Archive for the ‘Congress’ Category

Associated Press reporter Melinda Deslatte had an interesting column on the Louisiana governor’s race that appeared in a number of state dailies and even in what one of our readers derisively calls “The Hayride North,” but which is known to most of us as The Washington Times.

In her column, Deslatte notes that Republican Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, Republican Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and Democratic State Rep. John Bel Edwards are somewhat irritated that Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter.

The four, for those of you who have drifted off into the semi-conscious state induced by football overdose, are the leading contenders in the Oct. 24 governor’s race and most observers have already conceded the top two spots to Vitter and Edwards.

But Vitter, who remains ensconced in Washington where he insists he is “doing my job that I was elected to do,” is apparently so cocksure of his position that he feels he doesn’t have to get out and meet voters and answer questions or, as the late President Lyndon Johnson would have said, “press the flesh.”

You see, Vitter is trying to buy this election, pure and simple. He’s got this Super PAC called Fund for Louisiana’s Future carrying the water for him. Translated to terms we can all understand, his PAC is his attack dog. He doesn’t have to put his name on those nasty half-truths and outright lies being tossed around about Angelle and Dardenne.

The way Super PACs work, there is supposed to be arms-length separation between the candidate and the Super PAC. There is supposed to be no coordination between the candidate and the Super PACs. That’s why all the attack ads have the disclaimer at the end of the ad that tells us that the message you just heard was paid for by Funds for Louisiana’s Future.

Funds for Louisiana’s Future has somewhere in the neighborhood of $3.5 million to tear down Vitter’s two Republican opponents (notice we never said the ads are used to bring any kind of positive message about Vitter’s accomplishments—just negative messages about Angelle and Dardenne).

But isn’t it interesting that with all those rules about arms-length separation and a ban on coordination, a check of contributions to Funds for Louisiana’s Future finds that Vitter chipped in $250,000 of his own money to the Super PAC. http://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/contrib_all.php?cycle=2014&type=A&cmte=c00541037&page=1

How’s that for arms-length separation? Still think there was no consultation between candidate and PAC?

And don’t think for one minute that Edwards is exempt from attacks. The National Republican Governors Association, after having said it did not plan to do any ad buys for the first primary, has done a sudden about face.

But of course the RGA didn’t count on a surge in popularity by Edwards before the Oct. 24 primary. Everyone assumed Edwards would make the runoff, being the only Democrat in the race, but the RGA got a real shock when Edwards actually forged into the lead in not one, but two separate polls two weeks or more before the first primary.

Panic set in quickly and the ads attacking Edwards, trying to tie him to President Obama, suddenly began flashing across TV screens across the state. It evokes memories of when Buddy Roemer came from nowhere in the final weeks of the 1987 election.

But it’s not the polls or the attack ads that have Angelle, Dardenne and Edwards upset. That, after all, is in keeping with the tradition of Louisiana politics and can be expected. After all, when did the truth ever matter when it came to winning an election?

The thing that’s got the three a mad as a wet hen is Vitter’s refusal to participate in TV debates.

Deslatte says the three are accusing Vitter of:

  • Refusing to attend unscripted events;
  • Engage in real policy debates;
  • Interact directly with voters;
  • Participate in question-and-answer sessions where he is not allowed to review questions in advance “or control the forum style.


Does all that sound a little too eerily familiar? Did a shiver just run up your spine? Did the room suddenly experience an unexplained chill?

The answers for us were yes, yes, and yes, so we did a little historical research and we find some uncanny similarities with someone else you may remember.

First, let’s take Vitter’s earlier claim that “I’m doing my job that I was elected to do.”

Doesn’t that sound a little too much like, “I have the job I want” repeated by Bobby Jindal so often during his first term?

How about Vitter’s:

  • Refusal to attend unscripted events? Anyone remember Jindal ever holding an unscripted event of any description? He couldn’t even participate in a hot dog eating contest without every bite being choreographed in advance.
  • Refusal to engage in real policy debates? Has anyone ever seen Bobby Jindal talk about any issue without repeating the same tired talking points repeated verbatim from one venue to another ad nauseam?
  • Refusal to interact with voters? Ever see Jindal work a crowd? I mean come down off that stage and mingle without a taxpayer-funded State Police security detail protecting him from any human contamination? Didn’t think so.
  • Refusal to participate in question-and-answer sessions when he isn’t allowed to review the questions in advance or control the forum style? Do we even have to say anything here?

The similarities are so strong and so frightening—especially with the prospect of another four or eight years of Jindal-like “leadership.”

Skeptics are saying that Angelle as governor would be “Jindal 2.0.” But Vitter as governor would be “Jindal on steroids.”

Already, it’s becoming difficult to keep from saying Jitter or Vindal.

