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“Loyalty to Joe Aguillard apparently would include a requirement to ignore unlawful and unethical behavior…”

“The reports by Timothy Johnson to Louisiana College obviously had nothing to do with religion and everything to do with personal and institutional integrity and honesty.”

—Statements by Tim Johnson in his Mar. 11 lawsuit against Louisiana College and college President Joe Aguillard. Tim Johnson, son-in-law of Rev. Mack Ford, is said to have removed a girl from the New Bethany Home for Girls after she recorded Ford’s sexual assault of her more than 30 years ago. Johnson, whose son served for a decade as State Director for former Congressman Rodney Alexander, was appointed Wednesday to a $55,000-a-year job with the Louisiana Office of Veterans Affairs which Alexander heads.

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OIL*

*(Only in Louisiana).

A man with direct ties to a defunct church-operated home for girls and boys in Bienville Parish—and to the Baptist minister accused of sexually assaulting teenage girls at the facility—has been hired by former Congressman Rodney Alexander as an administrative program manager at the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs, LouisianaVoice has learned.

Louisiana Civil Service records indicate that Johnson was given the somewhat vague title and began working for the Department of Veterans Affairs today (Wednesday, April 16) at a salary of $55,016 per year.

No explanation was given as to why his employment started in the middle of the week and only two days before Good Friday, a state holiday.

Timothy Johnson’s hiring is the latest wrinkle in the ongoing saga in Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District.

Johnson, of Choudrant in Lincoln Parish, was fired last May as executive vice president at Louisiana College in Pineville after leading an unsuccessful coup against President Joe Aguillard. Johnson had served briefly as acting president of the college and there was speculation at one time that he would be named permanent head of the school.

He filed a lawsuit against Aguillard and Louisiana College little more than a month ago, on March 11. In his suit, he claims his termination last May was in retaliation for his whistleblower complaint alleging misconduct by Aguillard. https://www.thetowntalk.com/assets/pdf/DK219640311.PDF

He claims he followed established policy when he reported to college trustees that Aguillard had misappropriated funds in such a manner that a major donor terminated gifts of about $2 million a year to the school. He further claimed that Aguillard lied to both donors and trustees about the financial matters.

He is married to the daughter of Rev. Mack Ford who ran New Bethany Home for Girls and Boys for several decades south of Arcadia in Bienville Parish and served on the New Bethany board until its closure.

One source said New Bethany was closed in 1996 but the facility was not officially closed until 2001 when the board, on motion of Timothy Johnson, voted to dispose of all of New Bethany property by transferring all physical property and bank accounts to New Bethany Baptist Church. Board records show that both Timothy and Jonathan Johnson attended the June 30, 2001, board meeting.

A support group comprised of female former residents of the New Bethany facility who say they each were physically, mentally and sexually assaulted claims that one girl who was assaulted by Ford managed to record the attack and was subsequently whisked away from the school by Timothy Johnson in an effort to protect his father-in-law. The tape, which the women say was turned over to home officials, subsequently disappeared. http://louisianavoice.com/2013/09/16/neil-riser-campaign-worker-linked-to-defunct-church-girls-home-accusations-of-sexual-abuse-by-father-in-law-minister/

Despite this incident and despite his serving on the board and making the motion to sell the home’s assets at a 1996 board meeting, Tim Johnson is said to have insisted in a conversation with an employee at Louisiana College that he had never heard of New Bethany.

More recently he and his son were active in the unsuccessful campaign of State Sen. Neil Riser to succeed Alexander for Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District seat.

The winner of last November’s election, Vance McAllister, has his own problems after a video recording of him kissing a married woman in his office recently surfaced.

Tim Johnson performed volunteer work on behalf of Riser who was endorsed by Alexander after Alexander suddenly retired last fall with a year still left on his term. His son, Jonathan Johnson, Ford’s grandson, worked for about a decade as State Director for Alexander at $75,000 per year and worked as a paid employee of the Riser campaign.

When Alexander announced last August that he would retire in a matter of weeks, Gov. Bobby Jindal immediately announced Alexander’s hiring as head of the State Office of Veterans Affairs at $150,000 per year, a job that will provide a substantial boost (from about $7,500 per year to $82,000 per year) to Alexander’s state retirement over and above his federal retirement and social security benefits.

