Archive for the ‘Campaign Contributions’ Category

Just when you think Bobby Jindal is AWOL, we learn that he’s still on the job.

Sort of.

Jindal recently went off on the father of Umpqua Community College shooter Chris Harper Mercer’s father for being an “absentee dad” in yet another of his futile attempts to bring attention to his faltering president campaign.

Never mind that as governor, he is something of a titular head of     a family of 4.6 million souls but has been an “absentee dad” for much of his term while he pursues his own selfish interests, leaving us to our own devices.

But hey, it’s good to know that he’s not too busy to see to the needs of his favorite contributors children.

Take his latest scam plan, for example. Last month Jindal announced that he wanted to rip surplus money from the $700 million in coastal restoration funds from the BP Deepwater Horizon spill settlement to use on the $350 million LA. 1 project.

While there is no prohibition against the use of coastal restoration funds on infrastructure, it is something that has never been done in the 10-year history of the Louisiana Coastal Authority prior to Jindal’s latest brainstorm.

Two gubernatorial candidates, Democrat John Bel Edwards and Republican Jay Dardenne are opposed to the idea while Republican Scott Angelle declined to state a position for or against while Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter typically did not respond to an inquiry by the New Orleans Times-Picayune. http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2015/10/louisiana_gubernatorial_coasta.html#incart_river

LA. 1 runs from the Arkansas line in Bossier Parish to Grand Isle but more importantly, it runs right past a couple of dozen businesses enterprises owned and operated by the mega-wealthy Chouest family of Lafourche Parish. Improvements to LA. 1 would necessarily enhance the bottom line of those businesses which are concentrated primarily in the shipbuilding industry.

Don’t buy into our skepticism? Well, consider this. Barely a year into his first term of office, Jindal announced that the state would invest $10 million into the Port of Terrebonne to accommodate LaShip, an Edison Chouest company. http://www.bestofneworleans.com/gambit/deep-pockets/Content?oid=1255831

At the time of Jindal’s announcement, the Chouest family and affiliated businesses had coughed up $85,000 to Jindal’s campaigns to that point. Since then, an additional $45,000 has found its way from the Chouest family and businesses into Jindal’s campaign coffers.

Last year, Jindal pulled $4.5 million from the developmentally disadvantaged and gave it to Laney Chouest for repairs to his $75 million Indy racetrack. The inaugural—and last Indy race was held last spring and was an unqualified bust that resulted in litigation filed by race sponsors.

So, weren’t the $10 million for the Port of Terrebonne and the $4.5 million for a one and done racetrack sufficient payback for $130,000 in contributions?

Well, perhaps, but consider this:

Boatbuilder Gary Chouest in July contributed a cool $1 million to Bobby’s Believe Again super PAC.

So while Jindal blithely allows the state’s fiscal condition to metastasize from neglect, abuse and absenteeism, it’s good to know that he’s looking out for the welfare of his favorite children.

It’s refreshing to know that while he parties in Iowa, protected by taxpayer-funded state police security, he has not forgotten those who have been good to him. The Chouest family should be so proud of their sugar daddy.

In real estate, the three most important words are location, location, location.

In politics, the three most important phrases are follow the money, follow the money, follow the money.

It’s also important to understand that no political contribution is ever given without an ulterior motive. People don’t throw money away for high ideals; they invest in a big payoff down the road.

Whether it’s a port improvement project, a racetrack or a $350 million improvement project for a major highway that runs by its myriad businesses, a million dollars isn’t tossed around lightly.

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With all that’s going on with the Louisiana State Police, it has become easy to overlook the fact that we will be voting in a little more than two weeks for someone to try to undo the damage done by eight years of the Jindal carnage inflicted upon this state. (Don’t worry, we’ll get back to the State Police in a day or so.)

The governor’s race, unlike those of past years, has failed to generate a lot of interest among voters. That’s probably because the media has convinced us that U.S. Sen. David Vitter is a lock to be our next governor. I mean, who could possibly get excited over an election when we’re being told that it’s inevitable that the pariah of femininity will be our next governor?

Speaking of the media, the questions posed in the televised debates thus far have been nothing short of disgraceful. It’s no wonder that people are turned off by this year’s election. How, after all, does Kim Davis even begin to figure in the issues facing Louisiana’s next governor? That question was just plain stupid and a huge waste of time.

