David Vitter’s Dirty Laundry

Photo by dsb nola, <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/derek_b/3934720053/">via Flickr</a>.

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Earlier this month, an employee for the California-based US Dry Cleaning Corporation admitted in an interview that the company had funneled campaign donations through its employees to the campaign of Sen. David Vitter (R-La.). The company was angling for federal stimulus funds to help their ailing business, and allegedly reimbursed four employees for donations totaling $38,400 to Vitter’s campaign committee. This, of course, would be illegal.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against US Dry Cleaning Corporation, Vitter, and his campaign committee. FEC rules prohibit corporations from making donations to federal candidates, and they also bar them from funneling money through their employees. And candidates are prohibited from accepting these illegal contributions. CREW wants the FEC to investigate “whether Sen. Vitter knowingly participated in this illegal scheme.”

Why a California dry cleaning business would choose Vitter as its champion isn’t entirely clear. He voted against the stimulus, so it’s not clear how much he could have helped US Dry Cleaning, which filed for federal bankruptcy last month. The Times-Picayune notes that some dry cleaners are urging the Environmental Protection Agency to slow down rules phasing out the chemical perchloroethylene, which could have something to do with it. Vitter is a big foe of EPA regulations and an ardent supporter of the chemical industry, which is big in his state. This wouldn’t be the first time he’s gone to bat for toxic chemicals.

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Fact:

In-depth journalism that investigates the powerful takes real money and is so damn important right now.But it doesn’t take a Mother Jones investigation to know that billionaires and corporations will never fund the type of reporting (like they do politicians) we do that exists to help bring about change. Instead, our mission-driven journalism is made possible by people power, and has been for 46 years now since our founding as a non-profit.

In “TITLE TK” Monica Bauerlein writes about the perilous moment we’re in, and why it’s so important that we raise $325,000 by the time November’s midterms are decided so we can be ready to throw everything we have at the big issues facing the nation no matter what happens. Please help MoJo’s people-powered journalism with a donation today.

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