The state’s entire Republican hierarchy, with the notable exception of U.S. Sen. David Vitter, immediately endorsed Riser as Alexander’s heir apparent and two of Jindal’s top campaign aides actively worked on behalf of Riser’s campaign.

And now we have Alexander, in his new position, appointing the father (Timothy Johnson) of his former state director (Jonathan Johnson)—a son-in-law and a grandson, respectively, tied to a fundamentalist Baptist preacher who is said to have preyed on teenage girls for several decades, both of whom served on the preacher’s board and both of whom worked in Riser’s campaign—to something called an administrative program manager at $55,000 per year right smack dab in the middle of Jindal’s spending freeze.

Folks, you can’t make this kind of stuff up. The only thing needed to make this story complete is for Jimmy Faircloth to serve as Timothy Johnson’s attorney in his litigation against Louisiana College and Aguillard.

OIL.

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Apparently lost in all the jibber jabber about Vance in his pants McAllister and the mouth-to-mouth resuscitation he and aide Melissa Anne Hixon Peacock recently administered to each other is why on earth Monroe’s Christian Life Church pastor Danny Chance inserted himself into this steamy little affair—without, we might add, having been invited to the party.

Chance, in case you’ve been on vacation in the Ukraine, took it upon himself to reveal to the world (at least that part of the world that really gives a hoot in hell) that it was McAllister’s Monroe District Office manager Leah Gordon who leaked the video of McAllister and Peacock engaged in lascivious lip locking.

Chance apparently violated a ministerial duty of confidentiality when he shared with us a purported statement by Gordon that she was taking the video to State Sen. Mike Walsworth (R-West Monroe) and Jonathan Johnson, former aide to retired Congressman Rodney Alexander and who worked in the campaign of McAllister’s opponent, State Sen. Neil Riser. Both men, by the way, have denied any involvement in receiving or circulating the video.

“I just feel like there is a conspiracy to bring Vance down and destroy him,” the good reverend said. “For someone on his staff to do that is wrong.”

And speaking of wrong, how about a minister violating an apparent confidence by going public with something like a confession, as it were, that an individual (Gordon) planned to forward the video to political operatives? Is that not equally egregious?

Someone recently, perhaps only half joking, suggested that Heath Peacock, erstwhile best friend of Congressman Vance McAllister and husband of McAllister’s paramour/legislative aide, might want to consider running against his former friend this fall for the Fifth District congressional seat.

That would be fun to watch, but we don’t feel it goes quite far enough. We have an idea to extend it to its logical conclusion.

How about if McAllister resigns his congressional seat (there is already pressure from that moral standard bearer, the Republican Party, that he do so), thus opening the door for Peacock’s congressional candidacy? McAllister, naturally would then run for governor next year against…..David Vitter.

Now that would be a match made in hell and could conceivably even launch a new reality show: Duck Dynasty Dilemma.

There would be no debates between the candidates, of course: only the congenial sharing of notes and frat boy exchanges of stories of romantic conquests.

To keep viewers’ interest alive during lulls in the dialogue, lieutenant governor candidate Sen. Elbert Guillory (R/D/R-Opelousas) could promote three-round chicken boxing matches. That would allow bookies to handicap both the governor’s race and sporting events simultaneously.

But the scenario gets better—or worse, depending upon your tastes—and considerably more muddled. To keep up, you may need a pen and paper and perhaps even an abacus and a few highlighters for purposes of color coding. A chart of some type might also help.

Obviously we couldn’t allow Heath Peacock to waltz into Congress unopposed as representative of the good people of Louisiana’s 5th District. He must earn his stripes. For that reason, we have tapped the Hon. Chet Traylor of Monroe as his most worthy opponent.

Remember Chet Traylor?

Way back in 1996, Trayor, then living in Winnsboro, defeated incumbent Ruston’s Joe Bleich to win a 10-year term on the Louisiana Supreme Court. While serving on the state’s high court, he would have occasion in 2000 to write the majority opinion upholding the constitutionality Louisiana’s anti-sodomy laws, thus validating a morals code for everyone to follow.

