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Archive for the ‘Campaign Contributions’ Category

The controversy over that 55,000-acre hunting lodge that straddles three central Louisiana parishes has taken a new and curious twist as the result of a $1.7 million highway resurfacing project that conveniently runs right past the entrance to the lodge that is owned by a major contributor to Gov. Bobby Jindal and to unsuccessful congressional candidate State Sen. Neil Riser.

The overlay of LA. 127, also known locally as the Olla-Sikes Highway, started on Feb. 20 at the Caldwell Parish line and run 5.5 miles east in Winn Parish to LA. 1238, according to an announcement by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD).

The intent of the project is to patch, cold plane and overlay the existing roadway with 3.5 inches of asphaltic concrete and is expected to take about 50 working days to complete.

The project is being financed by state and federal funding, according to an announcement last September by Jindal. He said at the end of each federal fiscal year (Sept. 30 of each year), the U.S. Department of Transportation gathers funds that some states will not spend and reallocates the funding to states that are successful in obligating their full federal highway funding allotment during the fiscal year.

As a result of that, DOTD recently received $34.2 million in additional federal highway funding to use for projects and the Winn Parish project was one of 12 projects totaling $34.2 million announced by Jindal.

Resident Gary L. Hatten said he did not feel LA 127 was in need of repairs nearly as much as LA. 125, the Olla-Winnfield Highway, and he feels the LA. 127 work is nothing more than political payback to Riser, whose state senatorial district includes the hunting lodge, and to Jindal.

A search of political campaign contributions would appear to support that theory. Last Nov. 4, Busbice and his wife, Beth Busbice, each contributed the maximum allowable $2,600 ($5,200 total) to Riser’s campaign for the 5th Congressional District seat won by Vance McAllister.

Jindal also picked up $20,000 from Busbice and from Busbice’s father-in-law Alfred Lippman of Morgan City, the registered agent for Olla Productions, LLC., one of Busbice’s many business enterprises.

Busbice contributed $5,000 to Jindal in April of 2009 and Beth Busbice gave another $5,000 in December of that same year, while Lippman contributed $5,000 in October of 2003, $3,500 in April of 2009 and his firm, Lippman, Malfouz, Tranchina & Thorguson of Morgan City gave another $1,500 in September of 2010.

Additionally, one of Lippman’s law partners, David Thorguson and his wife contributed $1,300 to Jindal, Jindal campaign records show.

LA. 127 runs for 54.7 miles south from a point east of Kitterlin Bay in La Salle Parish to LA. 126 in Winn Parish but the construction project includes only a 10th of that distance and conveniently runs right up to the camp’s entrance and stops at the property of TV reality show Swamp People star Troy “Choot ‘em” Landry, whose campsite is located within the hunting camp, said Hatten, a fact that some residents find particularly convenient and more than a little galling.

Lippman is Landry’s attorney and Landry was king of this year’s Krewe of Hepaestus, the premier Mardi Gras organization in Morgan City of which Lippman is a longtime member. Lippman also was master of ceremonies for former Gov. Mike Foster’s first inaugural party in 1996.

Busbice began purchasing some 55,000 acres in the three parishes, mostly in Winn, after Louisiana-Pacific shut down its operations at Urania in 2002. Louisiana-Pacific initially sold the forest land to Barrs & Glawson Investments of Atlanta, GA, to Roy O. Martin Lumber Co. and to Martin-Urania Corp. for $74 million. Barrs & Glawson re-sold tracts totaling 50,383 acres in Winn, 6,068 acres in LaSalle and 4,800 in Caldwell to Six-C Properties, headed by Busbice.

Since purchasing the land, Busbice has erected eight-foot fencing around the property and constructed a hunting lodge on the land that caters to high rollers who don’t mind ponying up a few thousand dollars for the privilege to hunt deer.

The hunting lodge, a participant in the state’s Dear Management Assistance Program (DMAP), is owned by William “Bill” Busbice of Broussard and has been a bone of contention with property owners in Winn, LaSalle and Caldwell parishes who claim that the Busbice has fenced off the 55,000 acres, thus entrapping deer and other game at the expense of area residents who claim they have been deprived of their hunting rights.

Two residents were arrested for trespassing on hunting camp property and the two, Wyndel Earl Gough and Hatten, promptly filed a wrongful arrest lawsuit against Busbice, hunting camp overseer Terry Carr and wildlife agent Rusty Parry.

Another local resident, Michael Atkins, sued Busbice and his company, Six-C Properties, after Busbice erected a fence completely surrounding 10 acres of land owned by Atkins. His lawsuit, which he won at the trial court level but which was overturned in part on appeal, contended that the fence not only prevented him from hunting but also blocked access to his property.

Names that have surfaced in what has become a conspiracy-laden story include imprisoned former Winn Parish Tax Assessor A.D. “Bodie” Little (now in federal prison for drug possession with intent to distribute), former Gov. Mike Foster and former Vice President Dick Cheney.

An Alexandria Town Talk investigation revealed that several of Little’s friends benefitted from under-assessments. Among those was Six-C, which was the beneficiary of an assessment that was $351,800 low, according to one local resident.

Under the $20 per acre forestland value, Six-C was billed $98,601 on its Winn Parish properties, then consisting of 31,600 acres. Winn Parish resident Grady McFarland, however, said Six-C should have paid taxes based on an $88.90 per acre value, or $450,410.

Landowners, including the Goughs, maintain that Foster hosted Cheney on a hunting trip in 2002 and shortly afterwards a federal grant came through Foster’s administration which was used to purchase the land which eventually came under the control of Busbice and Six-C.

Efforts by LouisianaVoice to confirm that allegation have been unsuccessful, though an entry of more than $87.86 million was included on page 29 in Foster’s fiscal year 2003-2004 executive budget under the column heading of Federal Funds.

Marty Milner, fiscal officer for the Office of Facility Planning and Control, said in a 2008 email to investigator Art Walker that he had found the $87.86 million but some projects were funded through the Department of the Military and the Department of Transportation and Development but his office did not handle the accounting for those departments. Accordingly, he said, he was unable to determine the disposition of the money.

