Aug. 12, 2010 -- Democratic challenger Charlie Melancon has released an ad attacking Sen. David Vitter (R.-La.) for continuing to employ an aide who had been convicted of attacking his girlfriend, a story first reported by ABC News.
The 30-second commercial, which includes a photo of the victim with stitches on her chin, says that Vitter's decision to keep Brent Furer on staff, and Vitter's positions on women's issues, comprise a more serious sin than the "serious sin" Vitter admitted publicly in 2007 after his name was linked to a D.C. madam. "His serious sin isn't even his worst," says the ad, which will begin airing Friday.
"When Vitter's staffer violently abused his girlfriend, Senator Vitter let him keep his job – working on women's issues," says the ad, which then lists Vitter votes and positions the Melancon campaign says are anti-women. The ad includes a shot of Furer's rap sheet and footage of Vitter walking through a Washington park that appeared in the ABC News report. The Melancon campaign is also launching a web site that references the Furer report, http://www.serioussins.com.
Brent Furer resigned in June after ABC News revealed that he had been arrested in 2008 for attacking his girlfriend and had pleaded guilty to three charges in connection with the attack. Victim Nicolia Demopoulos told police that Furer had asked her, "Do you want to die?" while holding an unknown object to her neck. The police report says that a cut on her chin took eight stitches to close.
The report also revealed that Furer had past arrests for cocaine possession and drunk driving, and an open warrant in Baton Rouge for drunk driving.
Furer had worked on Vitter's 2004 campaign and was then posted in his Washington office for five years. He was listed in congressional guides as the senator's point man on women's issues.
Vitter, meanwhile, already faces a Republican challenger in Louisiana's August 28 primary who told ABC News he entered the race because of the Furer report. Chet Traylor, a retired state supreme court justice, claimed there was a groundswell of concern among Republicans that Vitter may be too damaged by scandal to survive the general election.
"They want, and I want Louisiana to have, a Republican senator," said Traylor. He said he had received phone calls from Republicans who were specifically concerned about the Furer report.
In a statement, the National Republican Senatorial Committee called the commercial "just another desperate attempt by Charlie Melancon to distract voters from his years in Washington carrying water for Nancy Pelosi and President Obama."