And who put the media in charge of anointing winners even before an election? Do our votes actually count anymore? (We will be addressing those questions shortly.)

First of all, what self-respecting Republican woman in Louisiana would ever cast a vote for someone like Dave Vitter? For that matter, what Republican woman would ever allow her husband to vote for this man who has only contempt for women as exhibited by the fact that:

  • He frequented prostitutes in Washington, D.C. and New Orleans;
  • He kept an aide, Brent Furer, on his payroll for more than a year after Furer held his ex-girlfriend hostage, threatened to kill her and in fact, attacked her with a knife. Vitter denied Furer was assigned to women’s issues. Furer’s title? Legislative Assistant on Women’s Issues.
  • He voted a year ago to block the Paycheck Fairness Act despite the fact that Louisiana ranks second-worst in the nation in gender pay disparity.

We say Republican women only because we feel it’s a foregone conclusion no Democrat woman would ever vote for this man who continues to refuse to address his personal and public issues with women.

But all that aside, let’s look at the real reason that Vitter is considered a favorite to make the runoff against Democrat John Bel Edwards.

Money. Lots of money.

And that brings us to the questions we posed earlier: Who anoints the winners and do our votes really count?

First of all, a super PAC is established for his benefit. Super PACs are the scourge of the democratic process, folks. End of discussion. And his Super PAC, ironically dubbed The Fund for Louisiana’s Future in what must have been someone’s idea of a cruel joke, had more than $3 million on hand at the end of 2014. And that doesn’t even count the money he has raised directly in corporate and special interest contributions.

The very existence of the Super PAC teetered on the edge of legality and was approved only after a court fight. Super PACs are barred from coordinating with candidates’ campaigns but if you believe Vitter has not involved himself in the decision-making process of The Fund for Louisiana’s Future, I’ve got some beautiful beachfront property near that Bayou Corne sinkhole in Assumption Parish for sale really cheap.

If you trust Vitter even for a nano-second, I’ve got a straitjacket in just your size.

His Super PAC aside, Vitter has another $4 million on hand as we head into the final stretch for the first primary on Oct. 24. As anyone not in a coma must surely know, The Fund for Louisiana’s Future has already initiated a media blitz attacking Vitter’s two Republican opponents, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle on the assumption that he must eliminate them to get into the runoff. He apparently is holding off on attacking State Rep. John Bel Edwards until the second primary.

Compare that to $1.6 million for Darden who has yet to crank up his TV ad campaign, $1.4 million for Edwards, and $1 million for Angelle.

Far more telling, however, is an examination of who contributes and where those contributions are coming from.

For that, we pulled only the contributions of those giving the maximum allowable $5,000. To go deeper would have just taken far too much space.

Before we begin our look into the contributions, ask yourself this question: If you give $100 or even $250 to a candidate and he is elected and down the road your interests conflict with a donor who coughed up the $5,000 maximum, who do you think will get the politician’s ear? What chance would you have in such a scenario? We thought so.

This is not a hypothetical, folks. This is real. It’s not Monopoly money. It’s money poured into campaigns by special interests who have a reason for parting with their money—and the reason is not their hunger for good, honest government that motivates them.

Remember that if you remember nothing else when you walk into that voting booth on Oct. 24.

You are a moving part in a very large machine that is being lubricated with cash in order to turn out legislation that benefits any number of special interests, none of whom even knows who you are. When you exit the voting booth, that big money has no more use for your services—until the next election cycle.

Cold? Callused? Jaded? Yes, yes, and yes. But we at LouisianaVoice are pragmatists, not idealists. We as a society do not pledge allegiance to the flag; we pledge allegiance to the oil companies, the banks, Wall Street, and major contractors. Sorry if we burst anyone’s bubble, but facts are facts, unpleasant though they may well be. Here’s another little factoid: the Pledge of Allegiance was written by a socialist. Chew on that for a while, tea partiers.

Looking just at $5,000 contributions, we find that Vitter had 970 donors putting up the maximum, or $4.85 million. That’s a huge—very huge—chunk of his total contributions. Of that 970, there were 164 (17 percent) from out of state. That’s $820,000—more than the total of all the $5,000 contributions to Edwards and only $30,000 less than those of Dardenne.