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Could Bobby Jindal possibly embarrass himself any more than he did on Monday?

Could he possibly have revealed himself any more of a calloused, uncaring hypocrite than he did on Monday?

Jindal’s outburst upon exiting a meeting between the nation’s governors and President Barack Obama Monday was a petulant display of immaturity that only served to underscore his disgraceful scorn for Louisiana’s working poor in favor of pandering to the mega-rich Koch brothers.

His shameless promotion of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline project coupled with his criticism of Obama’s push for a minimum wage increase comes on the heels of word that Jindal is literally stealing from the blind in drawing down more than half of a trust fund established to assist blind vendors in state buildings to purchase equipment, to pay for repairs and to pay medical bills. http://theadvocate.com/news/8440065-123/blind-vendors-jindals-office-spar

That trust fund has shrunk from $1.6 million to about $700,000, apparently because of yet another lawsuit the administration finds itself embroiled in over the delivery of food services at Fort Polk in Leesville that has sucked up $365,000 in legal fees, of which the state is responsible for 21 percent, or $76,650.

(I worked for the Office of Risk Management for 20 years and $365,000 in legal fees is not unreasonable for a major lawsuit that involves significant injuries or death where liability is in question. But $365,000 in attorney bills in a lawsuit over who gets to run the cafeteria, a commissary and a grocery store would seem to be a tad high—even for the law firm Shows, Cali, Berthelot and Walsh, which is representing the state under a $500,000 contract with the Louisiana Workforce Commission.)

Rubbing salt into the wounds is the fact that the Blind Vendors Committee, which is supposed to have a say in policy decisions, has been left out of the loop over the Fort Polk controversy.

Curt Eysink, executive director of the Louisiana Workforce Commission, justified the hiring of private attorneys to defend the litigation by saying his office’s staff attorneys are too busy to handle the contract lawsuit.

That brings up two questions:

  • Busy doing what?
  • And isn’t this the same administration that pitched a hissy fit when the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East contracted with a private attorney to seek damages from 97 oil companies for destroying the Louisiana wetlands?

But back to the boy blunder. Jindal turns his back on a minimum wage increase for the working poor to stand outside the White House to chat up the Keystone pipeline which would have the potential of generating $100 billion in profit for Charles and David Koch?

Today’s (Wednesday) Baton Rouge Advocate ran this editorial cartoon that is certain to become a classic in that it symbolizes the defining moment of the Jindal administration:

http://theadvocate.com/multimedia/walthandelsman/8477684-123/walt-handelsman-for-feb-26

Jindal said of Obama’s push for an increase in the minimum wage that the president “seems to be waving the white flag of surrender” and that Obama’s economy “is now the minimum wage economy. I think we can do better than that.” And by “better,” he was referring to the Keystone pipeline which he said Obama would approve if he were “serious about growing the economy.”

Connecticut Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy almost pushed Jindal aside in his eagerness to take the microphone to say, “Wait a second. Until a few moments ago we were going down a pretty cooperative road. So let me just say that we don’t all agree that moving Canadian oil through the United States is necessarily the best thing for the United States economy.” He said Jindal’s “white flag” comment was the most partisan of the weekend conference and that many governors, unlike Jindal, support an increase in the minimum wage.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, also a Democrat, was a bit blunter, calling Jindal a “cheap shot artist” as he walked off the White House grounds.

Jindal, of course, wants to be president so badly that he is perfectly willing to sell his soul to the Koch brothers and their organizations Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in the apparent hope that some of their AFP money might find its way into his campaign coffers.

AFP is the same super PAC that recently hired professional actors to pose as Louisiana citizens claiming that Obamacare is hurting their families. The merits of lack thereof of Obamacare aside, this is politics at its very sleaziest and our governor is in bed with them.

But this is perfectly in keeping with his character as governor. He has attempted to rob state employees of their retirement benefits. He has attempted to destroy public education with a full frontal attack on teachers. His administration has handed out huge no-bid contracts to consultants as if they were beads at a Mardi Gras parade. He has handed over the state’s charity hospital system to private concerns, including two facilities that went to a member of his LSU Board of Stuporvisors. He has run roughshod over higher education. He has fired appointees and demoted legislators who dared think for themselves. He has refused to expand Medicaid despite living in a state with one of the highest number of citizens lacking medical insurance. He has crisscrossed the country making silly speeches designed only to promote his presidential ambitions by keeping his name before the public. He has written countless op-ed pieces and appeared on network TV news shows for the same purpose.

And still, whenever the pundits start listing the potential Republican presidential contenders for 2016, he name never appears as a blip on their radar. Even Sarah Palin’s name pops up now and then but never Jindal’s.

Even readers of his favorite political blog, The Hayride, which among other things 1), recently featured an infomercial touting a sure-fire cancer cure and 2), got taken in by a hoax video depicting an eagle swooping down and trying to grab an infant in a park, seem to hold Jindal in low regard. A couple of weeks ago The Hayride conducted its own poll of potential Republican candidates for president in 2016.

Here are their results:

  • Sen. Ted Cruz: 39.9 percent;
  • Sen. Rand Paul: 20.7 percent;
  • Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker: 10.1 percent;
  • Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin: 5.8 percent;
  • Other/Undecided: 24.9 percent.

That’s it. No Jindal. And this from a decidedly pro-Jindal Louisiana political blog. We can only assume he may have shown up somewhere among the 24.9 percent undecided. But this much we do know: he was beaten by Sarah Palin.

At this point, we don’t need a poll to tell us that Jindal would be far better suited as the auctioneer in that GEICO commercial or as the disclaimer voice at the end of those pharmaceutical ads that tell us how we could all die from side effects of the drug that’s being advertised to help with our medical malady—or perhaps even better as the really rapid fire voice that absolutely no one on earth can understand at the end of those automobile commercials.

He has, after all, been auditioning for the part for six years now.

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By general consensus, State Sen. Robert Adley (R-Benton) is regarded as one of the most principled, most respected members of the Louisiana Legislature.

