Archive for the ‘Attorney General’ Category

Imagine your dentist boss comes to you with a proposition:

Why don’t you help the board investigator do investigations for the board of dentistry? You can make some extra spending money by posing as a patient and presenting fake symptoms and false medical histories in hopes of gaining information and diagnosis that could be used against dentists in board hearings. The board can really use your help in putting the bad guys away.

What could go wrong, right? Your boss is a long-time member of the Louisiana State Board of Dentistry. He assures you this is done all the time. He even nicknames you “The Pink Panther” for your investigative efforts. Your thoughts go to all the extra money you will have for Christmas gifts this year.

A similar scenario happened with Karen Moorhead when she worked as a dental assistant for Dr. White Graves, a long-time board member, in Monroe. Moorhead testified that she worked “six or seven” undercover operations for board investigator Camp Morrison. She even testified to working undercover as an employee in an office that was under investigation by the LSBD.

The only problem is that no one told Ms. Moorhead what she was doing was against the law. Louisiana requires anyone getting paid to do undercover investigations have a valid private investigator’s license. Anyone caught doing this type of work without one is in violation of Louisiana criminal law, subjecting the offender for fines of up to $10,000 and up to a year in jail.

R.S 37:3507.2


It shall be unlawful for any person knowingly to commit any of the following acts:

(1) Provide contract or private investigator service without possessing a valid license.

(2) Employ an individual to perform the duties of a private investigator who is not the holder of a valid registration card.



Ms. Moorhead has found herself a defendant in an ongoing civil trial since 2011 because of this highly questionable and unethical, if not illegal, activity. Instead of hiring an independent attorney, she relied on the attorney provided by the board of dentistry, the very organization that got her in trouble in the first place. In fact, the board had the legislature change the law in order to cover her defense. She now claims attorney-client privilege with the Louisiana Attorney General’s office, and claims insurance coverage underwritten for state civil service employees. Never mind that Moorhead was an independent contractor doing work for a board contractor. Morrison’s contract specifically required him to hold an errors and omissions (E&O) insurance policy for such purposes that indemnifies the state against his actions. One former board member contends that the LSBD has spent over $500k on this suit. (Any state employee who is the subject of a civil lawsuit for actions taken in the scope of his or her employment is entitled to legal representation provided at the state’s expense. In the case of criminal prosecution for job-related actions, the employee may retain legal counsel of the employee’s choice and is entitled to have those legal costs reimbursed in the event of an acquittal. Moorhead, as a contractor, should not be entitled to legal representation provided by the state.)

More troubling, however, is the advice that her attorney has given her. The attorney Professional Rules of Conduct prohibit representing multiple clients when a conflict of interest exists between them. Barbara Melton, law partner to infamous Jimmy Faircloth, is a contract attorney for the board of dentistry—and she is defending both board investigator Camp Morrison and Moorhead at the same time. According to some legal analysts, that’s a major conundrum. One legal expert laid it out like this, “It’s apparent that Moorhead and Morrison may not share the same best interests. If I was hired to do a completely illegal job and was told that it was legal by supposedly reputable people and then found myself sued over it that would be a problem. I wouldn’t hesitate to sue the investigator, the board of dentistry, and possibly the boss that suggested the employment and got me into this mess in the first place.”

However, that’s not the advice that Melton seems to have given her. How could she recommend suing the board of dentistry and Morrison, who are both her clients? That recommendation should be off the table. Because of this conflict and lack of sound advice, Moorhead could find her troubles just beginning.

Several dentists have come together and are planning to file a civil class action suit against the Board of Dentistry and its agents. Moorhead’s involvement in “six or seven” cases, makes her the glue that ties this class action together. Moorhead may also have perjured herself in at least one deposition and during a board hearing. Finally, a recent affidavit from a Kenner dentist and Camp Morrison’s own billing records have Moorhead working undercover in an office that the board was investigating.

Although Moorhead originally bragged about working in this office, her story has changed and she remembers seeking but never being offered the job. This stands in stark contrast to the affidavit and billing records in hand. It’s possible that Moorhead may now risk jail time for perjury and continued ligation from multiple sources. She may have also committed tax fraud by not properly listing the income from these undercover jobs. Many believe the trouble Moorhead may be facing stems from the questionable legal advice she has been given. Meanwhile, the board attorney Barbara Melton has never missed a paycheck. She continues to represent the board of dentistry as a contract attorney.

Moorhead may want to check on her legal options, which some insist should include possibly adding her attorney to the list of people to sue. Moorhead certainly doesn’t appear to be innocent of the claims against her. But instead of stopping and ceasing to dig, her attorney appears to have helped her dig the hole deeper. It now appears to be one which she may not be able to escape.

The question must now be where the Attorney General’s office is in all this mess.

Buddy Caldwell is quick to issue press releases about child porn arrests, consumer fraud and CNSI. But he has been shamefully silent on the issue of going after offending power-mad, ego-driven Board of Dentistry members. These members have repeatedly demonstrated their intent to persecute dentists not in response to legitimate complaints but pursuant to board-initiated complaints generated by investigators and legal counsel. There is more than ample evidence to show that the board is set not on cleaning up the industry but in extracting hundreds of thousands of dollars from dentists denied the opportunity to properly defend themselves before a kangaroo court comprised of the same board members who bring the charges.

And while the attorney general’s job is to represent state agencies, he could be doing the board a service by offering his counsel to refrain from tromping on dentists’ due process rights. After all, should a class action lawsuit ensue, it’s going to cost the state a boatload of money to defend—and to pay any adverse judgment if that is the result. For no other reason than preventive maintenance, Caldwell should be offering his advice.

What has transpired thus far comes nowhere near the concept of due process. An attorney general committed to doing the job he was elected would have addressed this glaring problem long ago.


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Thank goodness for late-inning rallies Thursday and Friday nights by LSU’s No. 1-ranked baseball team to beat No. 2 Texas A&M 4-3  and 9-6, respectively. Otherwise, the news just keeps getting worse for Louisiana.

That’s right; we had to flip all the way back to the sports section to find anything good to write.

That’s because even as the legislature grapples with that $1.6 billion budgetary shortfall, things were becoming unraveled elsewhere as the administration was hit this week not with a double- but a triple-whammy that could end up costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars and could conceivably end up costing another LSU president his job.

We will try to take the events in chronological order.

On Tuesday, the administration received word from the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services that CMS AGAIN REJECTS the administration’s Cooperative Endeavor Agreements (CEAs) in connection with the controversial state hospital privatization plan pushed by Bobby Jindal “because the state has not met its burden of documenting the allowability of its claims for Federal Financial Participation (FFP).”

The decision apparently will cost the state $190 million, according to a letter to State Medicaid Director Ruth Kennedy from Acting CMS Director Nikki Wachino.

On the heels of that letter, Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols received notification from Attorney General Buddy Caldwell on Thursday that the state had been OVERPAID BY $17 MILLION in tobacco settlement money and would have to repay that amount to the tobacco companies who then will redistribute it to states that were underpaid.

And on Friday, State Treasurer John Kennedy announced that national investors had pulled out of a large portion of a major bond deal for LSU after concerns were raised on Wall Street by LSU President F. King Alexander who announced on Thursday that he was preparing paperwork for the state’s flagship university to file for financial exigency, or academic bankruptcy. http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2015/04/lsu_academic_bankruptcy.html

Kennedy, in a Friday news release, said his office was “trying to sort out the facts,” but essentially, a $114 million bond issue that was in the works appeared to fall flat when investors pulled out on about $80 million in commitments. The bond sale was to have funded a Family Housing Complex, residence halls and a Student Health Center and also would have saved interest on existing debt. http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?ca=e9da20fd-7c07-4e6d-9d75-82afa4fb05a9&c=cdce75a0-62fb-11e3-959d-d4ae52a459cd&ch=ce38f740-62fb-11e3-95d9-d4ae52a459cd

A BloombergBusiness report said that while investors who bought the $114 million of debt sold by LSU they were not told the school was considering filing for exigency. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-04-23/louisiana-state-bond-buyers-greeted-by-insolvency-plan-next-day

A declaration of exigency by LSU and other colleges and universities across the state would open the way for the schools to fire tenured professors. http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2015-04-23/louisiana-state-to-draft-insolvency-plan-as-jindal-plans-cuts

One state official confided in LouisianaVoice that Alexander, in his attempts to underscore the severity of the financial crisis in Louisiana higher education, currently facing still more deep budgetary cuts, may have overplayed his hand in making a “premature” announcement of such magnitude.

Meanwhile, word leaked out of a Board of Regents committee meeting Friday afternoon that as many as one-half to 75 percent of Louisiana colleges and universities may be unable to meet payroll by June unless some solution is found quickly to the fiscal crisis that has spread a mood of imminent doom across state campuses. That source said he does not believe a solution will be found until the last week of the session—if then.

With a vengeful governor like Bobby Jindal, anything perceived by him to place him in a bad light is met with severe repercussions, namely teaguing, and Alexander’s pronouncements have certainly reflected poorly on the administration.

For new readers who may not be familiar with the term, teaguing refers to Jindal’s firing of Melody Teague because of her testimony before the state government streamlining committee and the similar firing of her husband, Tommy Teague, only six months later from his job as Director of the Office of Group Benefits (OGB) when he failed to go along with the ill-fated privatization of that agency. Dozens of other state employees and legislators have been either fired or demoted from committee assignments by Jindal for lesser sins. LouisianaVoice learned today that Melody Teague, who was suffering from ALS, died in March. http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/theadvocate/obituary.aspx?pid=174404543

For his part, Jindal, after more than seven years in office, has finally admitted there is a problem with “corporate welfare” in Louisiana, i.e. corporations that do not pay any taxes to the state.

One classic example cited by Steve Spires of the Louisiana Budget Project was Wal-Mart, which is a Delaware-based corporation. Spires, speaking at a State of (Dis)Repair conference in Hammond on Thursday, noted that Louisiana Wal-Mart stores are leased by local entities who pay exorbitant rent to the corporate parent in Delaware, a state with no state income tax, thus avoiding income tax in Louisiana while reaping the benefits of other incentives such as Enterprise Zone designation and 10-year property tax exemptions.

Jindal has only in the past couple of weeks so much as acknowledged the state has a problem with its generous tax breaks for corporations which cost the state billions of dollars per year.

Thus, as the budget crisis grows progressively worse with each passing year, Jindal has resorted to more and more sleight of hand in patching over budget holes with one-money.

Caldwell, in his letter to Nichols and Kennedy, said a number of states had been underpaid in tobacco fund settlement money by the tobacco companies because of accounting errors, and that a corresponding number, including Louisiana, had been overpaid.

Louisiana, he said, was overpaid by about $17 million which will have to be repaid so the money can be redistributed to the proper states.

The CMS rejection has been a problem for the administration since the privatization deals with several private hospitals were signed, though DHH Secretary Kathy Kleibert has attempted to see the world through rose-colored glasses, always expressing optimism that the state’s plan would be approved.

Not so.

In her three-page letter to Ruth Kennedy, Wachino said, “After careful consideration, CMS cannot accept the arguments advanced by the State in its Request for Reconsideration. While CMS recognizes the State’s efforts at corrective action, such measures do not address the State’s noncompliance for the period in question (Jan. 1, 2013 through May 23, 2014). For the reasons stated above, as well as in CMS’s Dec. 23, 2014, disallowance letter, the…disallowance is affirmed.”

All in all, the state has seen better weeks.

Go LSU! We need a sweep badly!

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By Robert Burns (Special to LouisianaVoice)

LouisianaVoice readers may recall a December 15, 2014 post outlining state defense attorneys desperately fighting to block a deposition of Stephen Russo,  Secretary of the State Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH), to be conducted by Lewis Unglesby, lead plaintiff attorney in the Client Network Services Inc. (CNSI) civil lawsuit against the state.  CNSI alleges that Gov. Jindal’s office, in “consultation” with AG Caldwell’s Office, unjustly cancelled its contract to provide Medicaid processing services to DHH after news of a federal grand jury having convened to consider potential improprieties in the awarding of the contract broke.  The federal grand jury probe went nowhere, but Caldwell nevertheless continued a probe with a state grand jury.  Ultimately, that state grand jury indicted former DHH Secretary Bruce Greenstein for nine counts of alleged perjury entailing testimony to that grand jury or statements made at his senate confirmation hearing.

At that December hearing, Judge Kelley ruled that Russo could be deposed and that any attorney-client privilege had clearly been waived.  The AG’s Office filed an immediate appeal writ with the First Circuit (notwithstanding the fact Judge Kelley stated, “There’s nothing to appeal because this matter is clear,”).  The First Circuit upheld Judge Kelley’s ruling and denied the appeal.  During that December hearing, Unglesby stated AG Caldwell’s Office had “quite likely acted illegally” in publicly releasing Greenstein’s grand jury testimony.  A hearing to quash that testimony transpired in Greenstein’s criminal trial on March 20, 2015.

At that hearing, Greenstein criminal defense attorney, John McLindon, argued for protection of the grand jury “body” not only for the Greenstein case but for all future criminal trials.  He stated that denying his motion to quash the grand jury testimony would send a horrible signal that grand jury secrecy was a “sham” in Louisiana.  He also stated that AG Caldwell’s Office essentially engaged in an ex-parte maneuver in that the AG’s motion to file the grand jury transcript into the public record was “buried” at the end of the order.  McLindon also argued that David Caldwell had been deceptive in describing the motion in court on the day it was presented as a “routine procedure” to enable McLindon to obtain a copy of the testimony, which McLindon indicated he was entitled to anyway.  Judge Daniel ruled that the AG’s office acted properly in filing the transcript into the public record, but McLindon indicated he may likely appeal Judge Daniel’s ruling.

Louisiana Voice has now reviewed extensive court filings in the civil case in which CNSI attorneys lodge even more allegations of serious wrongdoing on the part of Caldwell’s Office.  Those allegations entail the testimony of CNSI whistleblower Stephen Smith.

Smith is the CNSI employee who sent an anonymous email to Jeffrey Branch with the Center for Medicare/Medicaid Services (CMS) under the alias of “Kunego.”  The email was sent sometime after a meeting which Smith had with Norm Nichols, President of Molina Medicaid Services, and the company which has managed Louisiana’s Medicaid processing for decades and which filed a protest after CNSI won the contract.  Smith testified that Nichols indicated that, although Molina lost the protest, “there were still things in the process that were questionable.”    Smith has moved on to Orlando, Florida where he serves as Vice President for Sellers Dorsey, LLC, which is a health policy consulting company.

On May 1, 2014, CNSI attorneys conducted a video deposition of Smith in Orlando.  During the deposition, Unglesby presented Smith with a copy of what the AG had supplied as the “Kunego report.”  That report, which was filed under seal soon after CNSI’s lawsuit was initiated, contained notations of AG investigator Scott Bailey’s interview of Smith (but identified as “Kunego”) on May 10th and May 11th of 2012.  Unglesby then asked Smith to take a pen and underline those portions of the interview notes for which he wished to claim were his words and recollections of the interview and to refrain from underlining those items for which he did not wish to assess as having originated from him.  As readers can readily tell from reading the 7-page report, Smith was only willing to claim responsibility for between 50-60% of it as evidenced by what is underlined.  Nevertheless, the report contains some rather intriguing allegations, not the least of which is contained on page five.  On that page, the report states:  “Bobby Jindal has what Kunego calls an India to India ancestor driven background and network of connections that brought CNSI and Jindal together.”

The deposition continued for an extended period, so the parties agreed to recess and reconvene on a later date, which turned out to be July 8, 2014.  Upon reconvening the deposition, Unglesby made an inquiry of Smith regarding whether he’d had any communication with anyone from the AG’s Office.  Smith responded that Scott Bailey, the AG investigator who had interviewed him for the Kunego report, had telephoned him twice and had flown to Orlando to meet with him on June 28, 2014.  Smith indicated that Bailey stated that he needed to clarify the timeframe of the meeting with Nichols and also to inform him that the AG’s office had provided CNSI attorneys with the “wrong version” of the Kunego report.  Smith testified that Bailey informed him that, on May 1, 2014, he’d been provided with the “unedited” Kunego report when he should have been provided with the “edited” report, which is the report the AG’s Office intended to supply to CNSI attorneys.

Smith then explained that the unedited report, which CNSI attorneys provided at the May 1, 2014 deposition, was what had confused him so much because it had statements in the report which he knew he hadn’t made and therefore caused confusion as to how such statements were in a report of an interview of him.  When Unglesby pressed Smith on whether he asked Bailey how such allegations, including that of Jindal’s “India to India ancestor driven background” and that being responsible for bringing CNSI and Jindal together, got in his interview report, Smith indicated that he did not press Bailey for any explanation.

CNSI attorneys, upon learning of these phone conversations between Bailey and Smith, the in-person meeting between the two on June 28, 2014, and the fact that two reports of Smith’s interview responses even exist, prompted strong accusations of witness tampering on the part of AG Caldwell’s Office.  CNSI attorney Michael McKay of the law firm Stone Pigman, in a Motion to Conduct Discovery Regarding Certain Activities of the AG’s Investigator, accuses AG investigator Scott Bailey of “outrageous witness tampering,” and seeks to depose Bailey about his conduct and actions and also have the AG surrender documents, including the “edited” Kunego report, which were shared between Bailey and Smith, along with documents and dates of correspondence between Smith and Nichols.

CNSI attorneys allege that the AG’s Office filed the “unedited” version of the “Kunego report” under seal with the full knowledge that it contained material not attributable to Smith as a means to “influence the public” and to justify a six-month stay being sought by the AG’s Office for all proceedings.  Although the motion to stay was denied (and the First Circuit upheld the denial on June 7, 2013), the AG’s Office filed a motion to limit discovery and a motion for Judge Kelley to recuse himself on the basis Unglesby had previously represented him.  Judge Caldwell denied the recusal motion on July 1, 2013; however, Judge Kelley granted a motion to stay all proceedings on July 30, 2013.  CNSI attorneys asserted that Kelley’s decision was based largely on the “unedited” Kunego report which they contended the AG’s Office knew full well contained material not supplied by Smith and for which the foundation is unknown.  CNSI attorneys also expressed frustration that, as of the date of their filing, August 22, 2014, they still had not been provided with the “edited” Kunego report.

The hearing on CNSI’s motion to depose Bailey was argued before Judge Kelley on October 7, 2014, and he granted the motion.  At a bare minimum, CNSI attorneys have already exposed a high level of ineptitude on the part of AG Caldwell’s Office in that it provided the wrong “version” of the Kunego report given how critical that report is to both the civil and criminal trials.  It is mind boggling that a document that critical wouldn’t be triple checked as being the one the AG’s Office wanted to ensure CNSI attorneys received.  The mere fact they would later have to admit to Smith that “we gave the CNSI attorneys the wrong version” speaks volumes as to the AG Office’s ineptitude.  Of course, as CNSI attorneys argued in their support memorandum, it begs the question as to why two versions of the report even exist at all.

It remains to be seen how successful CNSI’s attorneys may be in exploiting their allegation of witness tampering by the AG’s Office.  Obviously, their ultimate goal is to have Smith’s testimony at trial declared inadmissible based on inconsistency and the actions of AG Caldwell’s Office.  If they succeed, a huge defense to CNSI’s alleged wrongful contract termination may go by the wayside and expose Louisiana taxpayers to a substantial monetary award.  Further, if Smith’s testimony is ruled inadmissible, a spillover benefit to Greenstein’s criminal trial may also arise.

When combined with the recent scathing WWL investigative report on AG Caldwell, one can only question if the biggest beneficiary of all of the extensive focus of the ineptitude and controversies of Gov. Jindal has been AG Caldwell himself.  It certainly appears that for an extended period, he was able to fly below radar on his office’s ineptitude and potential serious wrongdoing.  Perhaps recent revelations of his actions may provide an excellent source of campaign fodder for the October election for Louisiana’s next attorney general.