Angelle barely had a third as many $5,000 contributors (340 for $1.7 million). Of those 340, no fewer than 81 (24 percent) were from out of state. Like Vitter, the $5,000 contributors made up a sizable block of his total campaign contributions. Where does that leave the $5, $10 and $20 contributors in the overall scheme of things?

From those figures, the numbers dropped precipitously for Dardenne and Edwards. Dardenne received 170 contributions of $5,000 each for a total of $850,000, about half of his total contributions, according to records obtained from the State Ethics Commission. Sixteen, or 9.4 percent, were from out of state.

Edwards recently issued a press release touting the low number of out-of-state contributors to his campaign. Records show that he received 114 contributions of $5,000 each for a total of $570,000. Only three of those, or 2.6 percent, were from out-of-state, in his case, all three from Texas.

This is an important election and Louisiana citizens need to get up off the couch, put down that bag of chips and forget about football for the few minutes that it takes to act on this state’s future.

No matter who wins, it is going to be difficult, if not impossible, to get this state back on the course of recovery after eight years of neglect, abuse, and outright corruption. The new governor is going to inherit a massive deficit, all manner of problems from higher education and public education, the state hospital privatization mess, a world-leading incarceration rate, corporate welfare (Stephen Waguespack’s protestations notwithstanding), and one of the highest poverty rates in the country, to name but a few.

So here is one last question to ask yourself before you enter that voting booth:

Do you vote for the candidate who had the most money to saturate the television airwaves with ads containing half-truths and outright lies, a candidate who is bought and paid for by Wall Street, the pharmaceutical firms, big oil, the major banks and similar special interests or do you vote for the candidate who you truly feel will devote his efforts to addressing the state’s problems head-on?

The state’s future dos not belong to The Fund for Louisiana’s Future. That vote-buying Super PAC is not even in Louisiana; it’s in Washington, D.C.

The state’s future instead belongs to you.

The choice is yours.

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Many of our stories come to us by way of tips from readers. Sometimes they identify themselves but most of the time they’re anonymous because our sources often are state employees and they don’t want to be teagued.

Occasionally, the readers even provide us with copies of public records. If not, we make requests of the appropriate agencies for documents that will verify the story. The Division of Administration more often than not either ignores our requests or drags out compliance with the public records laws for weeks or even months.

Lately, the Louisiana Department of Public Safety has found a way to deny us access to records by claiming ongoing investigations and thus, justifying not releasing documents. But in most of those cases, we already have the records from our anonymous sources who pulled the records prior to their becoming part of an “ongoing investigation.” One vocal critic, writing under a fake name (we know who he is) even claimed we were breaking the law by having those records in our possession. Not so.

More recently, we have been the beneficiary of another source for a rather pathetic, but nevertheless amusing running story—Bobby Jindal’s desperate quest for the Republican presidential nomination.

The source is none other than Jindal himself.

Sometimes it’s by sheer luck that we stumble into some of our stories. We’re certain that Jindal and/or his people never intended that we be included in his email updates but somehow we got on his mail list and we get updates on his campaign every day. Sometimes we get two or three such updates in a single day.

Last night, following the debates (the kiddie table and the grown-up debates, though at times it was difficult to tell which was which), we received not one, not two, but three updates, each one proclaiming Jindal (kiddie table) all but nominated, elected and inaugurated.

In two of those, the first from Jindal and the second from wife Supriya, the message was the same: “The deck has been reshuffled.”

That prompted an observation from a friend who said, “Yes, this debate did reshuffle the deck. Unfortunately for Jindal, a joker is a joker no matter how many times the deck is reshuffled.”

