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MOST CORRUPT: SENATOR DAVID VITTER Senator David Vitter (R-LA) is a second-term senator from Louisiana.

His ethics issues stem from his attempted bribery of the U.S. Secretary of the Interior and his pledge to continue engaging in improper activity. He was included in CREWs 2011 congressional corruption report for both related and unrelated matters, and in CREWs 2007 congressional corruption report for unrelated matters. 1 Linking Interior Secretary Salary Increase to Official Action On May 23, 2011, Sen. Vitter sent a letter to Secretary of the Department of the Interior Ken Salazar stating he would block legislation granting the secretarys pay raise until the Department of Interior began issuing six permits for new deepwater exploratory wells each month. 2 Otherwise, Sen. Vitter vowed to block the secretarys pay raise. Sen. Vitter wrote: Last Friday, I was asked to support legislation in the Senate to grant you a nearly $20,000 salary increase. Given the completely unsatisfactory pace of your departments issuance of new deepwater exploratory permits in the Gulf, I cannot possibly give my assent . . . [W]hen the rate of permits issued for new deepwater exploratory wells reaches pre-moratorium levels (so 6 per month), I will end my efforts to block your salary increase. 3 Secretary Salazar responded with a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), stating the idea that a senator would take the position, in writing, that his vote on the issue [of the salary increase] is dependent upon the outcomes of his attempted coercion of public acts here at the Department . . . is wrong, and it must be made perfectly clear that his attempt cannot and will not affect the execution of the

Sen. Vitters other ethics issues stemmed from misusing his official personnel and Senate office expense account allowances and soliciting prostitutes. For more information, see CREWs Most Corrupt 2011, available at http://www.crewsmostcorrupt.org/mostcorrupt/entry/most-corrupt-report-2011 and Beyond DeLay: The 22 Most Corrupt Members of Congress (and Two to Watch) 2007, available at http://www.crewsmostcorrupt.org/ mostcorrupt/entry/most-corrupt-2007. 2 Letter from Sen. David Vitter to Hon. Ken Salazar, May 23, 2011. 3 Id. (emphasis in original).

solemn legal responsibilities that the Department undertakes on behalf of the American people. 4 Therefore, Secretary Salazar asked the Senate to set aside any effort to increase his salary. 5 On March 29, 2012, the Senate Ethics Committee issued a letter stating that Sen. Vitters actions were inappropriate. 6 Nevertheless, the committee decided against taking further action against him on the grounds that there was no clear Senate guidance addressing such conduct. 7 Simultaneously, the committee issued new guidance explicitly providing that from and after the date of this letter, tying an existing Secretarys personal salary to his or her performance of a specific official action will be viewed by the Committee as improper conduct reflecting discreditably on the Senate. 8 Nevertheless, on March 30, 2012, Sen. Vitter defiantly said he was proud of his efforts to block Secretary Salazars salary increase and would absolutely place a hold on any raise for him in the future. 9 As of August 30, 2012, the Senate has not moved to consider Secretary Salazars pay raise again. Potential Violations Bribery Federal law makes it a crime to directly or indirectly, corruptly give[], offer[] or promise[] anything of value to any public official . . . with intent . . . to influence any official act. 10 Anything of value is interpreted broadly, 11 and courts have recognized the promise of higher-paying employment as a thing of value for purposes of the statute. 12 In addition, the Senate Ethics Manual specifically provides that violating the bribery statute may lead to disciplinary action by the Senate, 13 and the Select Committee on Ethics previously recommended the expulsion of a senator for violating the bribery statute. 14 In spite of the Senate Ethics Committees admonishment, Sen. Vitter vowed he would absolutely place a hold on any raise for [Secretary Salazar] in the future. If Sen. Vitter follows through on his promise to link a thing of value a salary increase to Secretary Salazars official acts, Sen. Vitter may violate the bribery statute.
Letter from Hon. Ken Salazar to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, May 24, 2011. 5 Id. 6 Letter from Senate Select Committee on Ethics Chair Barbara Boxer and Vice Chair Johnny Isakson to Sen. David Vitter, March 29, 2012. 7 Id. 8 Letter from Senate Select Committee on Ethics Chair Barbara Boxer and Vice Chair Johnny Isakson to Senate Colleagues, March 29, 2012. 9 Darren Goode, After Ethics Ruling, David Vitter Vows to Keep Blocking Ken Salazars Pay Raise, Politico, March 30, 2012. 10 18 U.S.C. 201(b)(1). 11 United States v. Williams, 705 F.2d 603, 623 (2d Cir. 1983). 12 United States v. Gorman, 807 F.2d 1299, 1305 (6th Cir. 1986). 13 Senate Select Comm. on Ethics, Senate Ethics Manual, p. 58 (108th Cong., 1st Sess., 2003 ed.). 14 Id., p. 59, n. 113 (citing Investigation of Senator Harrison A. Williams, Jr., Report of the Select Committee on Ethics, United States Senate, to Accompany S. Res. 204, 97th Cong., 1st Sess. 7 (1981)).
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Senate Rule Prohibiting Improper Conduct The Senate Ethics Manual provides that [c]ertain conduct has been deemed by the Senate in prior cases to be unethical and improper even though such conduct may not necessarily have violated any written law, or Senate rule or regulation. Such conduct has been characterized as improper conduct which may reflect upon the Senate. 15 This rule is intended to protect the integrity and reputation of the Senate as a whole. 16 The Ethics Manual explains that improper conduct is given meaning by considering generally accepted standards of conduct, the letter and spirit of laws and Rules . . . 17 In addition, the aforementioned Senate Ethics Committee guidance letter explicitly provides that tying an existing Secretarys personal salary to his or her performance of a specific official action will be viewed by the Committee as improper conduct reflecting discreditably on the Senate. 18 Should Sen. Vitter follow through on his vow to absolutely place a hold on any raise for [Secretary Salazar] in the future, Sen. Vitter undoubtedly will be engaging in improper conduct reflecting upon the Senate.

Senate Ethics Manual, Appendix E, p. 432 (citation omitted). Id. 17 Id., p. 433. 18 Letter from Senate Select Committee on Ethics Chair Barbara Boxer and Vice Chair Johnny Isakson to Senate Colleagues, March 29, 2012.
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