But one thing is abundantly apparent: Vitter is not running for governor; he’s purchasing the office by attacking opponents on TV instead of confronting them face to face like a man. My grandfather had a name for that: cowardice. And if he’s elected, we have no one to blame but ourselves. We will have been purchased, in the words of the late Earl Long, “like a sack of potatoes.”

As for me, my vote is not for sale.


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My wife received an invitation in the mail Monday (March 23).

It was an invitation to a David Vitter Town Hall Meeting next Monday (March 30) in the East Baton Rouge Parish Council chambers in Baton Rouge at 9:30 a.m.

Needless to say, we are more than a little curious as to why she would get such an invitation from him inasmuch as both she and I are former Republicans now enrolled in RR (Recovering Republicans) and participating in the 12-Step Program.

To be fair, under her name in the address were the words “or current resident,” the implication being that whoever dwells in our house is invited.

Regardless, I’m not entirely certain I want my wife or any of my three daughters in the same room with this man—and not just because of the obvious—the 2007 revelations of Vitter’s association with the former (now deceased) D.C. Madam, Deborah Jeane Palfrey prior to his 2004 election to the U.S. Senate (while he was serving in the U.S. House of Representatives).

Neither is it a claim by former New Orleans Madam Jeanette Maier that Vitter had been a client of hers in the late 1990s.

Nope. It’s the 1993 case of Mary Mercedes Hernandez that sounds alarms and raises red flags for me.

Who is Mary Mercedes Hernandez, you ask?

Fair question. She is a conservative Republican whom Vitter defeated in the race for the District 81seat in the Louisiana House of Representatives in 1991.

In April of 1993, Vitter was one of 16 New Orleans-area House members who voted not to table House Bill 1013 which would have made it illegal for employers or insurers to discriminate based on sexual orientation. There was some feeling that he voted not to kill the bill so that it could be debated on the House floor—and defeated on its merits.

Later that same year, on Sept. 21, Hernandez attended a “town hall meeting” held by Vitter at the American Legion Hall in Metairie. She, along with other constituents, had been invited to attend the meeting by Vitter (we’re seeing a trend here) to “discuss state issues,” she said in a lawsuit she filed against Vitter for physically attacking her at the meeting.

Documents obtained Monday by LouisianaVoice show that Vitter counter-sued Hernandez for harassment, naming prominent state Republican officials as her co-conspirators but that in the end, a judgement was signed in favor of Hernandez and Vitter paid Hernandez a small amount of money to settle her lawsuit in March of 1998, the year before he won a 1999 special election to succeed U.S. Rep. Bob Livingston who resigned following disclosures of his own extra-marital affair. VITTER 1993 ASSAULT CASE

The amount of the final settlement—a mere $50—isn’t nearly as important as what the few pages reveal about Vitter and how he can go on the attack when challenged.

For example, among the documents obtained by LouisianaVoice was a letter written by Vitter two years after the suit was filed, and while it was still moving through the legal system, to Livingston.

The letter, dated April 12, 1995, read:

  • “Thank you very much for your recent letter inviting me to help support the East Jefferson Parish Republic PAC with a significant contribution. I have been an active participant in and supporter of the PAC in the past, and would love to continue that support. However, one matter prevents me from doing so at this time.
  • “Several months ago, a Ms. Mercedes Hernandez slapped me with an utterly frivolous lawsuit which continues to languish in the courts. This is a continuation of a personal vendetta against me on the part of not only Ms. Hernandez, but other persons active in the PAC, specifically including John Treen and Vincent Bruno. Both Messrs. Treen and Bruno were instrumental in encouraging this harassing action. In light of this and in light of these persons’ continued active involvement in the PAC, I will have nothing to do with the PAC’s fundraising efforts.
  • “I can easily tolerate sincere disagreements with people. I can even tolerate serious disagreements which lead to litigation. But I will have nothing to do with people who pervert the judicial system to harass me, carry out a personal vendetta, and directly harm not only me but my wife and child as well.”

John Treen, the older brother of the late Gov. Dave Treen, lost a 1989 special election to the Louisiana House of Representatives to Ku Klux Klansman David Duke and Dave Treen lost to Vitter in that 1999 election to succeed Livingston by a scant 1,812 votes. Bruno was a member of the Republican Party’s State Central Committee and worked in the 1999 Dave Treen congressional campaign.

So, it’s easy to see that bitter feelings were running deep when Hernandez asked Vitter during a question and answer session to explain the intent of House Bill 1013, the so-called “Gay Rights Bill,” had failed by a 71-24 vote in April of that year—with Vitter voting against passage. It might even reasonably be called ambush journalism—but sometimes that’s the only way to get an answer from some of our elected officials (see Bobby Jindal).