Over the past several legislative sessions, he has annually introduced bills to force more transparency in the governor’s office by requiring greater accessibility to records kept under protective wraps by a governor already vested with more power than virtually all of his 49 contemporaries.

It has been a lonely fight with his fellow lawmakers mysteriously reluctant to stand up to Gov. Bobby Jindal. Still, he has soldiered on, willing to strive in near solitude for more openness in the executive branch.

So why, then, has he suddenly pre-filed Senate Bill 79 which would only give Jindal even more power by giving him greater freedom in appointing members of a levee board, specifically the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authorities of both the east and west banks?

Adley, in reflecting on experiences with four previous governors—Edwin Edwards, Buddy Roemer, Mike Foster and Kathleen Blanco—said he had “never seen the kind of things I’ve seen in this administration.”

He cited the Louisiana Transparency and Accountability Web site on which Jindal is quoted as saying, “I have advocated for transparent government, as I believe that the bright light of transparency and public access should extend to every corner of the state budget. An honest government has nothing to fear from openness.”

That being case, Adley said, “Why does the governor fight attempts to open his office’s records? You’re either for transparency or you’re not.”

Adley’s bill would do two things: give Jindal the authority to reject nominees to the two boards and require the committee that chooses nominees to present him a longer list of candidates from which to select members.

The bill, as written, would all but abolish restrictions that prohibit politicians from determining who is appointed to the two boards. It would serve as a major boost to Jindal who has sought to replace members of the east bank authority to support litigation against more than 90 oil and gas companies.

The bill also provides that rejected candidates would be ineligible for re-nomination and if new names were not submitted by the nominating committee, the governor would then be enabled to make the selections himself.

On the surface, given Adley’s penchant for openness and accountability, the bill defies logic since it is obviously a counteroffensive to attempts by The Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority East (SLFPAE) to push for a historic lawsuit that would hold oil and gas companies responsible for damages to coastal wetlands.

Jindal has made no secret that he would refuse to appoint members to the board who support the lawsuit and he has already kicked three members off the authority who supported the litigation, including former chairman John Barry.

SLFPAE is attempting to force the oil and gas companies to restore the wetlands or pay SLFPAE for damages, with the money going to the state’s coastal restoration efforts.

The lawsuit claims that the companies destroyed the state’s coastal wetlands by dredging canals that contributed to erosion. The marshes heretofore had served as a natural buffer that mitigated storm surge, a reality abundantly clear to residents of New Orleans. The suit, if successful, could cost the companies billions of dollars.

Adley’s SB79 should come as no surprise, given his opposition to the lawsuit but some might question why Adley would oppose the legal action against the companies in the first place.

As that AT&T commercial says, it’s not complicated.

Adley has owned Pelican Gas Management Co. since 1993, was president of ABCO Petroleum from 1972 to 1993, is affiliated with the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, and, more importantly, has been the recipient of more than $150,000 in campaign contributions over the years from companies, political action committees, and individuals affiliated with or controlled by oil and gas interests.

Adley could claim that the contributions had no bearing on his opposition to the litigation or to his filing a bill that flies in the face of his call for more openness on the part of the governor’s office, but such an argument would be disingenuous at best and downright dishonest and self-serving at worst.

Adley’s bill was assigned to the Senate Transportation, Highways & Public Works Committee.

Somehow, it seems to us that a more appropriate committee assignment might have been the Natural Resources Committee. Or perhaps the Environmental Quality Committee or even the Commerce, Consumer Protection and International Affairs Committee.

We are told, however, that the assignment to that committee is appropriate in that Senate rules vest jurisdiction of legislation affecting levee boards with Transportation, Highways & Public Works, though an argument could be made that because the bill deals with appointments subject to confirmation, that it could have been assigned to the Senate & Governmental Affairs Committee.

The chairman of Transportation, Highways & Public Works?

Robert Adley. (318) 965-1755, adleyr@legis.la.gov

Oops.

Other members and their oil and gas-related contributions in descending order (and their contact information that we gave you earlier):

  • Troy Brown (D-Napoleonville)—(985) 369-3333, brownte@legis.la.gov, $0 (as in nothing, nada, zilch).

This lawsuit, as District 5 Public Service Commissioner and former gubernatorial candidate Foster Campbell (D-Elm Grove) has said on many occasions, is about holding the oil and gas companies accountable for the damage done to Louisiana’s coastline. “If your neighbor runs his car into your fence and knocks it down, you would expect him to pay for the repairs,” the Bossier Parish native said. “That’s all this litigation is about—holding someone accountable for the damage done to our property.”

Opponents, including the ultra-Tea Party blog The Hayride, have latched onto the claim that the lawsuit has earned Louisiana the designation as a “judicial hellhole.”

By providing the contact information of the committee members who will be considering Adley’s bill, we have given both opponents and proponents an opportunity to pass their sentiments on to their elected officials.

And that, friends and neighbors, is called democracy in action in a representative government.

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Two months ago, when the Federal Communications Commission allotted $8 million to expand broadband Internet access in rural Louisiana areas, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu was quick to praise, perhaps a bit prematurely, the “investment” while Gov. Bobby Jindal remained uncharacteristically silent.

Despite Landrieu’s laudatory claim that the funds would “upgrade the digital infrastructure in rural communities,” the $8 million represented only 10 percent of an $80 million grant for Louisiana that was rescinded in October of 2011 because of Jindal’s aversion to what then Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater deemed a “top-down, government-heavy approach that would compete with and undermine, rather than partner with the private sector…”

What Rainwater—and through him, his boss, Jindal—did not acknowledge is that the Jindal administration’s obsession with protecting the private sector at the expense of broadband Internet service to customers in the rural areas of the central and northeastern parts of the state was part of the 12-year-old official position staked out by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in August of 2002. http://alecexposed.org/w/images/6/6f/9A15-Municipal_Telecommunications_Private_Industry_Safeguards_Act_Exposed.pdf

Also ignored by the Jindal administration—and ALEC—is that broadband service in the U.S. is woefully inadequate when compared with countries like South Korea, Japan and even Portugal and Italy. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/competition-and-the-internet/

And it’s even worse in the country’s rural areas. http://deltafarmpress.com/blog/broadband-service-rural-areas-promise-still-exceeds-reality

No doubt you’ve seen those cute AT&T commercials featuring the man sitting at a table with children. He asks a question and gets feedback from the kids and the commercial ends with, “It’s not complicated.”

Indeed it is not. In 2008, Jindal’s very first year as governor, he signed SB-807 into law as Act 433 over the objections of the Louisiana Municipal and State Police Jury associations. The bill, the Consumer Choice for Television Act, was authored by then-Sen. Ann Duplessis (D-New Orleans). It passed the Senate by a 34-1 vote with only Dale Erdy (R-Livingston) voting no. Absent and not voting were Sens. Robert Adley (R-Benton), Jody Amedee (R-Gonzales) and Sheri Smith Buffington (R-Keithville).

AT&T, which contributed $10,000 to Jindal’s campaign since 2007, supported the bill. AT&T also contributed $250,000 to the Supriya Jindal Foundation for Louisiana’s Children.

It’s not complicated.

It also passed overwhelmingly in the House by a 94-9 vote. The only members casting no-votes were Reps. James Armes (D-Leesville), Thomas Carmody (R-Shreveport), Greg Cromer (R-Slidell), Jean Doerge (D-Minden), Ricky Hardy (D-Lafayette), Lowell Hazel (R-Pineville), Robert Johnson (D-Marksville), Sam Jones (D-Franklin), and Chris Roy (D-Alexandria). Rep. James Morris (R-Oil City) was absent and did not vote.

The only ALEC member to go against the official doctrine was Carmody. He attended ALEC’s 2010 annual meeting in San Diego at which the organization’s Telecommunications & Information Technology Task Force passed an official resolution in potential opposition to private telephone and cable companies by public bodies such as city councils and parish governments. http://louisianavoice.com/2012/05/09/could-loss-of-that-80-6-million-broadband-internet-federal-grant-last-fall-have-been-deliberately-orchestrated-by-alec/

Other members of the Louisiana Legislature who attended that meeting included Reps. John LaBruzzo (R-Metairie), Robert Johnson (D-Marksville), Tim Burns (R-Mandeville), State Chairman Joe Harrison (R-Gray), Bernard LeBas (D-Ville Platte) and Sen. Yvonne Dorsey (D-Baton Rouge).

Act 433 well may even have been written by AT&T, which is a member of ALEC and a member of ALEC’s Communications and Technology Task Force. AT&T chipped in $50,000 to the ALEC cause in 2010 and was a member of the Louisiana Host Committee for ALEC’s 2012 annual meeting in New Orleans. Jindal was the recipient of ALEC’s Thomas Jefferson Freedom Award at that 2012 meeting. http://www.alec.org/hundreds-of-state-legislators/

It’s not complicated.

And lest one think that Louisiana’s loss of the $80 million broadband grant in 2011 was the exception, consider this:

  • Early this year, the Kansas Legislature undertook Campaign Stop Google Fiber—and any cities that may wish to invest in broadband network technologies. Included in legislation introduced in the legislature were stipulations that except with regard to unserved areas, a municipality may not themselves offer to provide or lease, construct, maintain or operate any facility for the purpose of allowing a private entity to offer, provide, carry or deliver video, telecommunications or broadband service. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/01/30/1273848/-Kansas-moves-to-Stop-Broadband-Internet-to-residents?detail=email
  • In February of 2011, the Minnesota Cable Communications Association (MCCA) initiated a public battle with National Public Broadband (NPB) by inundating Lake County with a flurry of public records request designed to slow NPB’s efforts to bring broadband Internet to rural areas of Lake County.

While MCCA correctly asserts that Lake County should act transparently, the barrage of requests submitted by the association makes its intent to protect its own financial interests over those of rural residents of the county is quite apparent. Its monopoly is, after all, being threatened and those cable services that are overpriced and which provide as little speed as possible are fighting back.

Certainly it’s only coincidental that AT&T, CenturyLink, Charter Communications, Comcast, Excel Communications, Fair Point Communications, Sprint Nextel, Verizon, and Cox Communications are members of ALEC. All but Excel and Fair Point serve on ALEC’s Communications and Technology Task Force. http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/ALEC_Corporations.

It’s not complicated.

So, given Jindal’s cozy relationship with ALEC and given ALEC’s opposition to public participation in expanding broadband Internet service to rural areas in competition with ALEC members, it’s perfectly understandable why Jindal eschewed that “top-down” management of the $80 million grant.

It’s not complicated.

And it is equally apparent that the monopolistic advantage enjoyed by private sector providers be protected at all cost—even at the cost of creating some 900 miles of cable over 21 rural parishes that would support several Louisiana universities with expanded optical fiber networking capacity.

It’s not complicated.

Top-down management apparently is good only when it originates from the fourth floor of the State Capitol. Just ask any legislator, former state employee, or board or commission member who has dared to contradict him on any issue.

It’s not complicated.

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While the Alabama Crimson Tide was beating LSU 21-0 in the BCS national championship game in the Mercedes Benz Superdome on Jan. 9, 2012, U.S. Sen. David Vitter was entertaining a number of guests in one of the Superdome’s 152 luxury suites—at a hefty cost, LouisianaVoice has learned.

Vitter, who apparently gained access to the suite through corporate largesse, took full advantage of the occasion to charge guests $4,000 per seat, according to one person who was there.

Ticket scalping laws vary from state to state and in Louisiana:

  • Tickets cannot be sold at more than their face value price except on the Internet;
  • Tickets for university sporting events cannot be sold online by Louisiana legislators or university students;
  • Tickets can be resold online at greater than their face value price if approved by both the event operator (NCAA) and the venue operator (the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District).

The Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District (LSED), the governing board of the Superdome, owns one of the suites and the remaining 151 are owned not by the State of Louisiana, but by the New Orleans Saints (a windfall of some $10 million to the Saints) and leased for annual lease fees ranging from $50,000 to $100,000 per year, a LSED spokesperson told LouisianaVoice. All 151 suites are under lease to private entities, according to information obtained from the Saints office.

