Elections

Tabloid’s D.C. Madam story is ‘garbage,’ Cruz campaign says

Live: Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, grimaces as he speaks to community leaders during a campaign event at the Chabad Neshama Center, Thursday, April 7, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Live: Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, grimaces as he speaks to community leaders during a campaign event at the Chabad Neshama Center, Thursday, April 7, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer) AP

The National Enquirer has lobbed another salacious accusation at Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz with an unsubstantiated report that his name is tied to the “D.C. Madam.”

In a story labeled “presidential shocker” released Thursday that provided no tangible evidence, the tabloid said the Texas senator is “linked” to the client records of the late Deborah Jeane Palfrey, who ran an escort service.

In response to the Enquirer story, Cruz spokeswoman Alice Stewart told the Star-Telegram, “That’s about as absent from reality as the first National Enquirer story. That is garbage. This is Donald Trump’s henchmen. This is (former Trump adviser) Roger Stone planting more garbage in the tabloid rag. It’s absolute garbage.”

The Enquirer reported in its April 4 edition, which was out in late March, that Cruz had allegedly been involved with five women outside of his marriage.

Stone is a GOP operative who formerly worked for Trump and was quoted in the first Enquirer story as saying reports have swirled around Cruz and “I believe where there’s smoke there’s fire.” The tabloid repeated the quote in its second story. Stone did not respond to a request for comment.

Cruz has emphasized that the Enquirer has endorsed Trump for president and that Trump is friends with David Pecker, chairman and CEO of American Media, which publishes the Enquirer.

For the last three weeks the tabloid has featured allegations of Cruz’s infidelities on its front page.

Cruz easily won Tuesday’s Wisconsin GOP primary over Trump.

The Enquirer published an image of Palfrey’s phone records from 2005 that includes a number from Houston but does not identify Cruz. There are several calls on Aug. 24, 2005, with the last four digits blacked out. At the time, Cruz was Texas solicitor general and worked in Austin while keeping a home in Houston where his wife, Heidi, was working for Goldman Sachs.

Palfrey committed suicide in 2008 after she was convicted of running a prostitution ring.

Her attorney, Montgomery Blair Sibley, is asking the Supreme Court to lift a gag order from 2007 that prohibits the release of all of her business records.

Sibley told the Star-Telegram he could not confirm whether Cruz was one of the clients. “I’m not commenting one way or another,” he said. “I’m under a restraining order.” A colorful and controversial D.C. legal figure, Sibley was suspended from practicing law in 2009 in Florida and other jurisdictions.

He initiated speculation about Cruz with his recent efforts to get the records released.

“In January I came to believe that the information I possessed was relevant to this presidential cycle,” he said in an interview.

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. denied Sibley’s appeal April 4 and Sibley is now appealing to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Muck-raker

The Enquirer interviewed Dan Moldea, a longtime D.C.-based investigative reporter and muck-raking author who said he had held records of the names and numbers of 815 of Palfrey’s clients.

Moldea told the Star-Telegram that in 2007, after he discovered one high-profile name, Sen. David Vitter, R-La., he did not want to “out” people he thought were not being hypocritical.

Vitter, a conservative, apologized to his constituents and his family.

As for the 815 names he had, Moldea said, “I destroyed everything.” He did not see any other well-known people on the list, he said. “Ted Cruz would have meant nothing to me,” he said, adding that “nobody involved in the presidential campaign” of 2016 was on the list.

But Sibley said Moldea had thousands of additional phone numbers that he couldn’t release without court permission.

Maria Recio: 202-383-6103, @maria_e_recio

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