furer flashed his senate ID and told them he worked for Sen. Vitter, according to court records. Furer's insurance company settled the civil case.
Blake said he was outraged to learn where Furer worked.
"That guy should not be working for the U.S. government," he said.
After ABC News sent questions to Furer, Retired Marine General James E. Livingston wrote to defend the senator's decision to keep him on staff. Furer, the general said, "witnessed unspeakable tragedies most in life are fortunate enough to have never witnessed" while serving in Kuwait.
"This is clearly politically driven and it's unfortunate that some are willing to ruin the reputation of a Marine veteran for a political story," Livingston wrote. "When faced with Brent's troubles, Sen. Vitter could have chosen political expediency and allowed Brent to flounder on his own in a time of need. Instead, he tried to allow Brent the best opportunity to seek help and get better while never downplaying the severity of the charges."