Sneaky. Duplicitous. Underhanded. Deceitful. Devious. Dishonest. Fraudulent. Mendacious. Untruthful. Despicable.
Those are just a few words to describe the latest tactic employed by Jindal-Teepell & Co. in the administration’s ongoing almost five-year campaign of deliberate misinformation, distortion and obfuscation in an effort to conceal the state’s business from the public.
We normally attempt to mix in a little humor, sarcasm and snarky comments when we write about Piyush, but his act is beginning to wear a little thin.
Between his flitting about the entire country while ignoring pressing problems at home, lying to the public, making himself inaccessible to state media (while courting Fox Network, CNN, and other national media) and running roughshod over state employees, legislators, and anyone else who appears even slightly hessitant to drink his Kool-Aid, he simply is no longer funny.
His coy response to inquiries about national political aspirations that he “has the job he wants” no longer sells.
His insistence that he has “the most transparent, open and accountable” administration in Louisiana history is nothing more than a blatant lie. And like Joseph Goebbels, he apparently believes that if he tells a lie, makes it big enough and repeats it often enough, people will believe it.
Some do. Many of his adoring followers appear to reside north of Alexandria. But those numbers are growing smaller as more and more the citizens of this state are beginning to peel away the layers of pseudo purity, honesty and sincerity with which he has camouflaged himself so as to hide the real Piyush.
This squeaky clean governor refused to return $55,000 in campaign funds illegally laundered through a bank in St. Tammany Parish. His (or Timmy Teepell’s) explanation was that the money was accepted in good faith, so it is Jindal’s to keep. We suppose if he deposited a campaign check that subsequently bounced, Teepell would also suggest that the bank should not look to the campaign for reimbursement because it was “accepted in good faith.”
The long and short of it is this guy cannot be trusted. He will say or do whatever is politically expedient which makes him no different than any other snake oil salesman. He has, it turns out, no moral compass, no conscience and no soul.
But when a governor—or any of his minions—touting his openness and transparency instructs his staff to use private email accounts when discussing state business so as to avoid disclosure under the state’s public records laws, something is terribly lacking in the overall character makeup of the man with whom we have entrusted the state’s leadership.
That’s the story broken by enterprising AP reporter Melinda Deslatte on Monday.
For those of you who still believe Piyush is straightforward and honest with the voters of this state, let’s recap Deslatte’s story.
The Associated Press, she wrote, received copies of emails not provided in response to public records requests that revealed non-state government email addresses were used literally dozens of times by state officials last summer.
The subject of those emails dealt with a public relations campaign for slashing $523 million from the state Medicaid budget.
Piyush can’t even be original with that practice; former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin had initiated the practice during her administration before her 2008 campaign for vice president. So did former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Both got busted.
And now, Mr. Clean is caught with dirty fingers. It is nothing more than a sneaky effort to circumvent state law and Piyush should be held accountable for it.
For 144 state legislators who have shrunk from confronting Piyush, this should serve as a wakeup call; after all, they were also being kept in the dark on this.
One would think closing state prisons without giving area legislators a heads-up would have stirred legislative grumbling.
One would presume that closing hospitals without informing legislators would create some type of legislative backlash.
One would assume that demoting four legislators from committee assignments would bring lawmakers together in a united front.
One would think that firing a university president, agency heads, rank and file employees, and physicians would provoke a public outcry.
One would be wrong on all counts; this, apparently, is a state of sheeple who either have their heads where only their proctologists can find them or just don’t give a damn.
Apparently the only ones who bother to keep informed and who care about what is happening are those directly affected: teachers who are constantly denigrated by an absentee governor who chose as his chief of staff/right-hand man one Timmy Teepell, a man who was home schooled and knows not one whit about what public school teachers go through in dealing with discipline problems, apathetic parents or inadequate classroom resources (that have to be made up out of the teachers’ pockets). Nor do Jindal-Teepell realize—or care—that many teachers remain at school long after the last student has gone home and who work far into the night on lesson plans and grading papers. In short, they don’t have a clue.
There also are college administrators and professors who see their budgets being chopped in half and students who see their tuition costs rising by 40 percent against already prohibitive student loans. And to think, this governor chose as his campaign manager/right-hand man one Timmy Teepell who never set foot in a college classroom and who names to the board of supervisors of the state’s flagship university a man who has one semester of college.
And there are those state employees who have been privatized out of their careers and who faced the very real possibility earlier this year of seeing their retirement benefits slashed by as much as 85 percent (and remember, state employees are not eligible for social security benefits).
And to think, this governor announced that Teepell was leaving his administration in November of 2011 to head up the Baton Rouge office of OnMessage, a Virginia political consulting firm. Only problem is, OnMessage, a year later still has no local address or local telephone number and Teepell’s vehicle is parked on practically a daily basis in the rear parking lot of the State Capitol. Could he be running his private Baton Rouge OnMessage office out of the governor’s office? Hard to say because no one in the governor’s office is talking. But Jindal’s non-profit propaganda organization, Believe in Louisiana, has paid Teepell, through OnMessage, hundreds of thousands of dollars since Teepell supposedly left the governor’s office.
The emails were provided to AP by an administration official who, for obvious reasons, asked not to be identified. That makes us wonder if it could have been the same administration official who once told LouisianaVoice that Jindal was “dysfunctional.”
Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols, apparently backed into a transparent corner said, “Certainly we believe that conducting public business, even when using personal means of communication, is subject to public records law.”
How disingenuous can one be, given the fact that this administration has hidden behind something called the “deliberative process” since Day One?
The emails obtained by AP, however, were not included in the 3,800 documents and emails provided by the Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) in response to a request for information on discussions surrounding the health care cuts. So where was the public records law on that occasion, Kristy?
In one email exchange, Calder Lynch, a health policy adviser to DHH Secretary Bruce Greenstein, instructed a communications employee to send certain types of items to Lynch’s personal Gmail account instead of his state government email address.
That should come as no surprise to anyone. It was Greenstein, after all, who at his Senate confirmation hearing in June of 2011 refused to divulge the name of the winner of a 10-year, $300 million state Medicaid contract.
It turned out that the winner was a company called CNSI, a company for whom Greenstein had previously been employed. Once the name of the company was released—and then only after senators all but threatened Greenstein with thumbscrews—Greenstein insisted that he had built a “firewall” between him and the selection process and that he had had no contact with the company during that process.
Emails—state emails, no less—however, revealed that Greenstein had been in constant communication with his former employer prior to and during the selection of the contract winner.
Such is the definition of transparency and accountability in this administration.
The question that remains now is just how much longer will the state’s citizens—and a mostly compliant legislature, complete with a lapdog House Speaker (neutered, of course) and equally ambitious Senate President—continue to let Piyush Jindal make a laughingstock of the state and a cruel joke of the strictly theoretical definition of the separation of powers, checks and balances and three branches of government?