Never let it be said that Piyush Jindal doesn’t remember his friends. As long as the word “friends” is synonymous with the word “cash.”
Of the seven new appointments and one re-appointment to the University of Louisiana System board, six of those combined to contribute nearly $147,000 to Jindal political campaigns from 2003 through 2011, according to state campaign finance records.
The terms of seven of the 16 member board expired on Dec. 31. The eighth position was vacated when attorney Jimmy Faircloth, Jindal’s former executive counsel, resigned after two years on the board and was replaced by his wife, Kelly Faircloth, a chiropractor.
Faircloth, while serving on the board, recently was contracted by Jindal to represent the State Department of Education in a pair of lawsuits challenging the state voucher system and the teacher tenure revisions, both enacted last year by the state legislature as part of Jindal’s education reform package.
Faircloth contributed $14,000 and his former Alexandria law firm contributed an additional $9,000 to Jindal campaigns in 2003, 2006 and 2010. Of that total, Faircloth and his firm each contributed $5,000 to Jindal on the same date in December of 2006.
Only one of three re-appointees, Jimmie “Beau” Martin, Jr. of Cut Off, contributed to Jindal. Martin, family members and three family-owned businesses combined to contribute $34,278.30, records show.
Jimmy Long, Sr. of Natchitoches and Winfred Sibille of Sunset were also re-appointed to new six-year terms but neither was found to have contributed to Jindal.
The other four new appointees and their contributions include:
• Gary Solomon of New Orleans, chairman of Crescent Bank and Trust (replacing Renee Lapeyrolerie): $35,000 from Solomon and family members in 2003, 2007 and 2008 and another $7,199 from Crescent Bank in 2007 and 2009;
• Mark Romero of New Iberia, executive vice president of Brown & Brown Insurance (replacing Paul Aucoin of Morgan City): $1,000 from Romero in 2008 and $9,000 by his insurance firm in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011;
• Robert Shreve of Baton Rouge, CEO of Gulf South Business Systems and Consultants (replacing Russell Mosely of Baton Rouge): $11,000 in 2007 and 2009 and $1,000 by his firm in 2011;
• John Condos of Lake Charles (replacing Louis Lambert): $20,500 by Condos and his wife.
No one expects any governor to appoint political opponents to state boards and commissions but some elected officials might choose to appoint small-time contributors; appointment considerations with this governor, however, just don’t work that way.
Instead, Piyush has displayed a disturbing propensity to favor the big-dollar contributors in making his appointments and the same old names keep popping up, indicating that his solid core support base may be a smaller fraternity than one might assume.
It’s either that or he simply chooses to bestow appointments on only his biggest contributors and ignore the rest.