Having said that, we now would like to show you some of the recent emails from Jindal camp members, including campaign manager Timmy Teepell, communications director Kyle Plotkin (You have to love his references to Jindal as “the Gov”), deputy campaign manager Tim Saler, Bobby and Supriya Jindal. This list is not all-inclusive because it would be too long but it is indicative of the delusions of mediocracy that seem to permeate Team Jindal. We pick up the dialogue on Aug. 21 and carry it through Thursday morning(Sept. 17). Of course, like any good televangelist, there is the perpetual request for money at the end. Here we go:
From: Kyle, BobbyJindal.com [mailto:info@bobbyjindalhq.com]

Sent: Friday, August 21, 2015 5:26 PM

To: Tom Aswell

Subject: Fired Up

Governor Jindal just got off the stage at AFP’s Defending the American Dream Summit, and wow, the Gov (sic) crushed it. Check out this video I filmed a couple minutes after he finished speaking: People were so inspired by his message, they kept running up to the stage to try to shake the Gov’s hand. We are in the car headed to catch a flight to Iowa. Can you chip in $50 right now so we can capitalize on this momentum? It would be awesome to turn my phone on when we land in Iowa and be able to tell the Gov we just raised a lot of money. Thanks, Kyle Plotkin Communications Director, Jindal for President


From: Bobby Jindal – iPad [mailto:info@bobbyjindalhq.com]

Sent: Tuesday, August 25, 2015 3:38 PM

To: Tom Aswell

Subject: Our first ad

We just released a new ad in Iowa that shows footage of my exchange with pro-amnesty protesters who tried to silence my speech at the Iowa State Fair with shouts of “citizenship now.” I confronted the protesters with hard truths: “If you want freedom, if you love America — follow the law, learn English, adopt our values and get to work!” You can watch the new ad here: https://www.bobbyjindal.com/new-jindal-ad-follow-the-law/ The ad will be targeted online to voters across Iowa for the next week. Can you chip in $25 right now so we can keep it running and make sure more people see it? Thanks, Bobby

From: Bobby Jindal – iPad [mailto:info@bobbyjindalhq.com]

Sent: Sunday, August 30, 2015 4:40 PM

To: Tom Aswell

Subject: Thank you

I am in the car headed to the airport to fly back to Iowa. I wanted to say thank you. The last few months campaigning have been inspiring. I wish we could bottle up the energy and passion we see everyday at events so you could experience it for yourself. I’m very grateful for the support you have given me so far. But campaigning for President is expensive, so I’m asking you to double down and make a donation as we approach our end of month fundraising deadline. Thank you, Bobby


From: Tim Saler – BobbyJindal.com [mailto:info@bobbyjindalhq.com]

Sent: Tuesday, September 08, 2015 1:02 PM

To: Tom Aswell

Subject: We all knew

Winning the Iowa Caucus has never been about money, looks, or media attention. The Iowa Caucus is all about grassroots campaigning. That is why we always knew that Gov. Jindal would do well there. He loves talking with voters one on one. Thanks to the support of people like you, we are seeing this come to fruition in the polls. The latest NBC Marist Poll has Gov. Jindal rising in the polls in Iowa again – currently tied with Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. This is great news for the campaign, but we still have a long way to go. Will you help us continue this momentum with a donation? Gov. Jindal has been adamant about using your donations for actual campaign activities – no meals out with campaign staff. Your donation will go directly into the field, and directly towards winning Iowa. Please make your contribution today. Thank you. Tim Saler Deputy Campaign Manager, Jindal for President
From: Bobby Jindal [mailto:info@bobbyjindalhq.com]

Sent: Saturday, September 12, 2015 10:01 AM

To: Tom Aswell

Subject: Weekend reading

Everyday (sic) on the campaign trail, I get great questions from voters — one I get a lot is what I’d do if I were elected President. That’s an easy question because while other candidates spent the last few years looking at polling and hiring consultants, I spent my time thinking about what the next President needs to do to get our country back on track and developed detailed policy plans built on conservative principles. So far, I released my plans on repealing Obamacare, fixing our broken education system, harnessing American energy, and rebuilding our national defense. All the plans are available on my website for you to read. When you are running for elected office, it’s easy to say you are for something. Every Republican running says they are for smaller government. But of all the candidates running, I am the only one that has actually cut government spending. It drives the big-government crowd in Louisiana crazy, but I have governed and kept my conservative principles intact. I’m proud of that. I hope you have a great weekend. Bobby

From: Bobby Jindal [mailto:info@bobbyjindalhq.com]

Sent: Tuesday, September 15, 2015 6:30 PM

To: Tom Aswell

Subject: Tomorrow night

I just landed in California for tomorrow night’s Republican Presidential debate. I’m fired up. I hope you will tune in to CNN at 6 p.m. eastern to watch. If you are excited for tomorrow night too, chip in $20.16 right now to let me know. Bobby

From: Bobby Jindal – iPad [mailto:info@bobbyjindalhq.com]

Sent: Wednesday, September 16, 2015 7:03 PM

To: Tom Aswell

Subject: Just got off stage at debate

I just left the stage at the Reagan Foundation for today’s debate. If we learned anything from the previous debate, it’s that these events reshuffle the deck. Tonight’s debate was no exception. Sure, I talked about policy and substance. I talked about my record as the only Governor running for President who has actually cut spending. If you think that’s the kind of leadership we need from our next President, then make a special contribution of $20.16 now. But I also talked about how important this election is for our future. This may be our last chance to save the American Dream, and we can’t afford to turn our hopes over to Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. That’s why I need your help to make sure I am on the main debate stage at next month’s debate. The pundits and analysts have declared I won tonight, and it is critical we keep the momentum going. Stand with me and make a contribution of $15, $10, or even $5 right now so our campaign has the resources we need to make sure I am in the next primetime debate. The campaign continues. The deck has been reshuffled. And we’re fighting our way up. Join us today. Bobby



From: Timmy, BobbyJindal.com [mailto:info@bobbyjindalhq.com]

Sent: Wednesday, September 16, 2015 8:23 PM

To: Tom Aswell

Subject: Jindal wins debate, neutered Republican establishment

In tonight’s debate, Governor Jindal neutered the Republican establishment in D.C. The Republican establishment in D.C. is the surrender caucus. They backed down on repealing Obamacare, stopping a dangerous Iran deal, and defunding Planned Parenthood. Republican voters are angry at Republicans in D.C. and they should be. It’s time for us to fight for what we believe in. Donate $20.16 right now to stand with Governor Jindal. Thank you, Timmy Teepell Campaign Manager, Jindal for President



From: Supriya Jindal [mailto:info@bobbyjindalhq.com]

Sent: Thursday, September 17, 2015 7:24 AM

To: Tom Aswell

Subject: Bobby did great!! FW: Just got off stage at debate


This is Supriya. Did you watch last night’s debate? Bobby did great! He’s right – the deck has been reshuffled again. We’re on our way up. Don’t you want to be a part of it? Make an instant donation right now to join our cause >>> $20.16 This is such an exciting time in the campaign. Bobby is off to Iowa later this week, and I’m looking forward to joining him again on the trail soon. I know we can count on you! -Supriya

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For a time, when Bobby Jindal or some other nut case Republican like Todd Akin opened their mouths, each utterance was more outlandish, more implausible than the last.

No more.

Even with Donald Trump, it appears we have reached a saturation point in absurdity with their inane rhetoric that plays to their constituency but does nothing to solve real problems. I mean, a wall constructed along our southern border? Seriously, Donald? When we have crumbling infrastructure (as already pointed out by Goldie Taylor, writing for http://bluenationreview.com/u-s-bridges-and-roads-are-failing-but-trump-wants-to-build-you-a-great-wall/), you want to build a wall?

It was kind of funny when Dan Quayle had a student add an “e” onto potato back in 1992. Reporters had a field day with that. Even though he was the incumbent vice-president under Bush, they lost that election to Clinton-Gore. The student, William Figueroa, then 12, spoke with wisdom beyond his years when he later commented that rumors that Quayle was an idiot were true.

Then there was that inconceivable claim by Todd Akin, the Republican running unsuccessfully for the Senate in Missouri back in 2012. Akin actually went on record as saying women who are raped cannot become pregnant. The full quote: “From what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

He was defending his anti-abortion position and while there are those who hold to the belief that life is sacred, that has to be one of the strangest defenses of a religious tenet on record. (There are some who, weighing the GOP’s general antipathy toward helping those less fortunate, say that Republicans believe life begins at conception and ends at birth.) Akin was ahead in the polls at the time he made his ill-fated observation but that gaffe cost him the election.

But for the most consistent blathering of pure banal nonsense while on the campaign trail to oblivion, you have to hand the trophy to Bobby Jindal. No one does it better. The man obviously has never learned to heed the sage advice that when you find yourself in a hole, quit digging.

From his European “no-go” zones to his letter to President Obama in which he attempted to press Obama to delete any mention of global warming in his upcoming New Orleans speech to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Jindal has been a most unfunny joke.

He has even gone so far as to criticize the use of private emails by Hillary Clinton while requiring his staff to use private email accounts and even passing a law that closed off any semblance of transparency for his office. Granted, U.S. State Department classified emails are a tad more serious than those of a governor but perhaps Jindal would’ve been wise to let that one slide.

Let’s face it, folks, he makes Quayle look like a towering intellect, Trump like the epitome of reason, Hillary like a paragon of honesty, and Akin like….well, never mind. We really don’t have a comparison for that one other than to observe that Jindal pleads ignorance on the subject of evolution because he is “not a scientist,” despite holding a biology degree from Ivy League Brown University that says he is.

On the one hand, Jindal tells us he hid in a closet with a flashlight to read his Bible while in high school so his parents would not know of his conversion from Hindu to Christianity. On the other, he tells his adoring audiences in Iowa, “One of the things my dad told me every day was, ‘You should thank God every day you were born in America.’”

So, Bobby, if that’s the case, why didn’t you just come out of the closet?

If we didn’t know better, we might well believe the entire presidential campaign for both parties is being scripted by Mel Brooks. And who knows? Maybe all we need to round out the race is Gov. William J. Le Petomane.

One thing about Bobby Jindal, though. When he gets on one of his asinine rhetorical crusades, you couldn’t drag him off with a team of Budweiser Clydesdales. Our hyphenated-governor (as in part-time hyphenated) wants to eliminate hyphenated-Americans. “We’re not Indian-Americans or African-Americans or Asian-Americans,” he insists. “We’re all Americans.”

Well, Bobby, all those Indian-Americans who poured cash into your gubernatorial campaigns in the fervent hope that you would be their voice have turned their backs on you because you walked away from them first. You have alienated an entire bloc of voters and they’re not without influence—or money. But their campaign money has dried up for you. Like it or not, they are were your identity. But you lost your 2003 race for governor because the good Protestants of north Louisiana wouldn’t vote for you because of your dark skin and that, admittedly, was a poor reason. So your solution was to whiten your image right down to your official portrait hanging in your office and in the Old State Capitol and preaching the white gospel of smug superiority.

Now you’re running around hitting all 99 Iowa counties saying things like, “Immigration without assimilation is invasion” and “We’re not a melting pot anymore.” You say immigrants should “learn English, adopt our values, roll up your sleeves and get to work.”

That last part would fall under your definition of “American Exceptionalism,” I suppose. That would be where we embrace such idealistic values as instigating the war with Mexico so we could grab South Texas and herd Native Americans onto barren reservations in the name of Manifest Destiny. Or maybe it was the provoking of the Spanish-American War or the manufacturing of the Gulf of Tonkin Incident so as to give us a reason to plunge full-bore into a civil war in Vietnam where we had no business being and where we sacrificed 58,000 American lives and millions of Vietnamese lives.

And speaking of Vietnam, our friend and fellow Ruston native, retired newspaper editor Bill Brown posed an interesting question on Facebook today: Why is it, he asks, that the same people who wanted so badly to send draft resisters to prison for breaking the law during the Vietnam war now want to defend a Kentucky clerk of court for defying the law?

Perhaps Jindal’s idea of “American Exceptionalism” extends to the quagmire we’ve gotten ourselves into in the Middle East. Refresh me: whose side are we on this week? I support our military but I can’t support the politicians who send young men and women into conflict to die for oil and Haliburton. That’s not my definition of patriotism. And when the wounded return, they’re discarded like last week’s newspapers. Don’t believe that? Google the problems and delays in obtaining care for wounded veterans at VA hospitals.

American Exceptionalism is just another term for tunnel vision or blind, unquestioning faith in the motives and morals of our elected officials who buy their way into office on the bankrolls of corporate interests, defense contractors, Wall Street and lobbyists while doing everything possible to destroy labor unions and social services. American Exceptionalism is spending enough on the trouble-plagued F-35 fighter jet to have purchased a $600,000 house for every homeless American or to send thousands of low-income kids to Harvard. American Exceptionalism is screaming to the mountain tops about socialized health care when the real problem is socialized wealth care.