In her petition, she said Vitter “became agitated and enraged,” left the podium and advanced toward her in a “threatening manner, pushing aside chairs where were in his path,” and wrenched a portable tape recorder from her grasp, causing injuries to her right hand.

In the classic defense of “My dog doesn’t bite,” “I keep my dog in my yard,” “I don’t own a dog,” Vitter denied that (a) the incident occurred, (b) he had no intent to cause “physical contact or the apprehension of physical contact,” (c) “any contact was incidental,” (d) that Hernandez “sustained no injuries as a result of the alleged events in question,” and (e) Hernandez should be held in comparative negligence and assumption of risk…in mitigation or in reduction of any damages recoverable by the plaintiff…”

And then he filed a reconventional demand, or countersuit, claiming that Hernandez had gained the floor at the “town hall meeting” to “spread false, malicious and damaging information about Mr. Vitter, particularly concerning his voting record with regard to gay rights.”

Hernandez, in her answer to Vitter’s reconventional demand, described herself as a conservative Republican and active as a member of the Jefferson Parish Republican Party. She said she wanted him to explain the “Gay Rights Bill” and his position on the bill because she “had heard that he was a co-author of the bill” by former Rep. Troy Carter (D-Algiers).

(An attempt by LouisianaVoice to determine the names of any co-sponsors of the bill was unsuccessful because the Legislature’s web page which tracks bills in current and past sessions goes back only to 1997.)

She said “after being assaulted and battered” by Vitter “in front of scores of people,” she left the meeting and went to a nearby restaurant where she met a friend, Peggy Childers, who had been seated next to her at the meeting and who had witnessed the encounter.

It was Childers, she said, who suggested that she contact John Treen, “a friend and very prominent and respected member of the Republican Party, for advice. The following day, Sept. 22, she met with John Treen, Ms. Childers, Bruno (then Vice-Chairman of the Jefferson Parish Republican Party), and several others.

The judgment against Vitter was for a pittance ($50, plus judicial interest and costs is certainly that in any legal proceeding), but it did vindicate Hernandez and the entire matter illustrates the mental makeup of the man who wants to be our next governor.

(An earlier post of this story incorrectly said Vitter voted to kill the bill.)

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The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the Koch brothers and big oil won quiet but major victories in the U.S. House last week and five of Louisiana’s six-man congressional delegation were complicit in efforts to thwart efforts to protect the environment.

Republican Reps. Steve Scalise, Charles Boustany, John Fleming, Ralph Abraham and Garrett Graves voted in lock step on three separate measures dealing with environmental issues the outcomes of which were certain to please ALEC and corporate interests opposed to issues important to environmentalists. Rep. Cedrick Richmond was the lone holdout on each of the bills.

The five Republicans voted in favor of two House resolutions detrimental to environmental proponents and against two bills opposed by those same interests.

The two resolutions supported by Scalise, Boustany, Fleming, Abraham and Graves included:

  • A proposal to restructure the Environmental Protection Agency’s 52-member Science Advisory Board. Included in that restructuring was a proposal to reduce academic representation on the board while expanding corporate membership. The vote to give corporations a stronger voice in denying climate change was 236-181 in favor of HR 1029 which now goes to the Senate.
  • Approval of HR 1030 by a 241-175 vote to kill certain environmental rules unless all data from supporting studies is made public so that the study could be independently replicated—including confidential health information about participants.

The five Republicans joined with the majority to defeat one other provision contained in the two House resolutions cited above as they defied all logic in voting down by 179-237 an amendment to HR 1029 by Democrats that would have denied seats on the EPA Science Advisory Board to scientists whose research is funded by firms convicted of major environmental crimes.

It was recently revealed that one scientist, Dr. Willie Soon, who has denied evidence of climate change, received $1.25 million to underwrite his research denying climate change from ExxonMobil and Koch Industries. Koch alone has funneled some $73 million to groups denying climate change.

It would certainly appear that big oil has invested heavily in the futures of a certain five Republican congressmen from Louisiana and that those investments are paying huge dividends.

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There comes a time when those surround Bobby Jindal must return to earth and come to grips with a realistic fact about their boy.

Pick one:

  1. He cannot seriously consider himself real presidential timber;
  2. His quest for POTUS is simply a cruel joke he’s playing on the rest of us;
  3. He told an unforgivable lie when he said, “I have the job I want”;
  4. He has no clue as to how to govern a state, let along an entire nation;
  5. The little boy should never try on big boy pants;
  6. He may actually be qualified to lead the Stupid Party;
  7. All of the above.

The correct answer is….well, you know.

As Jindal’s numbers continue to shrink to less than single-digits in GOP presidential preference polls, his efforts to garner attention have ramped up accordingly and in the process, have made him a national—if not international—laughingstock.