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There’s blood in the water and the sharks are starting to circle.

To clarify the analogy somewhat, the blood is $750 million in tobacco settlement money and the sharks would be 144 state legislators and the guy masquerading as Louisiana’s governor.

Bobby Jindal, the same guy who as Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) in 1996, opposed the state’s participation in the 46-state litigation against the nation’s four largest tobacco companies, now wants to sell off the remaining portion of the 1998 settlement of that suit to generate $750 million for the state treasury.

That’s the same Bobby Jindal who as DHH secretary, was well aware that the state was spending millions of dollars per year in treatment of indigent patients for tobacco-related illnesses at the state’s charity hospitals, but nevertheless signed affidavits along with his boss, then-Gov. Mike Foster, that argued that Attorney General Richard Ieyoub did not have the authority to sue on behalf of the state and DHH.

That’s also the same Bobby Jindal who as governor in absentia, successfully opposed the lawsuit by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East (SLFPA-E) against 97 oil and gas companies in an effort to hold them accountable for damages to Louisiana’s coastal wetlands, claiming that SLFPA-E did not have authority to file suit on behalf of the state.

No matter. The tobacco litigation was settled for $365.5 billion in 1998 and the state was in line to receive $4.6 billion, or $141.2 million per year for 25 years and continued payments as long as tobacco products are sold within the state as its share of the settlement. http://kff.org/other/state-indicator/tobacco-settlement-payments/

But in 2001, the state, with the support of State Treasurer John Kennedy, sold 60 percent of its settlement income as a hedge against the possibility of bankruptcy by the tobacco companies. That money was placed in a trust fund that generates revenue for health care, education and the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS), the program that provides college scholarships to Louisiana high school students to meet curriculum and grade criteria.

Now, though, Jindal is proposing selling off the remaining 40 percent, a move that Kennedy opposes, saying it represents the same disastrous fiscal policy that is responsible for the current $1.6 billion structural deficit in the state budget.

Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols, in her usual condescending manner, said Kennedy does not understand what the administration is trying to do.

“The only way we will consider this is if it creates recurring revenue for TOPS,” she said, adding that the money would not be spent all at one time.

But Nichols and Jindal only have a few months left in office and have no way of guaranteeing how the money will be used and Kennedy is more than a little skeptical of Jindal’s motives. “It’s just another gimmick to generate one-time money,” he said. “It’s just not a good idea to sell the family silver.”

He said the administration does not have the authority to dictate how the money is spent. “That will be the decision of the legislature and with the history of the legislature being what it is, you know they can’t wait to get their hands on this money,” he said.

Kennedy said the proposed sale is much like the manner in which the Office of Group Benefits (OGB) saw its reserve fund reduced from $500 million to only about $100 million and still dwindling.

“The administration reduced premiums for OGB members which on the surface, looked like a great thing for the members.” What the administration didn’t say is that the move also reduced the state’s corresponding obligation to match premiums, thus freeing up money the state would have paid into OGB for helping Jindal patch his budget holes. Meanwhile, because of reduction in income from premiums, OGB found itself paying out about $14 million more in benefits each month than it was taking in, thus creating a continuous drawdown on the reserve fund.

Kennedy said the revenue from the sale of the tobacco settlement cannot be used to plug budget holes because it would have to be used for TOPS and higher education. But by dedicating the money for TOPS, it would allow the administration to take the money it would normally use for those two purposes and redirect it to the state budget.

Kennedy said the administration has taken on all the characteristics of a junkie in search of a fix.

He said Jindal’s chronic use of one-time money to fill budget holes has included selling state property, raiding the Medicaid Trust Fund for the Elderly, indirectly taking funds from the OGB reserve fund. “When you get hooked badly enough, you will sell your shoes for a fix,” Kennedy said. “Any farmer knows it’s a bad idea to sell your seed corn because then you don’t have anything to plant next year’s crop.”

Noting that Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s bond rating agencies have already put Louisiana on negative credit watch, he said the rating agencies will take a dim view of the state’s selloff of the remainder of the tobacco settlement which is currently generating about $50 million a year for the state.

