Prostitution can’t seem to stay out of political news. While the use of prostitutes ruins careers, marriages, and reputations, the business doesn’t seem to be declining. While prostitution was made legal in Rhode Island in 2009 and is legal in most counties in Nevada, it is absolutely illegal everywhere else. Although, the typical consequences of 6-12 months in jail (for prostitutes or customers, with steeper fines and jail time for pimps and brothel owners) must not be scary enough to stop the practice. Here are four escorts who caught the spotlight once their clients were exposed.
The once-dubbed “Manhattan Madam,” Anna Gristina was arrested in February amid allegations that she guarded a client list of powerful political, sports, and banking figures, although no such list has materialized publicly. In wiretap recordings Gristina claimed she had paid law-enforcement officials in nearly every state and federal agency in New York for protection from the law. While she is not expected to spend time in prison, Ms. Gristina’s lawyer anticipates that the authorities will attempt to deport her to her homeland of Scotland, as deportation is a common consequence for immigrant prostitutes.
Then-Governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer, paid $4,300 for services and travel to Ashley Dupre, a 22-year-old prostitute. Ironically, Spitzer used the same escort service that supplied young women to men he had gone after in his previous position as New York’s attorney general (a platform he used to launch himself into the governor’s mansion).
Spitzer reportedly had at least seven such meet-ups with prostitutes from the agency over six months, and paid more than $15,000 for their services. Reports said Spitzer paid up to $80,000 for prostitutes over a period of several years during his time as attorney general and then as governor. Investigations took off after Spitzer’s bank alerted the IRS of Spitzer’s attempt to transfer more than $10,000 to the prostitution ring. Ms. Dupre, already an aspiring pop artist, became a public figure as a result of the story, going on to pose for Playboy and to become a sex columnist for the New York Post. Spitzer resigned on March 12, 2008, but has since become a regular political television personality. Another woman involved in the scandal, Kristen Davis — formerly known as the Manhattan Madam — spent four months in jail as a result of her involvement, then announced a run for Spitzer’s old seat in the 2010 New York gubernatorial election–where she came in last.
The D.C. Madam
Senator David Vitter’s telephone number appeared in phone records of a woman known as the “D.C. Madam,” in 2007, making him the first member of Congress to become ensnared in the case. Deborah Jeane Palfrey faced federal charges for allegedly running a prostitution ring out of homes and hotel rooms in the Washington area. Her business netted more than $2 million over 13 years beginning in 1993. Palfrey later hanged herself after a federal jury convicted her of money laundering and racketeering.
Congressman Barney Frank — the first sitting congressman to enter into a same-sex marriage — hired and later dated male prostitute Stephen Gobie early in his 30-year career. As it turns out, Gobie was running a male-prostitution brothel out of the Congressman’s home. While Frank claimed to have no knowledge of Gobie’s large business, he used his power to fix 33 tickets for Gobie and wrote a misleading letter to his probation officer. Frank got a slap on the wrist and moved on.