As for Jindal’s admonition to immigrants to adhere to the other two conditions—“learn English” and “roll up your sleeves and get to work,” consider this:

Perhaps, in applying those principles across the board, we should all be speaking Iroquois, Apache, Comanche, Cree, Sioux and other native tongues while hunting bison and making birch bark canoes and respecting the land and our natural resources.


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While the candidates for governor try to turn our eyes away from the circus in Iowa long enough to make their case of why they should be chosen to clean up the Bobby Jindal mess, there is another statewide race that is quietly flying under the radar which deserves our attention.

If ever there was a case to be made for prohibiting campaign contributions from industries and individuals the candidates would be regulating once in office, it would have be with the races for Louisiana Insurance Commissioner, Public Service Commission, and Louisiana Attorney General. An examination of contributions to candidates for those offices stands as the poster child for campaign reform.

Matt Parker is trying to change that. The Monroe native owns and operates an auto body shop and it his experience with insurance companies through his business that has led him to defy all political odds and run against incumbent Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon. http://mattparkerforlouisiana.com/

The single biggest black mark against Parker’s name is that he was an All-State football player at Neville High School in Monroe. Being an alumnus of district rival Ruston High (Magna Cum Barely, class of 1961), long a bridesmaid to the stellar football program of Neville, first under Bill Ruple and later Charles Brown, I find that to be a tough personal negative for Parker to overcome.

His entry into the cesspool of Louisiana politics stems from major problems independent body shops were having and continue to have with auto insurance companies. http://louisianavoice.com/2014/05/07/unlike-a-good-neighbor-state-farm-may-be-undermining-choice-of-auto-repair-shops-same-for-the-good-hands-folks/

Insurance claims departments were said to have had this nasty habit of steering claimants to shops of their own choosing, shops the complainants said that that while cheaper, were turning out inferior work and using sub-par after-market parts. This, said the shops being shut out, was endangering the lives of the motoring public.

The merits or qualifications of Parker are not up for discussion here. What is open for examination, however, is the list of campaign contributors for each of the two candidates. (A third candidate, Baton Rouge attorney Charlotte McDaniel McGehee, a Democrat, has just announced as a candidate but there are not campaign contributions records available for her as yet.)

Both Donelon and Parker are Republicans but you’d never know that from the campaign finance reports of the two candidates.

Donelon’s report is dominated by big money flowing into his campaign from insurance companies and individuals in the industry. No fewer than 75 such companies and individuals from out of state contributed nearly $130,000 to Donelon. That’s $50,000 more than all of Parker’s campaign contributions combined.

In all, Donelon has attracted about half-a-million dollars since January of 2014 while Parker has pulled in $76,800 total.

Sixteen Donelon contributors kicked in $5,000 each, exactly half of those from other states. Thirteen were from the insurance and banking industries.

One of those, Michael Karfunkel of New York City, is a co-founder, along with his brother, of AmTrust, described by the Southern Investigative Reporting Foundation (SIRF) as “a high-flying insurance company.” SIRF found that while Michael Karfunkel and brother George were active grant-makers to synagogues and institutions linked to Brooklyn’s Haredi Judaism community, they reaped huge benefits from using their foundations to maintain family control of AmTrust.

Several years of IRS Form 990s, the annual report for tax-exempt foundations, showed that the Karfunkel brothers funneled AmTrust stock into their foundations in violation of IRS rules governing “excess business holdings.”

Basically, a foundation’s “disqualified persons,” an IRS term for foundation managers, family members, directors and key donors, are limited to stock ownership of 20 percent . The Karfunkel insiders owned more than 59 percent of AmTrust’s shares.

Michael Karfunkel and AmTrust each contributed $5,000 to Donelon.

Other insurance companies, attorneys, bankers, and individual in the insurance industry who contributed the $5,000 maximum to Donelon included GMAC Insurance Management, LUBA, USAA, Anchor Insurance Managers, the Republic Group, Joseph Kavanagh of New York City, and Greenberg Traurig of Miami.

Here is the complete list of JIM DONELON CONTRIBUTIONS of $1,000 and more.

Parker, who says on his Web page that he will not accept any contributions from the insurance industry, has received only three individual contributions of $5,000. One of those from Daniel Parker, presumably a relative. Another is from the Louisiana Collision Industry, which has had its cause taken up by Attorney Buddy Caldwell and which had its fight with insurance companies featured on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360.

