D.C. Madam's attorney says call log bombshell could upend presidential race
A lawyer who represented the so-called "D.C. madam" says he has phone records that could influence the outcome of the presidential election, and he's threatening to release one or more names on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court if he's denied a hearing on his right to distribute them.
Montgomery Blair Sibley, the late madam Deborah Palfrey's colorful attorney, has been subject to a restraining order since 2007 barring him from releasing the information, which he says includes 815 names, addresses and Social Security numbers of Verizon Wireless customers.
"Time is of the essence because people are casting votes in primaries and caucuses," he says. "I believe this information is relevant to that political discourse."
Sibley first said the records could be relevant to the presidential race in January, when there were 15 high-profile candidates. Now, just three Republicans and two Democrats remain – though Sibley won't say if any are implicated, citing fear of being jailed for contempt.
He would not say if he was surprised by a National Enquirer report last week that alleged Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, had engaged in five extramarital affairs. Cruz, currently in second place in the GOP contest, vigorously denied the report on Friday, and in doing so uncapped mainstream media coverage.
Cruz was first elected to the Senate in 2012 but represented Texas several times during Supreme Court arguments while Palfrey's business operated.
Most of the other presidential candidates also lived in or visited the nation's capital while Palfrey's business operated, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Ohio Gov. John Kasich – a former congressman. Billionaire GOP front-runner Donald Trump likely visited the region during the decade-long time period.
Complicating Sibley's bid to release one or more name from the records is that he's been having trouble getting a court to give him a hearing.
In February, he filed a complaint of judicial misconduct against Richard Roberts, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, for allegedly instructing a clerk not to file his request for a hearing on modifying the restraining order. (Roberts resigned earlier this month on the day a woman filed a lawsuit claiming he sexually assaulted her while she was a 16-year-old witness in a case he prosecuted three decades ago. Roberts said the sex was consensual.)
About two weeks ago, Sibley asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to order the clerk to accept his filing and, feeling a sense of urgency and lacking a response, hand-delivered an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday.
"The footnote to the pleading I filed today says this: If I do not get the right to file my request to modify the restraining order and if I do not get an expedited hearing, I'm going to publicly release those records and see what happens," he says. "If they want to hold me in contempt of court for violating an order they will not give me a hearing on, I think they lose the right to enforce that order."
By not promptly scheduling a hearing, he says, courts "are letting people vote blindly."
Palfrey became nationally famous following her 2006 arrest and was found dead with a nylon rope around her neck in her mother's shed in 2008. Before her apparent suicide, Sen. David Vitter, R-La., and the then-leader of the U.S. Agency for International Development were outed as her clients.
Their names came from a set of call records that revealed Vitter – who remains a sitting senator – called Palfrey during congressional votes. The large batch contained about 10,000 numbers released by Sibley and Palfrey in 2007.
The records had carelessly been left in Palfrey's basement, Sibley recalls.
"When the Keystone Kop police came in to seize everything [from Palfrey's house] they walked by these boxes saying Pamela Martin Associates telephone records, 1996-2006, and they just left them there," Sibley says. "So I got my hands on them and released a portion of them."
But about a third of the records were not released, he says.
"We held back these 5,000," Sibley says. "I wanted to have something to negotiate with or surprise people at trial."
Before trial, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler authorized subpoenas for cellphone companies requesting personal information. Verizon Wireless returned a list containing the names, addresses and Social Security numbers of about 815 people, Sibley says – a sizable subset of the 5,000 numbers not initially released.
Other companies did not respond before a different federal judge, James Robertson, quashed the phone company subpoenas two months later. Palfrey was convicted of money laundering and other charges two weeks before her death.
Sibley is known for being a high-energy attorney with an eccentric client list, including Larry Sinclair, who despite his lengthy rap sheet for forgery and other crimes gained significant attention claiming he had sexual relations with President Barack Obama. Sibley's ability to practice law was suspended for three years in Florida in 2008 for filing "vexatious and meritless" lawsuits against judges and for a child support payment dispute. He faced reciprocal discipline in D.C.
Sibley is not yet giving judges a deadline to allow for the release of information before he does so unilaterally. "Their delay, in hindsight, will seem like they're favoring one person over another," he says.
RELATED: Reactions to Ted Cruz's cheating scandal: