State Education Superintendent John White has Emailgate, that embarrassing communication with the governor’s office in which he laid out his plot to shroud legislators and the public with a cloud of B.S.
Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser apparently accesses parish emails kept for use only in emergencies like hurricanes, floods and tornadoes but used by him to solicit contributions to his political fundraiser—to be attended by Piyush Jindal, no less.
And Rep. Joe Harrison (R-Gray) uses state letterhead to solicit contributions to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) so his pals in the House and Senate can get expense-paid trips to ALEC’s Salt Lake City conference later this month.
Things just can’t get any better.
Or can they?
Timmy Teepell ostensibly departed his $165,000-per-year position as Gov. Piyush Jindal Chief of Staff last October to head up the Baton Rouge Southern office of OnMessage, Inc., a political consulting firm out of Virginia—but he apparently forgot to close out his state email account.
Yet, more than eight months after his announced departure and 11 months after he officially terminated his employment, Teepell not only continues to maintain a high-profile presence in and around the State Capitol and the governor’s mansion (his Jeep Wrangler remains a fixture in both locations and he was seen on almost a daily basis on the floors of the House and Senate during the recently completed legislative session), but he also retains an active state email account in the governor’s office.
Moreover, there is no physical addressed listed for a Baton Rouge office of OnMessage, nor is there a local telephone listing. Nor is OnMessage, Inc. registered in Louisiana, according to corporate records on file with the Louisiana Secretary of State.
Last Oct. 24, OnMessage posted a news release on its web page announcing that Teepell had joined the firm “as a partner and head of our new Southern office.”
The news release went on to say that Teepell “will open and manage our new OnMessage Southern office in Baton Rouge and will work on campaigns throughout the country.”
When Jindal announced that Teepell was leaving to join OnMessage, he said the move was “effective immediately,” even though the last official date of employment with the governor’s office was July 1.
Yet, when Teepell left the state payroll on July 1, 2011, he was quickly placed on the payroll of Jindal’s campaign which paid him more than $91,300 between July 15 and Dec. 30.
In the months immediately following the October announcement of Teepell’s departure, Jindal’s campaign was also making payments to OnMessage of $46,000 in November and another $55,000 in December—time during which Teepell was supposed to have been employed by OnMessage, leaving unexplained why the governor’s campaign would be making simultaneous payments to both Teepell and OnMessage for those two months.
Jindal’s ties to OnMessage go back at least to the 2007 governor’s race. OnMessage was used extensively in that race by Jindal’s campaign which shelled out approximately $1.3 million for consulting work by the firm. Additionally, Curt Anderson, another OnMessage partner, ghost-wrote Jindal’s book Leadership and Crisis.
In February, it was announced that Teepell’s OnMessage office in Baton Rouge had signed on to work for Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy’s 2012 re-election campaign. A check of Cassidy’s campaign expenditures, however, revealed no payments to either Teepell or OnMessage through the end of June.
An email to Teepell at Timmy.Teepell@la.gov from Capitol News Service was not answered. Likewise, emails to Jindal Executive Counsel Elizabeth Murrill and Communications Director Kyle Plotkin asking why Teepell still had an active state government email address did not receive responses.
Perhaps that was because OnMessage’s Baton Rouge Southern office took a long weekend for the July 4th holiday.