Traylor, following a divorce from his first wife, married Peggy Marie McDowell Ellington, who was previously married to Noble Ellington, II, of Winnsboro, then a state representative but since retired and subsequently appointed as second in command of the State Insurance Department at a six-figure salary.

The Ellingtons had two sons, Noble Ellington, III, and Ryan Ellington, both of Winnsboro.

The senior Ellington has been quoted as saying that Traylor was “significantly involved” in his divorce.

We may never know the details of the history between Traylor and Peggy Ellington because not long after her marriage to Traylor, she died.

Soon after her death, Traylor, the good Methodist that he is, began yet another relationship—this one with Denise Lively, estranged wife of his stepson, Ryan Ellington.

Now that’s a family man to the core.

And bringing this entire saga full-circle, we have Traylor receiving less than 10 percent of the votes in his 2010 U.S. Senate election campaign against….David Vitter.

All of which goes to prove two points:

  • Politics, especially in Louisiana, does make for strange bedfellows, and
  • If you followed all this, you have far too much time on your hands.

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Without belaboring the obvious, several things are simultaneously clear—and puzzling—about the sordid little spittle-swapping episode involving Fifth District Congressman Vance McAllister and his married aide Melissa Peacock, wife of one of McAllister’s erstwhile close friends:

    • Elected on Nov. 16 and sworn in on Nov. 21, it took him only a month and two days—Dec. 23—to get busted in his own office by his own security camera. That has to eclipse any record for infidelity by U.S. Sen. David Vitter and shows that McAllister is dumber than a duck.
    • While some deep smooching doesn’t begin to compare to Vitter’s pillow talk with prostitutes, McAllister has pretty much been deep-sixed in his re-election bid while Vitter somehow remains the odds-on favorite to become Louisiana’s next governor. Vitter’s romps were in the abstract, only written about, while McAllister’s indiscretion was caught on video for all to see in its fuzzy, grainy quality—which only served to make the whole affair a little seamier and a bit more distasteful.
    • Because the video of McAllister and Peacock was taken inside McAllister’s Monroe office, this obviously was an inside job.
    • As pointed out by political analyst Bob Mann, the most aggressive Louisiana journalist today (Lamar White) is a college student living in Texas. Shame on the rest of us. http://cenlamar.com/2014/04/08/why-the-real-scandal-isnt-congressman-vance-mcallisters-philandering/

All of which raises several equally obvious questions, to wit:

    • How was it that The Ouachita Citizen was chosen to break the story on its web page? Citizen Publisher Sam Hanna, Jr., said the video was sent anonymously to his office. But why not the much larger-circulation Monroe News-Star where the story would have received much wider circulation?
    • Why did the anonymous video donor wait more than three months to send the package to Hanna?
    • Was this video shot from a surveillance camera or a cellphone positioned for the sole purpose of entrapping McAllister?
    • Were any federal laws broken by the person or persons who made the video and/or removed it from the office of a U.S. congressman?
    • Who would stand to gain the most from shooting the video—and releasing it at this particular point in time?

Taking the last question first, the most obvious answer would be a potential Democrat positioning himself to run against McAllister next fall. But how would such a person have access to McAllister’s office to either plant or remove the video? And how would that person know of the supposed relationship between McAllister and Peacock?

There is some speculation that the fingerprints of Timmy Teepell, the OnMessage guru of Gov. Bobby Jindal, were all over this little operation. Jindal, after all, supported State Sen. Neil Riser to succeed former Congressman Rodney Alexander who was appointed by Jindal to head the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs. McAllister has embraced—sort of—the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) that must surely have rankled the Jindalites who have been adamantly opposed to Obamacare since day one.

McAllister retained several of Alexander’s staff members, including Alexander’s former Chief of Staff Adam Terry who admitted he was “crushed” and “pained” that his former boss retired halfway through his term and did not anoint him as heir-apparent, choosing instead to endorse State Sen. Neil Riser. Terry is now McAllister’s chief of staff and some observers say he has never taken his eye off the brass ring—the goal of one day occupying Alexander’s old House seat.

Throwing a monkey wrench into all the speculative machinery is McAllister’s minister who points the finger at McAllister’s Monroe District Officer manager Leah Gordon, also a former member of Alexander’s staff.

