Guest Blogged by Pokey Anderson
Just down the road from Mount St. Helens, there's an unexpected eruption. The small southwest Washington town of La Center is having a political eruption --- its state legislator is embroiled in a sex scandal, details of which are still unfolding.
This time, there's no resorting to the time-honored "wide stance" defense, and no encrypted toe tapping in an airport public restroom. This time, there is no explicit text messaging to a Congressional page from a member of Congress, then co-chair of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, while a bill is being debated on the floor of the Capitol.
This time, the stage is a booth in back of an X-rated video store, and then a room in the nicest hotel in Spokane, Washington.
This time, there's a lawmaker wearing black sequined lingerie...
The stars in this scandal:
1. Two-term State Rep. Richard Curtis, 48, from Washington State. This spring, he voted against domestic partnerships for gay and lesbian couples. Last year, he opposed a gay rights bill that banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. You may be shocked to learn he is a Republican. He is a former fire captain, and is married. To a woman.
2. The rent boy/hustler. The fellow Rep. Curtis allegedly hired for the evening, is apparently a porn actor and male prostitute with a criminal record. Cody Castagna is known in some circles as "Stallion."
According to The Columbian, "A search for Castagna in court records turned up a number of cases in Spokane and King County on a variety of charges. Most cases were in juvenile court and involved charges of assault, theft, burglary and malicious mischief. In adult court, court records showed that Castagna pleaded guilty in 2001 to a forgery charge and was sentenced to two months in jail and 12 months in community custody."
A brief video clip of Castagna is posted here.
The Plot - A Night in the Life
Rep. Curtis was in Spokane, at the other end of the state from his home district, for strategy meetings with other Republican legislators. He booked a room in the best hotel in town.
First Stop - Video Store...
Late in the evening, Rep. Curtis visited a porn video store. Some of these adult video stores have booths in the back that are frequented by men seeking anonymous sex. According to a Spokane TV station: "During his visit to the video store Curtis was observed wearing women’s lingerie while receiving oral sex from an unidentified man in one of the movie viewing booths inside the store." The Spokesman Review reported the rent boy told detectives that he saw a man later identified as Curtis in the video store "wearing long red women's stockings and black sequined lingerie."
The newspaper added: "An employee at the store told detectives Curtis has been in the business three times in the last month and is called 'the cross-dresser' by employees." He continued to wear these items throughout the night under his clothing.
Second Stop - Casino...
Then, according to police reports, Curtis went to Northern Quest Casino to gamble. Arguably, though, all three stops of the evening were high-stakes gambles.
Third Stop - Hotel Room...
Curtis and the rent boy had made arrangements to meet later that night. Their intimate interlude began at 3:30 a.m. with a meeting in Curtis' hotel room. The two stars in this scandal disagree about many of the details of what happened in the room, especially when it comes to matters of payment. Castagna alleges that Curtis demanded unprotected anal sex, and that Curtis agreed to pay $1000.
Curtis admitted paying the younger man $100, but said it was not payment for their consensual sex, but rather an attempt "to help him out, with gas money." Curtis at different times has disagreed with his own story of what happened, and at one point claimed a "foggy memory." Curtis has now lawyered up, and has stopped talking to the press.
Waking Up with a Headache
Somehow, Castagna left the hotel with Curtis' wallet. Castagna later threatened to expose the lawmaker (!) if he didn't pay him $800 more.
Rep. Curtis went to the police at that point, but hoped to keep things quiet. In an interview with detectives, the state legislator "stated he only wanted his wallet back and wanted to keep the incident as low key as possible. He did not want to pursue charges."
The report notes that Curtis "said he wished he had just paid the additional money to the suspect because he didn't wish the case to be prosecuted [for extortion]. If the incident became public, it could cost him his marriage and career.”
Who Says Lawmakers Can't Act Quickly?
Republican leaders in Washington State moved rapidly to contain the scandal. Rep. Curtis submitted a resignation letter to Washington's governor effective immediately (blaming "events that have recently come to light" as having "hurt a lot of people"). Curtis' name was removed from the statehouse GOP web site within hours of his announced resignation. A Republican will be appointed to replace him in the legislature.
There has been no comment from Rep. Curtis' wife about the reports that her husband engaged in sex with a stranger twice in one evening, including, allegedly, anal sex without a condom (the riskiest way to sexually transmit HIV).
In a brief interview on Friday, Curtis took a page out of the White House Plame-CIA Leak Scandal playbook and declined to speak fully until all possible legal matters run their course. Curtis told the paper, "he realizes he needs to explain how he could vote against gay marriage and domestic partnerships and have a secret second life, but he cannot discuss such matters until all legal issues have been resolved."
The story has another wrinkle. Rep. Curtis was a non-voting member of the Washington State Gambling Commission; he was removed the same day he resigned his seat in the statehouse. Castagna "the Stallion" is linked to a "madam" at Northern Quest Casino. Castagna appears in archived casino surveillance video talking with a woman who is now serving a two-year prison term. She was operating an escort business and promoting prostitution at the casino. The woman pleaded guilty this past summer to money laundering, three counts of second-degree promoting prostitution and possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Castagna was not charged with anything in that case.
The story has gone national in a matter of a few days.
Blogger Dan Savage writes: "Closeted gay GOP elected official with an anti-gay voting record and—and I’m putting this charitably—a deeply troubled gay kid with a rap sheet—these two were made for each other."
"Mike", commenter at Crooks and Liars, writes: "The Democrats should run on the platform of Our gays are better than their gays. Ours are the out, fun, happy, Will and Grace gays. Theirs are the angry, closeted, creepy, preying, priest/gym teacher gays."
Pam Spaulding at Pam's House Blend writes: "I'm living a relatively plain jane lesbian existence simply asking for my civil rights while closet cases like Curtis get all sorts of kinks on while railing against openly LGBT citizens."
I would add, it's getting hard to keep all the anti-gay Republicans straight!