Yesterday, Rep. Lamar Smith held a hearing on the Hinder the Administration’s Legalization Temptation (HALT) Act. This is the legislation designed to bully Obama into not using his prosecutorial discretion to prevent deportations. (Not that Obama is actually using his discretion, but that’s another post.) We live-tweeted the hearing here.
Anyway, the hearing didn’t turn out quite the way Smith intended. That’s in large part due to his expert witness on prosecutorial discretion, Senator David Vitter. From Kevin Gosztola at FiredogLake:
Senator David Vitter (R-LA) was scheduled to testify before the Judiciary Committee, as he is the senator who has introduced this legislation in the Senate. It seems likely that Sen. Vitter took a look at Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) and Rep. Conyers and chose not to stand up for his nauseating stance on immigration.
As the bill is really about limiting “prosecutorial discretion,” making it impossible for those within ICE and the Homeland Security Department to use their conscience (provided it is still functioning) and consider outstanding circumstances to ensure that hardship is prevented if someone comes up for a deportation and may not deserve it, etc, Rep. Lofgren drew attention to Sen. Vitter’s past to make a salient point:
In the District of Columbia, it is a crime to engage in prostitution. In July of 2007, Ms. Deborah Palfrey, known as the DC Madam who had been convicted under this statute, published her phone records indicating that one of our witnesses was her client. Later Senator Vitter said this was a very sin in my past for which I am completely responsible. Under the DC criminal statute related to solicitation, the senator ninety to one hundred days but he never faced trial. In fact, prosecutors never brought charges. Sure looks like he benefited from prosecutorial discretion. I would not mention this incident today if it didn’t expose the hypocrisy of seeking to prevent the use of discretion to benefit others when one has enjoyed the benefit himself.
That garnered a lot of attention. Vitter’s hometown paper picked it up, too. From NOLA.com:
In an unusually direct personal attack, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a leading liberal Democrat from California, accused Sen. David Vitter, R-La., of hypocrisy Tuesday for sponsoring legislation that would narrow prosecutorial discretion in cases involving those caught in the country illegally, when, she said, he benefited from that discretion in a prostitution scandal.
“That really takes the cake,” said Lofgren, accusing Vitter of “hypocrisy to seek to limit the use of discretion when one has enjoyed the benefit himself.”
Lofgren made the comments in her opening statement at a hearing of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement on the HALT Act, which is being sponsored in the Senate by Vitter.
It sure does take the cake. And the alleged “unusually direct personal attack” was just a statement of fact. Vitter put himself in the mix here by sponsoring the Senate HALT Act and agreeing to be Smith’s leading witness.
The San Antonio Express-News also highlighted the focus on Vitter:
During a House hearing, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., accused Smith and Republicans of indulging in political hyperbole to remove a power long employed by previous administrations.
Lofgren also attacked the Senate author of the bill, Sen. David Vitter, R-La., accusing him of trying to deny the benefits of prosecutorial discretion to immigrants even though he did not face trial following his exposure in the “D.C. Madam” scandal…The senator, slated to testify before the House hearing on the HALT Act, did not appear after Lofgren called attention to Vitter’s past to “expose the hypocrisy,” as she put it.