The minister, Danny Chance, claimed that Gordon said she was going to take the video to State Sen. Mike Walsworth (R-West Monroe), a Jindal ally, and to Jonathan Johnson, who previously worked for Alexander. Both men campaigned for Riser and both have denied any involvement with the video’s release. Gordon also has denied Chance’s allegation.

Chance made his claim to the Monroe News-Star. http://www.thenewsstar.com/article/20140408/NEWS01/304080023/Pastor-says-McAllister-staffer-leaked-video

It would appear, as reported by White on cenlarmar.com, that the footage was obtained by the strategic placement of a cellphone camera directed at the office’s surveillance video monitor, a tactic that would have required careful planning and forethought. Left unanswered, however, is how the perpetrator knew that McAllister and Peacock would pause at the exact spot where the camera would catch them in their amorous embrace. And knowing that a cellphone can video only for short durations, the timing here for starting the recording is key.

Speaking of which, if one watches the video closely, there are a couple of suggestions of a staged act; as the couple reaches the strategic spot for the video, it appears that it is Peacock who makes the first subtle move toward McAllister, not vice-versa. Not that this in any way excuses McAllister for his stupidity or for his lack of judgment, but it all seems just a bit too contrived to be purely coincidental.

To the question of whether or not any laws were broken, the answer is quite clear: it is a felony to bug a federal office. Period.

As for why the video was leaked to The Ouachita Citizen, suffice it to say that Hanna, in his publication, endorsed Riser in last fall’s election and has made no secret of his opposition to Obamacare and by association, McAllister.

And the timing of its release should be obvious: it’s an election year in Louisiana.

One other question remains: how are the Robertsons over at Duck Dynasty, who actively promote an image of family and church above all else and who endorsed and campaigned for McAllister, going to handle this latest PR gaffe?

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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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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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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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The results of the 5th District congressional race are in and the message has been sent loud and clear—surely loud enough to be heard in Baton Rouge.

With political newcomer Vance McAllister walloping State Sen. Neil Riser (R-Columbia), the heir-apparent to Rodney Alexander’s 5th District seat not by a comfortable but by an astounding and resounding 60-40 margin (an actual vote count of 54,449 to 36,837), the Louisiana Tea Party and Bobby Jindal have to be reeling and wondering what the hell happened. And Riser especially has to be feeling quite flummoxed and embarrassed at this juncture—particularly given the fact that he could muster only 3,800 more votes than he got in the Oct. 19 primary while McAllister pulled in an additional 36,000 votes, a margin of nearly 10-1 in the number of votes gained.

Actually, when you break it all down, there was more than one message sent in this election that Riser entered as the odds-on favorite to walk into office on the strength of the fast one that the Jindalites tried to pull off, not the least of which is that the Duck Dynasty’s political clout appeared to eclipse that of the governor (Gotta give credit where it’s due). Jindal clumsily overplayed his hand when he maneuvered Alexander into “retiring” halfway into this two-year term of office so that he could take a cushy state job as head of the Louisiana Office of Veterans Affairs at $130,000 per year, a job that stands to boost his state pension (he was a state legislator before being elected to Congress) from about $7,500 per year to something north of $80,000 per annum.

Then, as part of the bargain, Riser formally announced the day after Alexander’s announcement that he would seek the position and miracle of miracles, large—no huge—Riser campaign signs literally (as in the day after Riser’s announcement) appeared overnight in Ruston. Political pundits all over the state all but conceded the seat to Riser but then who would bet against him given the fact the job was all but handed to him on a platter? Or so it seemed at the time.

One message was that voters resent being taken for granted, considered a pesky afterthought as it were. Since when does the coronation precede the decision of the electorate in this country? As comic Ron White is fond of saying, you can’t fix stupid and assuming the job was his by Divine Right was stupid—even if that Divine Right was the coveted Jindal anointment.

A second lesson that should sink in on the fourth floor of the State Capitol: instead of flitting around the country like a hummingbird on crack, perhaps Jindal should stay home and do the job to which he was elected—you know, Bobby, that of governor, the job you said you wanted. Forget Iowa. Forget New Hampshire. Forget Faux News. Forget those op-eds for the Washington Post. Do your damned job. Don’t worry about Obama; my grandfather always told me, “If you do your job and quit worrying about the other fellow doing his, you’ll find your own path much easier to walk.” Being absent from the state the equivalent of two of the first 10 months of the year just doesn’t cut it when there is plenty to do right here.

