Congressman blasts rival as spreading prostitution claims

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) " Republican U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany is blaming one of his GOP rivals in Louisiana's U.S. Senate race for spreading allegations that Boustany was involved with prostitutes who were later killed.

The congressman Wednesday blasted Treasurer John Kennedy and his campaign staff, saying they've been engaged in a "false smear campaign" and sending around the allegations, which are contained in a book released this week.

"John Kennedy does not care about my family or the people of Louisiana. He only cares about saving the twilight of his own political career," Boustany said in a conference call with reporters.

"He's desperate. He is a political predator, and he has no regard for the truth," the congressman said of Kennedy.

"Murder In The Bayou," about the killings of several prostitutes in Jefferson Davis Parish, includes a chapter claiming Boustany was involved with some of the women. Author Ethan Brown cites multiple anonymous sources. He does not allege Boustany is involved in the slayings.

The Associated Press hasn't been able to independently confirm the allegations.

Brown said he stands by his reporting. Boustany called the allegations "despicable lies" and "complete tabloid nonsense."

Kennedy has denied initially spreading the information. But after media outlets wrote about the prostitution claims and Boustany's wife sent an email defending her husband's character, Kennedy's campaign repeated the prostitution allegations in emails that linked to stories about them.

"The Kennedy campaign did not write the book and did not publish the book. The book speaks for itself. The only reason the Kennedy campaign commented was because the Boustany campaign blamed the book on us and the other Senate opponents," Kennedy spokesman Lionel Rainey said in a statement.

Boustany said he has "a lot of evidence" that Kennedy and his campaign operatives were circulating the story before then.

Boustany and Kennedy are among 24 contenders on the Nov. 8 ballot in the Senate race, a seat that is open because Republican David Vitter " who found his bid for governor derailed in part by a prostitution scandal " isn't running for re-election. The race is expected to be decided in a Dec. 10 runoff. Kennedy is the front-runner, but polls also show Boustany as one of the top competitors.

"I'm very confident Louisianians will not reward John Kennedy's sleazy politics. His dishonesty in this matter has disqualified him from high office," Boustany said.

Wednesday's conference call was the first time Boustany had spoken publicly about the allegations.

"To have your integrity and character called into question based on just blatant, false lies, despicable lies is hurtful," Boustany said. "It's been hard on my family, and it's been hard on me."

Brown's book also says a former Boustany employee was involved in the operations of a Jefferson Davis Parish hotel allegedly frequented by the prostitutes. Boustany said the employee hid the hotel information from him, and the employee "tendered his resignation" with the congressman's office last week.

The book contains a statement from Boustany spokesman Jack Pandol denying that Boustany had "any contact" with the prostitutes. Boustany said he knew of the phone call between Brown and Pandol, but didn't speak to the author directly. He said he first heard about the book's publication last week, but hadn't read it.

___

Follow Melinda Deslatte on Twitter at http://twitter.com/melindadeslatte

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf04 at 25 Sep 2016 10:36:25 Processing Time: 792ms