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Sheriff Hits Back At GOP Sen. Vitter After Bizarre Coffee Shop Incident

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AP Photo / Jonathan Bachman

In an interview published Monday, Vitter accused Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand of arresting the P.I. on Friday in order to embarrass him on the eve of the state's primary election. The senator told Gannett Louisiana that he didn't personally order the P.I., Robert J. Frenzel, to spy on Normand. Instead, Vitter said he'd reached out to Normand numerous times about law enforcement issues but to no avail.

Normand, however, told The Baton Rouge Advocate in an interview published later Monday that he met with Vitter for more than an hour to discuss law enforcement issues. He went on to say in the interview that he believed Vitter "would be the worst governor in the history of the state of Louisiana.”

"I haven’t done anything against him other than endorse (Lt. Gov.) Jay Dardenne," Normand told The Advocate, referring to one of the GOP primary opponents Vitter defeated. "As a taxpaying citizen, I’m offended by the fact that he’s got people videotaping folks that I’m having coffee with.”

Vitter's campaign previously said Frenzel's work had "nothing to do with Newell Normand" and was "within the bounds of the law." In the interview with Gannett Louisiana, the senator suggested Normand's motives for arresting Frenzel were "political."

But the sheriff challenged that explanation of the coffee shop incident, invoking Vitter's admission of a "serious sin" after he was connected with the 2007 "D.C. Madam" prostitution scandal.

“Unlike in the prostitution case, why don’t you tell us what your sin is?” Normand told The Advocate. "What did you direct (Frenzel’s firm) to do?”

Frenzel may be off the hook for recording the sheriff's breakfast meeting, too. Normand seemed to backtrack on a plan to pursue felony wiretapping charges against the P.I., telling The Advocate that he wasn't "looking to charge him just for the sake of charging him." Frenzel was booked Friday on a misdemeanor charge of criminal mischief for running through people's backyards after fleeing the cafe, according to the report.