And while Riser was wearing his “guns for felons” NRA mantle like the breastplate of righteousness (Isaiah 59:17), Vance McAllister had the guts look to look beyond that easy position and to say that Medicaid should be extended in Louisiana because of the 400,000 citizens of this state who have no health insurance. And, the message that was apparently lost on Jindal, Riser and the rest of the Tea partiers, is that not all of those are deadbeats; many of them are the working poor—those working but earning too little to afford health care.

And they vote.

A lesson that the remaining 143 members of the Louisiana Legislature might do well to ponder: Despite recent evidence to the contrary, Louisiana apparently is not for sale. When the light is shone on privatization, campaign contributions, health care, inept and unqualified appointees such as Superintendent of Education John White and general mismanagement of the state’s finances, people don’t like what they’re seeing.

As the count mounted Saturday night, two stars—that of Neil Riser’s hopes to move on to Washington and that of Jindal’s already fading aspirations of occupying the White House—were for all intents, snuffed out, obliterated, imploded like a supernova. Jindal, instead of being sought after by the right wing talking head zealots, should now be shunned given that he can’t even deliver votes for a congressional candidate (or for a Republican candidate for governor of Virginia).

Legislators need to take a long, hard look at Jindal’s record of late. It’s really not all that impressive. He has lost court case after court case over retirement reform, vouchers, budgetary matters and public records even as he paid a single attorney more than a million dollars to defend those dogs. The FBI is looking into contract irregularities between DHS and CNSI. He fires anyone who disagrees with him, including members of a levee board who wanted to hold oil companies accountable for the egregious coastal erosion so that he could protect big oil (but he can’t fire the local political leaders in Plaquemines and Jefferson parishes who followed with litigation of their own).

Those legislators would do well to understand that we the citizens of Louisiana are starting to take an interest in what goes on in Baton Rouge. Using campaign funds for such things as installment payments, gasoline and insurance on personal vehicles, paying for “campaign work” when there was no campaign, paying for roof repairs, purchasing LSU football tickets and pricey tabs in the Senate dining hall are perks not available to the great unwashed and we kind of resent that abuse. And make no mistake about it, it is abuse. You are not royalty; you work for us. Never forget that.

Accepting a hundred or so contributions from political action committees tends to drown out the voices of the school teacher, the retail store clerk, the truck driver, and hundreds of thousands of others who cannot afford to go up against those well-heeled corporate lobbyists who ply lawmakers with meals during the legislative session each year. It raises the question of just whom do you represent, the voters or the fat cats who pour money into your campaign so that they will have your ear when push comes to shove in Baton Rouge on key issues while the interests of those who elected you are ignored?

And finally, to Vance McAllister: Congratulations. Enjoy the moment because once you take office, you will be inside the Beltway and somehow that becomes intoxicating and those who go there with good intentions often fall victim to the lure of the siren song of power and influence.

Don’t let that happen because we will be watching and if you screw up, LouisianaVoice will treat you no differently than it treats any other crooked politician (I hate redundancy) who violates the public trust.

Perhaps it is fitting in this, the 100th anniversary of Sam Rayburn’s taking the oath of office in 1913 to begin his 48-year tenure in Congress, that we give McAllister the same advice Rayburn’s father gave him as he departed Texas for Washington following his first election:

Be a man.

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The election in the hotly contested 5th District congressional race between State Sen. Neil Riser and Vance McAllister is less than 36 hours away and as Riser ramps up his negative campaigning, LouisianaVoice has come up with a bit more history on Riser the public servant.

We have already seen how he loves to spend campaign funds for personal expenses but his betrayal of landowners in his district and a list of campaign contributors to his previous state senate campaigns reveals a lot about Riser the man.

Less than a year ago, a group of unhappy landowners approached State Sen. Neil Riser (R-Columbia) for assistance with a problem involving the fencing of 55,000 acres of land in the parishes of Winn, LaSalle and Caldwell.