Nichols said the proposal to sell the remaining 40 percent of the settlement would have to be approved by the Tobacco Settlement Financing Corp. Board, the Legislature and the State Bond Commission. The board is scheduled to meet Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. in House Committee Room 1 in the State Capitol.

Approval by the board is expected to be a mere formality since the board members are Jindal appointees.

“My fear is that all $750 million of this money will be spent,” Kennedy said. “Everyone will want a piece of the pie. That will only add to our structural deficit and what will we do next once the money is gone? We’ve got to stop thinking about the next election and begin thinking about the next generation. Don’t hold this fire sale.”

If the board does approve it and it goes before the Legislature, “we are going to do everything we can to oppose the sale,” Kennedy said.

The practice of Bobby Jindal’s selling off everything in sight to raise money is reminiscent of a 2011 comment by former State Sen. Butch Gautreaux (D-Morgan City) who, in criticizing Jindal’s practice of selling state property, suggested acerbically that perhaps the administration should consider selling the 24-story State Capitol building because “it would make a great waterslide.” http://louisianavoice.com/2011/04/29/of-water-slides-and-comparisons-between-2-state-health-plans/


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The Oct. 11 primary election for governor is still seven months off but it’s never too early for conducting polls to see the early seeding of candidates and an early poll has shown a surprisingly strong showing by Democratic State Rep. John Bel Edwards of Amite. MARCH 6 POLL

The poll, dated March 6, was conducted on March 5 by Triumph Campaigns. A survey of 1,655 participants, it was the first public poll completed since two of the gubernatorial candidates launched paid media buys or since several public debates were held in that race.

The poll also measured voter preferences for lieutenant governor, attorney general and commissioner of insurance.

With a margin or error of 2.4 percent, Edwards trailed U.S. Sen. David Vitter by only two percentage points, 35 percent to 33 percent. A further breakdown shows Vitter with 23 percent “definitely” favoring him and 12 percent as “probable.” Edwards had 16 percent “definite” and 17 percent “probable,” the poll shows.

Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne is running third with 15 percent (8 percent definite and 7 percent probable), while Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle trails with 7 percent (3 percent definite and 4 percent probable). The remaining 11 percent were undecided.

Breaking the race down by political party preference, 53 percent favored a Republican candidate and 47 percent preferred a Democrat. The percentages were nearly identical on the question of which party best represents respondents’ point of view with 54 percent saying Republican and 46 percent leaning toward Republican.

The poll also reflects that 69 percent of respondents do not feel the state is headed in the right direction while less a third, 31 percent, feel the state is on track.

To the question of approval of the job being done by Gov. Bobby Jindal, 63 percent disapproved, 27 percent approved and 10 percent were undecided. The 27 percent approval rating represents a new low approval rating for the state’s mostly absentee governor who was out of the state a full 45 percent of the time in 2014, according to the Baton Rouge Advocate.

Of the respondents polled 54 percent were female and 46 male; 48 percent were registered Democrats, 35 percent Republican and 17 percent independent. 69 percent were white, 27 percent black, 1 percent Hispanic and 3 percent “other.”

For lieutenant governor, Baton Rouge Mayor-President Kip Holden leads with 33 percent, followed by Billy Nungesser at 23 percent and John Young at 20 percent. State Sen. Elbert Guillory (R/D/R-Opelousas) had 4 percent.

Attorney General Buddy Caldwell appears to be in trouble early on, locked in a dead heat with Democrat Jacque Roy at 30 percent with Republican Jeff Landry at 20 percent and the remaining 20 percent undecided.

State Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon, with 45 percent, appears to have a solid lead for re-election over challenger Matt Parker at 13 percent. The remaining 41 percent were undecided. Those numbers could be skewed considerably should State Treasurer John Kennedy opt to run for attorney general but he is as yet unannounced.

Indeed, the numbers are expected to shift considerably in all races once the full-fledged media blitz is launched by the various candidates and as PAC money flows into the coffers of candidates favored by business, oil and other special interests.

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