NEW ORLEANS — Republican Sen. David Vitter again acknowledged unspecified "serious sins" during a candidates forum Wednesday night but offered no new information on the prostitution scandal that broke in 2007 when he was linked to a Washington call girl ring run by the "D.C. Madam."
Vitter made his remarks in answer to the first question in a televised forum of the six candidates vying for his Senate seat. Candidates were asked about the importance of family values, and Vitter said the scandal led him to redouble his commitment to live up to those values.
"Obviously, I've stumbled in my marriage. Obviously I've committed serious sins, which I've talked about in the past," Vitter said.
In July 2007, Vitter was linked by phone records to a Washington, D.C. escort service run by Deborah Jeane Palfrey, who committed suicide in 2008 after being convicted of running a prostitution ring.
When the scandal broke, Vitter said in a news release that he had committed a "serious sin," but he has steadfastly refused to say more about the matter and has avoided questions. With polls showing him leading in the current race, he has limited campaign appearances and used television ads to boost his conservative profile and attack his Democratic opponent, Rep. Charlie Melancon.
Melancon had said in answer to the same question that issues of honesty and integrity were what prompted 11 people to seek Vitter's seat. "It's the reason everyone got into this race, to challenge Mr. Vitter," Melancon said.
There were no other direct references to the call-girl issue at the forum, though Melancon has run attack ads seeking to remind voters of the controversy.