La. Dems question Sen. Vitter payment to cousin

Louisiana Democrats are continuing to probe for issues they can use against Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) this fall. The latest to emerge is a $9,000 campaign expenditure that went to Jim St. Raymond, Vitter's first cousin and a longtime political adviser.

Raymond has filed for bankruptcy protection after the failure of a high-profile New Orleans real estate venture. He owes some $13 million and declared less than $34,000 in assets as of early January, according to The Times-Picayune

"One has to wonder, given the state of his personal finances, exactly what level of strategic political advice Mr. St. Raymond can give Sen. Vitter," Kevin Franck, a spokesman for the state Democratic Party, told the paper "Is St. Raymond a legitimate political operative who is still providing valuable advice, or did Sen. Vitter find a way to funnel money to his broke cousin through his campaign funds?"

Vitter spokesman Luke Bolar said St. Raymond was paid to handle direct mail. "Jim St. Raymond has been a political consultant for over 25 years and has been involved, focusing on direct mail, in all of Sen. Vitter's campaigns for 19," Bolar said.

The senator faces a primary Saturday but is expected to retain the nomination. 

--Updated at 12:02 p.m.