Sixty-four suites are located on the 400 level of the Superdome and offer a range of 22 to 40 seats per suite. The remaining 88 suites are located on the 300 level and offer 16 to 20 seats per suite, according to the stadium’s web page.

Vitter failed to respond to three email inquiries from LouisianaVoice that asked:

  • Who (corporate entity or individual) provided you access to a luxury box for that game?
  • What was the seating capacity for that luxury box at that game?
  • How many guests did you entertain in that luxury box for that game?

He also was asked to identify those in attendance as his guests in the suite for the game.

Depending on the number of seats available and allowing that all seats except for those for Vitter and his family were sold, he could have netted between $50,000 and $150,000 for that event.

Federal election laws place a cap on individual political contributions. That cap varies but in 2012, it was $2,500. Federal laws also prohibit direct contributions to federal candidates from corporations. The $4,000 price would have exceeded the maximum allowable contribution.

While Vitter’s campaign contributions for the time period encompassing the LSU-Alabama game list no individual contributions that would appear to be connected to the sale of seats, corporations may make unlimited contributions to the so-called Super PACs.

Vitter’s Super Pac, the Fund for Louisiana’s Future, raised $1.5 million last year, according to Washington, D.C., fundraiser Charlie Spies.

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“If I closed my mind when I saw this man in the dust throwing some bones on the ground, semi-clothed, if I had closed him off and just said, ‘That’s not science, I am not going to see this doctor,’ I would have shut off a very good experience for myself and actually would not have discovered some things that he told me that I had to do when I got home to see my doctor.”

—State Sen. Elbert Guillory (R/D/R-Opelousas), defending Louisiana’s Science Education Act, the 2008 law that allows creationism to be taught in public school science classrooms during a Senate Education Committee hearing last May. 

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State Sen. Elbert Guillory is the first to make it official that he is a candidate for lieutenant governor for 2015 but not before he changed his party affiliation—a second time within a span of seven years—to fit what he must consider to be the state’s demographic profile the same way he changed the first time to fit the St. Landry Parish demographic profile.

Besides his chameleon-like political persona, Guillory is an object of some interest in a couple of other ways, including his abruptly leaving his post with the Seattle Human Rights Department under a cloud, a reprimand by the state attorney disciplinary board and the expenditure of his campaign funds in payments to apparent family members.

Seven separate payments totaling $10,000 were paid in 2009 and 2010 to Yvonne Guillory of Opelousas who happens to be Guillory’s ex-wife. Another payment of $1,000 was made in 2007 to Marie Guillory of the same address as Yvonne Guillory.

Another $2,500 payment was made in August of 2011 to Guillory Window Tinting of Eunice for campaign vehicle signs.

It is his repeated brushes with ethics problems, however, that might be Guillory’s biggest obstacle to being elected to statewide office.

A story in the Dec 31, 1981, Seattle Post-Intelligencer noted that Guillory had dropped out of sight and his office had no word of his whereabouts after it was learned he was under investigation for ethics violations.

After only a little more than a year on the job as director of the Seattle Human Rights Department, Guillory was suspended without pay and subsequently resigned after being charged with five counts of violating the city’s ethics code.

Among the things the investigation found that Guillory had done:

  • Awarded a $9,999 contract (one dollar below the $10,000 threshold requiring contracts to be publically bid) to the Seattle firm of LombardSyferd Communications. One of the partners in the firm, Mona Gayton, signed off on payment for contract work that was never done. She and Guillory took out a marriage license on Nov. 23, 1981 and they were later married.
  • Billed the city for two weeks’ work while he was on his honeymoon in Tahiti (even though he had no accumulated vacation time);
  • Allowed an employee to bill the city for time spent driving Guillory’s car cross-country from his former residence in Baltimore;
  • Hired two friends from Baltimore to teach seminars to his human rights staff at $500 per day plus expenses.

Guillory later claimed he had compensatory time coming even though he was told he was not eligible for vacation. He said the employee who drove his vehicle from Baltimore on work time was attending a conference, though he did not say where the conference was.

He also said he had made Seattle Mayor Charles Royer aware of the potential conflict with the contract to his girlfriend but Guillory later resigned before the official ethics hearing could be held, saying he thought Royer would protect him but instead, turned his back on Guillory.

He later moved back home to Opelousas and in 2002, he was reprimanded by the Louisiana attorney Disciplinary Board for notarizing a succession document for his client, former Opelousas Police Chief Larry Caillier. It turned out there was a minor problem: some of the signatures on the document had apparently been forged.

Guillory admitted he was mistaken in relying on the word of his client that the signatures were valid.

Mistaken? Really? In that case, I have a title to the Atchafalaya Basin I’d like him to notarize.

He also served on the Republican state central committee until 2007, when he ran for and was elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives. Just in time for the election, he coincidentally—or conveniently—switched to the Democratic Party in heavily Democratic St. Landry Parish, explaining that fundamental differences with the Bush administration precipitated his move.

Two years later he was elected to the Senate in a special election to fill an unexpired term. As state senator, Guillory served as Chairman of the Senate Retirement Committee and authored the Senate versions of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s ill-fated sweeping retirement reform bills, all of which eventually either failed in the legislature or were ruled unconstitutional by the courts.

He also raised a few eyebrows earlier this year when he shared his experience with a witch doctor he visited and cited that experience as a bewildering, convoluted defense of the Louisiana Science Education Act, the law that allows creationism to be taught in public school science classrooms through the use of materials that critique evolution.

Guillory explained last May that he would not wish to dismiss faith healing as a pseudoscience because of his encounter with a half-naked witch doctor who used bones in his healing ceremony.

Later that same month, not yet halfway through his first full term in the State Senate as a Democrat, he made the switch back to Republican, becoming the state’s first black Republican legislator since Reconstruction. He explained that he had come to disagree with the direction of the Louisiana Democratic Party. Specifically, he said he took issue with the Democrats’ positions on abortion, the Second Amendment, education and immigration.

