The Slatest

The D.C. Madam Is About to Make Her Cameo in the GOP Primary

Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz listen to the national anthem before the start of the a debate on the campus of the University of Miami on March 10 in Coral Gables, Florida.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

There is something almost innocent about the D.C. Madam’s arrival on the scene of the 2016 presidential election. It’s like something out of a quainter political moment, when sex scandals could unfold in all their lurid detail without once raising the horrifying specter of a Donald Trump presidency.

For those who don’t remember, the madam in question was a woman named Deborah Jeane Palfrey who was busted in the aughts for running an escort service with a high-profile client list in the nation’s capital. She’d been in operation for more than a decade. Palfrey was convicted of racketeering, money laundering, and mail fraud in 2008. She killed herself weeks later. Throughout, Palfrey maintained she had thousands of names and phone numbers in her little black book, which was unnerving news for the political set. Louisiana Sen. David Vitter got outed for having an affair, but the carnage on Capitol Hill was far less than giddily anticipated, in part, because the courts stepped in and stopped the sharing of the full client list.

The lawyer for Palfrey, however, appears set on changing that. Montgomery Blair Sibley recently appealed to the Supreme Court to lift a series of restraining orders that prohibited him from releasing any of the D.C. Madam’s records. Why such an urgent appeal out of the blue? Sibley says it could impact the presidential election. He’s terribly worried American voters are going to be misled.

“I believe the information in my possession from the subpoena returns in the ‘D.C. Madam’ case may be relevant to the upcoming election,” Sibley told WTOP in February in an email. “As I am presently restrained by Court Order from releasing that information, I feel obligated to seek release from those restraining orders.” Sibley has said that if the court denies his request, he might release the goods anyway. Some tabloid outfits are trying to beat him to the punch, suggesting that Cruz’s name is the one Sibley is fighting to disclose. Conservative sites are on the case as well. Whether or not those claims are true, if history is any indicator, they’ll earn a Trump retweet either way.

Read more Slate coverage of the 2016 presidential election.