David Vitter’s Dirty Laundry

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

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.


Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn’t fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation so we can keep on doing the type of journalism that 2018 demands.

Donate Now
  • Kate Sheppard was a staff reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau from 2009 to 2013. She is now a senior reporter and the energy and environment editor at The Huffington Post. She can be reached by email at kate (dot) sheppard (at) huffingtonpost (dot) com and you can follow her on Twitter @kate_sheppard.