Of his 83 contributors, 41 gave $1,000 or more. By contrast, 282 of Donelon’s contributors gave $1,000 or more. Here is the list of MATT PARKER CONTRIBUTIONS

We have long maintained that no elected regulator should be allowed to receive so much as one dollar from individuals or industries they regulate. While the official may be incorruptible and the epitome of virtue and integrity, the perception is, and always will be, that their decisions will always come down on the side of the contributor. That is one facet of campaign reform that should be—must be—addressed before we can ever say with a straight face that we live in a democracy where everyone gets the same consideration.

The best example of this is that of the billionaire brothers Farris and Dan Wilks who amassed their fortunes in the West Texas fracking boom. The brothers ponied up $15 million to Cruz’s Super PAC. Now let’s say Cruz somehow, God forbid, becomes President. Later, West Texas residents become concerned about health issues associated with fracking. Their drinking water suddenly becomes contaminated and undrinkable and their livestock suddenly become sick or start dying. Should they even bother appealing to a President Cruz’s humanitarian side for help?

We all know you can check that box “No.”


Does anyone truly believe it was coincidence that State Farm’s increasing homeowners’ deductibles from $500 and $1,000 to 5 percent of the home’s value for named storms in 2014? (If you have a home valued at $150,000, for example, your deductible for damage from a named storm just went from $500 or $1,000 to $7,500. Donelon’s “Oh, well” response? “I wish it were not happening, but it is the world of hurricane deductibles that we live in.” http://www.nola.com/business/baton-rouge/index.ssf/2014/07/state_farms_5_hurricane_deduct.html

Does anyone believe it was coincidence that Allstate kept two separate sets of rates for home repair, depending on whether or not the claims coverage was paid by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) or by Allstate? Following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Allstate deemed the cost of repairing Allstate-covered damage thusly: 76 cents per square foot for drywall, $23.48 per square yard for carpet, and 80 cents per square foot for painting. But when it came to administering claims under NFIP, claims that were paid by U.S. taxpayers, those same costs were estimated by Allstate as $3.31 per square foot for drywall, $28.43 per square yard for carpet and $1.15 per square foot for painting. (It should be pointed out here that Allstate received a fee for administering NFIP claims, but only if the claim was closed. Thus, it was to Allstate’s benefit to settle quickly—at the higher rates—since the money didn’t come out of Allstate’s pocket.

And does anyone think it coincidence that Allstate and State Farm, applying the tactic taught them by McKinsey and Company (the only private sector firm Bobby Jindal ever worked for) practiced the “delay, deny, defend” method of fighting claims of those who lost everything they owned in the hurricanes? Or that claims for homes where the only thing left was the slab on which the houses sat were denied because the homeowner was unable to prove the home had been destroyed by wind (covered) rather than rising water (not covered)? Or that Katrina blew shingles off roofs in Jackson, Mississippi, 180 miles north of New Orleans, but insurance companies denied similar claims in New Orleans because of a lack of proof that shingles weren’t damaged by rising water instead of wind? Allstate adjusters, worked under strict guidelines to protect the bottom line or risk losing their jobs. http://stlouis.legalexaminer.com/automobile-accidents/allstate-you-are-not-in-good-hands/

Does it seem strange to anyone that insurers were so easily able to pull these scams on premium-paying homeowners in Louisiana?

Or does it seem to be only politics as usual in a state where insurance companies and those affiliated with insurance, banking and defense attorney firms could virtually finance the political campaigns of an insurance commissioner who could be expected to grease the skids when the time came for the companies to employ these tactics against devastated homeowners desperate to settle—even for pennies on the dollar?

Parker or McGehee probably won’t win. The odds are stacked too heavily against them. If it even begins to look as if either one will make a dent in Donelon’s base, you can look for the attack dogs to take over the campaign ads.

But this state deserves better. Donelon might well be as honest as Abe, as righteous as Atticus Finch, as moral as Gandhi and as compassionate as Mother Teresa. I’m in no position to say otherwise.

But as long as the Commissioner of Insurance, Public Service Commission and the Attorney General campaign donations are dominated by regulated industries and individuals affiliated with those interests, the perception will always be there that the offices are bought, owned and run by special interests.

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