Well, guess what? neither the national and Louisiana Democratic parties had altered their positions on those issues since 2007 when he pulled his first switcheroo from Republican to Democrat. So his reasoning for morphing back doesn’t quite pass the smell test.

Then earlier this month, on Dec. 12, 2013, he made the formal announcement that he was a candidate for lieutenant governor because, he said, it provides the best opportunity for him to help more Louisianians.

And of course, The Hayride couldn’t wait to endorse him. http://thehayride.com/2013/12/elbert-guillory-is-running-for-lt-governor-and-he-has-our-endorsement/

His announcement goes a long way in explaining why he suddenly decided he was again a Republican in a lopsidedly crimson state.

Another coincidence? How about political expedience and half-naked, unabashed opportunism?

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The echoes of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s silly, incoherent defense of the Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson had not even died out before the ironic acquittal of former commissioner of the State Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC) Murphy J. Painter stung him with perhaps the most humiliating of several recent courtroom defeats.

And before we delve any further into this sordid mess, let us point out that the media, for the most part, have missed the real story in this entire Robertson GQ interview. While everyone is fixated on his comments about gays, his even more moronic claim that African-Americans were happier before the civil rights movement should have been the lead in every story written about the interview. How a writer claiming to be a professional reporter could have missed that elephant in the room is beyond comprehension.

And though he could not find the time to visit that toxic sinkhole at Bayou Corne in Assumption Parish until many months into the crisis, Jindal was Johnny on the spot with his defense of Robertson and in his condemnation of A&E Network for daring to suspend Robertson for exercising his freedom of speech.

While Jindal may well have a valid point in invoking the First Amendment, it is interesting to reflect on how intolerant the governor is of dissenting opinions within his own administration. Early on, he jettisoned Board of Elementary and Secondary Education member Tammy McDaniel, Louisiana Highway Safety Commission Executive Director Jim Champagne (because Jindal apparently didn’t want to wear a motorcycle helmet on his Hell’s Angels weekend outings—now just try and get the visual of biker Bobby out of your head), Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Ann Williamson and virtually every member of the State Ethics Board (though most left in protest over his gutting of that agency).

In quick order followed Melody Teague for testifying against his government streamlining plans (she eventually was reinstated). Then her husband, Tommy Teague, was booted as head of the Office of Group Benefits for not toeing the company line on privatization (Scott Kipper, his successor, would also leave within weeks).

The firing of the Teagues quickly gave birth to the widespread use of the term “teaguing” as the euphemism for being terminated by Jindal.

Others shown the door included Department of Transportation and Development Secretary William Ankner, Office of Elderly Affairs Executive Director Mary Manuel, LSU System Office General Counsel Raymond Lamonica, LSU President John Lombardi, Secretary of Revenue Cynthia Bridges, LSU Health Care System head Dr. Fred Cerise, and Interim LSU Public Hospital CEO Dr. Roxanne Townsend.

And then there were the demotions from key legislative committee assignments. Removed from their positions for not voting with the administration or for simply asking the wrong questions in committee meetings were State Reps. Jim Morris (R-Oil City), Harold Richie (D-Bogalusa), Joe Harrison (R-Gray) and Cameron Henry (R-Metairie).

And of course, there was the showcase teaguing—the very public firing of Painter by Jindal and subsequent criminal charges after Painter refused to issue an alcohol permit for Champions Square across the street from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.

It just so happens that Champions Square is part of Benson Towers, owned by New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson who, coincidentally, is a huge contributor to Jindal through himself, members of his family and his various business enterprises—in addition to being the landlord for several state offices in Benson Towers at an annual cost of $2.6 million a year more than the state had been paying before moving into Benson Towers. http://louisianavoice.com/2013/02/06/emerging-claims-lawsuits-could-transform-murphy-painter-from-predator-to-all-too-familiar-victim-of-jindal-reprisals/

When Painter rejected the application of Spectacor Management Group (SMG) because of errors in its application for the alcohol permit, SMG arranged a meeting between Painter and SMG attorney Robert Walmsley, Jr., member of a law firm that contributed $5,000 to Jindal.

Apparently, refusal to crater to Benson is a cardinal sin in Louisiana.

Painter was soon contacted by Jindal executive Counsel Stephen Waguespack, nephew of Wiley Waguespack, who had earlier defeated Painter in the Ascension Parish sheriff’s election. Painter said Stephen Waguespack leaned on him to cooperate with SMG and to cease using ATC’s legal counsel to address concerns with the Champions Square project being pushed by SMG.

Waguespack, Painter said, advised that he, as executive counsel for the governor’s office, “saw no problem with issuing the requested license to SMG,” whereupon Painter said he would defer to Waguespack—if Waguespack was willing to issue a legal opinion in writing to the ATC representing the governor’s position.

“The governor’s executive counsel refused and suggested that issuing such an opinion was not a good use of his time and/or position,” Painter says, adding that he understood from that conversation that he “was being ordered to issue the license requested by SMG in direct contravention of law.”

In more than 15 years as ATC commissioner, Painter said he had never received such a call from the governor’s office.

Painter and ATC again refused to issue the requested license and two days later Painter was summoned to the governor’s office on the fourth floor of the State Capitol where he met with Waguespack, Louisiana State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson and Jindal’s then-assistant executive counsel Liz Murrill.

Painter was advised that an unidentified law enforcement agency (later identified as the Office of Inspector General) was investigating him for alleged criminal violations, specifically sexual harassment and that Jindal was asking for his resignation.

When Painter refused to resign he was fired and an official announcement was issued by the governor’s office that he had resigned.

In what Painter described as another means of garnering publicity, an investigator from the Office of Inspector General (OIG) obtained a warrant to search Painter’s office at ATC even though a previous investigation by the Department of Revenue had already cleared Painter of any wrongdoing.

So, after losing major court battles over the funding of school vouchers, pension reform, and the teacher tenure and evaluations section of his education reform, Jindal now has egg all over his face in the highest profile case of teaguing in his beleaguered administration. It was, after all, the only one of the many teagued employees Jindal has actually tried to prosecute in criminal court.

