In an interview with Rob Capriccioso, Editor of Big Head DC, Christopher Tidmore speaks about the reasons that he jumped into the District 82 race, and whether his uncovering of the original Vitter stories will affect his campaign for the Stat
For better or for worse, Christopher Tidmore's life has long been intertwined with that of disgraced GOP Sen. David Vitter. Tidmore, now a politician himself running for a Louisiana state legislature seat at as a Republican, was not too long ago a journalist--a journalist who struck gold when he uncovered Vitter's extramarital affair with a prostitute named Wendy Cortez (who Vitter knew as "Leah") in the summer of 2002. While Vitter was able to successfully dodge and deny Tidmore's hard-hitting reports back then, this week's revelations about his "DC Madam" entanglements have largely redeemed Tidmore. We sat down with the candidate to talk about the news:
Rob Capriccioso, Editor, Big Head DC: Are you surprised that Sen. Vitter has been caught with his pants down again?
Christopher Tidmore: I had hoped for the sake of his family and career that Sen. Vitter changed his proclivities. By all accounts, he did not. In retrospect, though, no, I am not surprised. Vitter went vengefully after anyone related to the story, even me, the reporter, who told the tale as fairly as I could.
To paraphrase Shakespeare, "The Gentleman doth protest too much, methinks." Why waste so much political capital and effort for five years if you did not have something to hide--especially if visiting prostitutes was an ongoing pattern of behavior, a saga of lies.
RC: Do you believe that the prostitute he used in the past was a separate person from the "DC Madam" escort he used?
CT: There is little doubt we are speaking of at least two different people.
Wendy Cortez lived in New Orleans, and relocated to Atlanta after Vitter's election to Congress. She had no links to the DC Madam. In the interviews with Wendy Cortez, she said that she met Vitter independently, through a friend, and visited him at a small apartment at the corner of Dumaine and Dauphine Streets in the French Quarter.
The Madam of the raided Canal Street Brothel has begun to say that Wendy Cortez worked independently of her, but was a special favorite of Vitter's.
Ultimately, I believe that Wendy Cortez was a separate case was due to the way she described that the relationship between her and Vitter ending. Their tryst reportedly lasted eleven months. Wendy C. had been using the name "Leah", but Vitter asked her what her real name was. Apparently, seeing a call girl with the same name as his wife was a bit too intense for the-then State Representative. As it might be for anyone...
RC: What can you tell me about Wendy Vitter, the Senator's wife? How do you think she is coping?
CT: I have to feel for Wendy Vitter and her children -- particularly her children -- facing comments and looks as they go to school each morning. Wendy Vitter has always put her life on hold to help David Vitter's career. She is a very capable and intelligent woman who must be embarrassed to no end.
RC: How far did Vitter go to discredit you when you were a reporter?
CT: Quite far. He used his influence to deny job opportunities that were presented to me, as he did to others related to the story, and publicly said repeatedly that not only were the stories lies, but they were politically motivated to destroy him.
What is interesting about the last charge was that I had no political agenda against Vitter. Ideologically, we agree on most issues, and I was quite fond of him as a reformist politician when he was in the legislature. At the time of his election to Congress, he considered me a quite sympathetic reporter.
But, my job required me to pursue the truth--to confront a pattern of hypocrisy and lies.
RC: Are you worried about being tainted by scandals now that you've gone into politics yourself?
CT: Scandals in general, I am not. I have already pledged not to take even a cup of coffee from lobbyists, and have long been on record with years of editorials as a critic of the way the state does business--echoing many of David Vitter's criticisms, interestingly enough, when he was in the legislature.
What led me to jump into the race for an open State Legislative seat was the hostility that certain legislators had to a concept that I co-authored called Broadway South. It extended Louisiana's very successful film tax credits to live, legitimate theater: music, opera, cabaret, jazz, and Broadway Shows. It was written so that the state treasury would not lose a dollar in revenue until the first show of over $300,000 came to the state, but some legislators thought even that was too generous to New Orleans. That fight made me so frustrated that I had to run.
Going against the grain is part of my character, I suppose.
Whether my role in reporting the Vitter/Cortez affair will turn off Republican voters remains to be seen. If it does, I have stood up for the truth, and I have no regrets.
However, I do not think it will ultimately. At first, people seemed sympathetic to Vitter, but by all accounts public opinion is shifting against the Senator.
October 5, 2007 4:59 PM