David Vitter

Louisiana senator found himself best known for prostitution scandal

David B. Vitter ’83, the first Republican elected to the U.S. Senate from Louisiana since Reconstruction, was not always such a staunch conservative.

“One of the interesting things about David’s history is that when we were rooming together, David was more left-of-center politically,” said Vitter’s college roommate Scott C. Alexander ’83.

Though Vitter was an economics concentrator, Alexander said that he was always interested in politics.

“He was thinking of public service even when we were in college,” said Alexander, who roomed with Vitter for all four years at Harvard. “Even mutual friends thought that David would run for office.”

Though he was not involved in political groups, Vitter was a member of the Catholic Student Association and regularly attended Mass.

“That’s always been an important part of David’s life,” Alexander said. “His faith was important to him through our years in college.”

After leaving Harvard, Vitter moved across the pond to Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. According to Alexander, it was meeting the “liberals” at Oxford that led Vitter to move right.

After graduating from Oxford, Vitter attended Tulane Law School and worked as a lawyer until venturing into politics in the early 1990s.

Vitter served as a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1992 to 1999 before winning a special election to the U.S. House of Representatives from Louisiana’s 1st district.

Vitter became Louisiana’s junior U.S. Senator after he replaced retiring Democratic Senator John Breaux in 2004.

Vitter next made headlines last July when it was revealed that he employed the services of the prostitution agency run by the “D.C. Madam,” Deborah Jeane Palfrey. He has since apologized for his actions, saying that it was a “very serious sin.”

Staff writer Lauren D. Kiel can be reached at lkiel@fas.harvard.edu.