On Friday, December 20, 2013, it all blew up in his face. In baseball terminology, he’s oh-for in the courts.

And don’t think for a moment that because it was a federal trial, the Jindal administration was not behind the indictments and subsequent prosecution from the get-go. All of which makes his sanctimonious outrage over the A&E network’s actions more than just a little hypocritical.

The jury verdict: not guilty on all 29 counts of computer fraud and lying to the FBI.

Sadly, for a governor who entered office with such promise, Jindal’s jumping on the Phil Robertson bandwagon is about all that’s left of his fading political career.

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The Daily Kingfish blog http://dailykingfish.com/tag/superpac/, with an inadvertent assist from the Baton Rouge Advocate, http://theadvocate.com/columnists/6061634-55/around-washington-for-monday-may has given us an interesting angle on the new Super PAC set up on U.S. Sen. David Vitter’s behalf which conceivably could bring him some problems with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC).

LouisianaVoice also has come across an interesting bit of speculation beginning to make its way through the rumor mill that involves a possible Vitter run for governor.

It’s a tangled web that started with a demand by Washington attorney Charles Spies that the Louisiana Board of Ethics should fall in line with the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision that removed the limits that may be contributed to Super PACs.

Spies chairs the Fund for Louisiana (FFL), the Super PAC set up to help Vitter with either a run for governor in 2015 or for re-election to the Senate in 2016.

Spies, also co-founder of Restore Our Future PAC for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, said in his filing with the Louisiana ethics board that if the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion abolishing the contributions to Super PACs is not granted and it is later determined by the courts that the state’s $100,000 limit “impermissibly infringe on constitutional rights, Fund for Louisiana’s Future will have suffered irreparable harm” and that “FFL’s political speech—and the political speech of others like it—is being burdened and chilled.”

But The Daily Kingfish noted that while Spies is the mover and shaker behind the effort to remove the state’s contribution cap, the Louisiana address for FFL is 6048 Marshall Foch Street in the Lakeview area of New Orleans.

That’s the address at the bottom of FFL’s web page and it just happens to be the home of Bill Callihan, a director at Capital One Bank.

Okay, nothing wrong with this picture so far.

Vitter is prohibited by federal election rules from coordinating for the Super PAC and does not personally participate in fundraising activities.

Again, nothing wrong so far.

FFL has scheduled its Louisiana Bayou Weekend for Sept. 5-7, 2014 with Vitter as “special guest.” Invitees will have the opportunity to participate in Cajun cooking, an airboat swamp tour and an alligator hunt.

While Vitter can appear at the Super PAC event, he is prohibited from soliciting contributions.

And this is where the picture becomes somewhat muddled.

Courtney Guastella Callihan—Callihan’s wife—is listed on invitations as the contact person for the Bayou Weekend.

She also served as Vitter’s campaign financial director, a dual role that blurs the distinction between her function with the Super PAC and Vitter’s Senate campaign.

Citizens United legalized independent groups raising unlimited funds but it did not legalize politicians establishing dummy organizations to evade campaign finance laws.

So the question now becomes is Courtney Callihan on the payroll of both Vitter’s Senate campaign committee and FFL?

If so, that could conceivably bring real legal problems with the FEC.

Now, having said all that, here is a real zinger we came across in the rumor mill. Mind you, everything is speculation at this point, but the report appears to have a certain validity that warrants a mention here.

Even if it proves to be untrue, it’s still interesting to speculate.

It is no secret that Jindal and Vitter are not the best of friends. Jindal even refused to endorse Vitter in his re-election campaign three years ago even though Vitter, in an apparent effort to be the better man (that being a relative term), did endorse Jindal for re-election the following year.

But it is also true that politics makes for strange bedfellows and this would rate right up there with the most bizarre of them all.

Should Vitter be elected governor in 2015, he would take office in January of 2016 with still a year left on his Senate term.

He would have to vacate his Senate seat, of course, and as governor would name his successor.

Sources say that the two have buried the hatchet and talk already has Jindal moving into the Senate office for the duration of Vitter’s term, thus providing him a stepping stone, so to speak, for his anticipated longshot run for the GOP presidential nomination. (should we have bold-faced, capitalized, underlined and italicized longshot?)

Of course, if Public Service Commissioner and former Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources Scott Angelle should run, that in turn would create a dilemma for Jindal. Would he throw his Protégé under the bus for a shot at a U.S. Senate seat?

Stranger things—including outlandish political marriages—do occur in politics (see JFK/LBJ, 1960).

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Washington attorney/political fundraiser Charlie Spies wants to make it even easier for those with the financial resources to continue to buy elections in Louisiana to the increasing detriment of the rest of us.

So what else is new?

Spies, chairman of The Fund for Louisiana’s Future (FLF), the Super Pac created earlier this year, says Louisiana should voluntarily remove the $100,000 limit on contributions to political action committees.

As if it weren’t difficult enough already for the average voter to make his voice heard in our legislative halls.

Spies, it should be noted, also served as chairman for the Restore Our Future PAC for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

While the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in its 2010 Citizens United decision that third-party groups may spend unlimited amounts on political campaigns, Louisiana still has a maximum cap on individual contributions to PACs of $100,000 per election cycle.

Spies, with an eye to bankrolling the 2015 governor’s race on behalf of an as-yet unnamed candidate (but most probably U.S. Sen. David Vitter),  has written a letter to the Louisiana Board of Ethics asking the state to conform with what he calls “clear constitutional precedent.”

To quote our friend and Livingston Parish Poet Laureate Billy Wayne Shakespeare, “A skunk by any other name stinks just as bad.”

What Spies and all those PACs that have proliferated since the 2010 Citizens United decision really want is the unfettered ability to buy future elections in Louisiana on a scale unprecedented in the state’s history. That would include not only the governor’s election but in all likelihood other statewide races and key legislative contests as well.

In his letter to the ethics board, Spies said that such limits on political committees that make independent expenditures run afoul of the First Amendment “are unconstitutional on their face and should no longer be enforced by the board.”