The eight-foot fence, the landowners complained, essentially barred them of their hunting rights because an obscure law making it illegal to hunt on any land area of less than 300 acres that is surrounded by a game fence. The fence erected by former Wildlife and Fisheries Commission Chairman Bill Busbice surrounds the landowner’s homes and provides only ingress and egress to their property. They also claim that the local eco system has been damaged.

The land purchase and fence erection were financed by an $87.86 million federal grant contained in former Gov. Mike Foster’s executive budget during his final year in office

“We contacted Neil Riser to see if there was anything that could be done,” said Gary Hatten of Olla. He said Riser researched and printed a number of laws he told them Busbice had violated and promised to help. “After a while, he (Riser) stopped taking our calls and no longer returned our calls.”

Riser likewise never returned calls by LouisianaVoice.

Today, Riser’s congressional campaign flyers adorn the fences around the 55,000 acres.

“How can we as sportsmen trust Neil Riser to represent us in Washington when he can’t and won’t represent us here?” Hatten asked.

Now let’s take a look at some of his campaign contributions during his two state senate campaign, the last of which he ran unopposed.

Between 2009 and 2012, Riser received nearly 100 political action committee (PAC) contributions from more than 70 PACs (some were credited with multiple contributions).

And we all know that PACs only contribute to campaigns in the interest of good, honest government with no quid pro quo expected, right?

Among the PACs ponying up money for Riser’s campaign:

Louisiana Bankers Association PAC, Hospital Political Committee, Louisiana Nursing Home PAC, AGRIPAC, Louisiana Medical PAC, Louisiana Homebuilders Association PAC, Louisiana Manufacturers PAC, Louisiana Optometry PAC, LSIPP (Louisiana Society of Interventional Pain Physicians) Pain Pac, CRPPA (Crescent River Port Pilots Association) PAC, International Paper PAC, Ryan Texas PAC, Louisiana Dealers Election Action Committee, Louisiana Orthopaedic PAC, ENPAC (Entergy) Louisiana, Spectra Energy Corp. DCP PAC, TINPAC & Committee for Responsible Government, Future PAC, Log PAC, Political Action Committee, Louisiana Realtors PAC, Louisiana Sheriffs’ & Deputies’ PAC, Sugar PAC, Baker Donelson Louisiana PAC, United Employees PAC, Adams & Reese Political Action Committee, Louisiana CPA Political Action Committee, NORPAC, NORTHPAC North, KB PAC, Common Sense Now PAC, ABC Pelican PAC, Louisiana Dental Political Action Committee, Louisiana Life & Health Insurance PAC, Louisiana Oil & Gas PAC, Louisiana Oil Marketers Association PAC, Louisiana Association of Wholesalers PAC, Louisiana Asphalt Pavement Association PAC, Energy Transfer Partners Texas PAC, LASFAA PAC, Wal*PAC (Walmart), KCS Rail PAC, Louisiana LUPAC PAC, Health Agents PAC, AT&T Louisiana PAC, Allstate Insurance PAC, Delta PAC, IIA of Louisiana PAC, American Electric Power PAC.

Whew! That’s a pretty impressive list of special interests.

But wait! There’s more.

Also kicking in were such noteworthy patrons as Bobby Jindal (oh, wow, what a coincidence—the man who pulled all the strings, a maneuver intended to allow Riser to inherit Rodney Alexander’s old job until McAllister threw a monkey wrench into the works), Rodney Alexander (oh, wow again), Bill Cassidy, Jimmy Faircloth (starting to sound like a modern day version of the Good Ol’ Boys’ Club), PHRMA, Pfizer, Chesapeake Energy Corp. (can you say “fracking”?), Corrections Corp. of America (thar’s money in them thar private prisons), Check Into Cash of Louisiana, Inc. and Advance America (think backbreaking interest payday loans), and the Louisiana Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Alliance (you know, that outfit that 1) is prohibited by law from contributing to political campaigns because it is a public, non-profit organization even though it also gave Jindal $11,000, and 2) had its former president sentenced to 46 months in prison for rigging an association election).

The only question left unanswered is whether Riser, with his NRA membership in hand, has been granted hunting privileges on that 55,000-acre game preserve by Busbice for all that assistance he gave the disgruntled adjacent landowners.

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