Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Beltway Powerbrokers Anxiously Await Release of Alleged Madam's Client List

Washington insiders remain on edge as they await the expected release of an alleged madam's client list later this week. Federal prosecutors indicted Jeane Palfrey, whom the media has dubbed the D.C. Madam, earlier this year in connection to an alleged prostitution ring she ran in the District of Columbia. The alleged madam gave ABC News her client list as she reportedly plans to call many of her clients to the stand during her trial.

Former Deputy Secretary of State Randall Tobias became the first casualty of this brewing scandal late last month with his abrupt resignation after he confirmed to the network he was a regular client of Palfrey's escort service "to have gals come over to the condo to give me a massage."

Tobias oversaw the Bush administration's controversial HIV prevention policy that urges abstinence and faithfulness over condoms and demanded an 'anti-prostitution' pledge from any United States-based prevention organization that sought federal funds for their programs. There is no problem with consenting adults who engage in sex behind closed doors. But Tobias is certainly not the first high profile Washington official to engage in personal and political hypocrisy at the expense of his own reputation.

Former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr [R-Ga.] co-sponsored the so-called Defense of Marriage Act despite his own divorces; former President Bill Clinton signed DOMA into law in 1996 despite his own extra-marital transgressions with former White House intern Monica Lewinksy that almost cost him his presidency and former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich [R-Ga.], himself married three times, admitted to Focus on the Famly founder James Dobson earlier this year he had an affair with a former Congressional aide while he oversaw impeachment proceedings against Clinton. Former National Association of Evangelicals President Ted Haggard resigned last November after a former male prostitute told a Denver radio station he had sex with the disgraced minister and used crystal meth with him. Haggard was a powerful proponent of the anti-marriage for same-sex couples amendment Colorado voters passed last November. Yet his downfall represents one of the most tragic cases of personal hypocrisy in recent years.

Haggard's personal transgressions, like Gingrich's, Clinton's, Barr's or Tobias', are not the issue in and of themselves. They become the issue, however, in light of their public statements that support of harmful legislation, policies or initiatives. Washington will continue it's anxious wait until ABC News discloses Palfrey's client list. But perhaps this latest scandal will remind those inside the Beltway who make decisions based on their so-called personal convictions that their actions speak much louder than words.

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