He said FLF could suffer “irreparable harm” if the issue is litigated and courts subsequently find that the limits infringe on constitutional rights. He said FLF and others’ political speech is being “burdened and chilled.”

What he doesn’t seem to realize is that in Louisiana, raising the limit isn’t really necessary: Louisiana politicians have historically sold out on the cheap.

In his otherwise persuasive argument (lawyers love to wax eloquent and I like saying that), Spies conveniently ignored how ordinary citizens have their political speech “burdened and chilled” by the ability of super PACs to drown out the voices of the electorate.

A person who gives his hard-earned $50 contribution to a candidate should be heard just as easily as the big donor after the election. But when that person’s interests clash with those of a super PAC that poured $100,000 into the candidate’s campaign, who do you think will get the ear of that elected official?

It’s not as if the $100,000 cap is really enforced in Louisiana. Nor for that matter is the $5,000 on individual contributions particularly sacred. Take Lee Mallett of Iowa, Louisiana, for example. Mallett, a member of the LSU Board of Stuporvisors, has contributed nearly $160,000 to Gov. Bobby Jindal through personal contributions and those of seven of his corporations. And both he and his son each have made four contributions between them, each for the maximum allowable amount of $30,800 to the Republican National Committee. Other LSU board members contribute personally and through spouses, children and their companies to easily circumvent the $5,000 contribution limit.

FLF has already raised more than $700,000, thanks in large part to separate $100,000 contributions by the Chouest family-owned Galliano Marine Services and the Van Meter family-controlled GMAA, LLC. Both families were major contributors to Jindal campaigns.

Here are a few examples of contributions to Gov. Bobby Jindal by the Chouest family and corporations of Galliano since 2003:

  • Chouest Offshore: $5,000;
  • Carol Chouest: $5,000;
  • Damon Chouest: $5,000;
  • Ross Chouest: $7,500;
  • Andrea Chouest: $5,000;
  • Casey Chouest: $5,000;
  • Dionne Chouest: $5,000;
  • Dino Chouest: $5,000;
  • Joan Chouest: $5,000;
  • Carolyn Chouest: $5,000;
  • Gary Chouest: $5,000;
  • Chouest Offshore Services: $5,000;
  • Gary Chouest: $5,000;
  • C-Port: $5,000;
  • C-Port 2: $5,000;
  • Offshore Support Services: $5,000;
  • Martin Holdings: $5,000;
  • Martin Energy Offshore: $5,000;
  • Galliano Marine Services: $5,000;
  • Alpha Marine Service: $5,000;
  • Beta Marine Services: $5,000;
  • Vessel Management: $10,000.

Grand total: $117,500.

Things were only slightly less obscene for the Bollinger family of Lockport and its corporations:

  • Chris Bollinger: $5,000;
  • Bollinger Algiers: $10,000;
  • Bollinger Gretna: $5,000;
  • Bollinger Shipyards: $9,850;
  • Bollinger Calcasieu: $5,000;
  • Charlotte Bollinger: $12,000;
  • Bollinger Fourchon: $5,000;
  • Bollinger LaRose: $6,000;
  • Bollinger Morgan City: $6,000;
  • Donald Bollinger: $1,500;
  • Andrea Bollinger: $1,500;
  • Southern Selections: $1,000;
  • Gulf Crane Services: $4,000;
  • Ocean Marine Contractors: $500.

Grand total: $73,350.

And that doesn’t even include money contributed to Jindal’s wife’s foundation, the Supriya Jindal Foundation for Louisiana’s Children or to Jindal’s Believe in Louisiana nonprofit organization which in reality is a PAC that exists solely for political fundraising.

Nor does it include any other candidates, legislative or congressional, to whom these families—the Malletts, the Chouests and the Bollingers—and their corporate entities may have contributed.

What does all this mean to the average voter?

Quite simply, it means he cannot compete with that kind of money. Period. He does not enjoy the luxury of voting for the candidate of his choice—because he doesn’t have a choice. He really never did.

It is the rare candidate today who can eschew PAC money and win.

The glut of money being poured into PACs is used to buy slick mailers and expensive TV time which tend to drown out the voices of the lesser-financed candidates. Catch the disclaimer at the end of those TV ads or read those mailers closely to see pays for them. The billionaire Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity, for example, pays for all those Mary Landrieu-bashing ads you see on TV these days. Landrieu’s performance, good or bad, is not really the issue; it’s repetition of negativity that counts and only money can buy that.

Even though you may think you are an informed voter, you are so inundated with propaganda from PAC money that your will to resist political rhetoric is beaten down and you end up believing in their candidate because you saw more TV ads saying he was the one who is best qualified to lead the state or nation.

The PAC money drowns out the other candidate who may have great ideas for solving political problems but who can never be heard above the white noise enabled by Citizens United because his campaign war chest is dwarfed by that of the Super PAC.

But it doesn’t matter if he is the better candidate because the money says it doesn’t. PACs long ago purchased the candidates and have since purchased Congress and now Spies and his ilk want to purchase Louisiana (and yes, we know that may be redundant).

To put it in simple mathematical terms that are easy to comprehend, let us say a Super PAC dumps $100,000 into to a candidate’s campaign on behalf of say, the credit card special interests. You happen to like that same candidate so you stretch your financial resources to give him $50.

Long after the election and well after the congressman is ensconced in office, a bill comes up that prohibits credit card companies from charging monthly fees on gift cards, thereby diminishing the value of the cards. As it happens, you received a $100 gift card for your birthday but didn’t get around to using it for a few months. Remember your surprise when you learned it no longer had a value of $100 because of the monthly fees you were charged unbeknownst to you?

Irate, you write your congressman, urging him to support the bill that favors consumers. You may even remind him of your $50 contribution.

But congressmen are busy people. Under the present system, they’re already running for re-election the moment they begin their terms. That Super PAC, remember, gave him $100,000 on behalf of the credit card company. Who do you think gets his ear on this? In this case, the odds are 2,000-1 in favor of Visa.

And that’s the goal of Charlie Spies and The Fund for Louisiana’s Future.

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