His handlers should take note and rein him in—for his own sake. While once fun to watch him as he writhes and issues forth preposterous utterances, people are starting to exchange nervous, embarrassed glances. It’s kind of like the drunk uncle you want to keep away from reunions, weddings, funerals and any other social gatherings—at all costs—in order to prevent his bringing further shame on the family.

That’s what happens when you have someone who doesn’t know when to shut up or when he’s had too much to drink—in Jindal’s case, some unknown Kickapoo ego-boosting joy juice that has him convinced he’s democracy’s answer to the rest of the world (Hint: George W. Bush already tried that and it didn’t work).

In recent weeks, we have seen the following:

And even before the recent rash of brashness on his part, Jindal set the tone right after the 2012 presidential election loss by Mitt Romney when he said the Republican Party needed to “stop being the stupid party.” http://thehill.com/video/in-the-news/279243-jindal-republicans-must-stop-being-the-stupid-party

There seems to be no end to his string of banalities—unless one wishes to include his duties as governor of Louisiana. In that case, he appears to have punted, to have taken a powder, abdicated, as it were.

But for the true picture of the depth of his silliness, we need to go all the way back to February 2, 2005, and then-President George W. Bush’s State of the Union Address—a full four years before Jindal’s disastrous Republican response to the Obama State of the Union Address.

The 2005 Jindal was in stark contrast to the January 2015 Jindal.

In 2005, then-U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal drew national attention (what else is new?) when he provided a bowl of purple ink for members of Congress to dip their index fingers in and to hold the fingers aloft during Bush’s address as a show of solidarity with Iraqi citizens who had voted in elections in that country. http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1683&dat=20050203&id=GSQqAAAAIBAJ&sjid=Q0UEAAAAIBAJ&pg=6546,792517

“We all watched with joy as Iraqis dipped their fingers in ink and held them high, proudly proclaiming to the world that they had voted,” Jindal said rather naively in a letter to fellow congressmen as he somewhat prematurely launched his one-man celebration of the birth of democracy in Iraq.

That was then.

This is now:

That experiment in democracy apparently did not take in Iraq as the country anticipates a bloodbath between the Sunni and Shiite factions, a rift that pre-dates American democracy by some 1100 years and shows no signs of going away. http://www.cfr.org/peace-conflict-and-human-rights/sunni-shia-divide/p33176#!/

As if that were not enough, our friend C.B. Forgotston points out that today’s (Monday) Baton Rouge Advocate quotes Louisiana Secretary of Revenue Tim Barfield as saying that he “has already been in talks with Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform to see if the group would consider replacing revenue lost from local inventory taxes with increased collection of remote sales tax revenue neutral.http://theadvocate.com/news/11837337-123/st-james-leaders-brace-for

That’s correct. The administration consults with Norquist before making any decision on the state’s budgetary matters or before even going to the restroom. A governor who is the self-proclaimed expert on all matters dealing with foreign policy apparently cannot make a decision on Louisiana issues without the nod of approval of the most powerful unelected official in America. As Forgotston pointed out this morning, “A group out of D.C. is in talks with Team Jindal on how to tax us.  If the legislators had any courage or self-respect, they’d shut this down NOW!” You simply can’t make this stuff up, he says.

But, hey, our governmental sage has a bowl of purple ink for anyone who’s interested.

To paraphrase our former governor Bobby Jindal, “at the end of the day,” you have “two things:”

  • One, we have a man who, though he repeated ad-nauseam during his first term that he “has the job he wanted” and then proceeded to spend all of his second term chasing the job he really wants to such a degree as to abandon any pretense of being governor.
  • Two, by admitting that the administration has been in talks with Grover Norquist, the tea party guru who doesn’t even live in Louisiana and never has, Barfield has openly acknowledged what we all knew: that Jindal has never—repeat, never—been his own man, and never will be. He is beholden to big business and the no-tax-under-any-condition mantra that the corporate world cherishes.

We can only conclude that he has been snorting too much Koch.

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JINDAL’S CAMPAIGN (Thanks to Gary Brookins and Susie MacNelly, creators of SHOE):

Any effectiveness in bringing stories to our readers can be attributed not to any dogged pursuit of truth by LouisianaVoice (We are, after all, old and basically lazy), but to our readers who continue to feed valuable tips and documents to us.

One such example followed our publication of the Thursday story about the creation of the super PAC Believe Again on behalf of Gov. Bobby Jindal in an attempt to raise campaign cash for his efforts to secure the Republican nomination for president by former U.S. Rep. Bob Livingston, Chairman, and Treasurer Rolfe McCollister. McCollister is Baton Rouge’s defender of freedom of the press (Irony, folks: remember McCollister, the CEO of Louisiana Business, publisher of the Baton Rouge Business Report, was part of the LSU Board of Supervisors that fought efforts to gain access to the list of candidates for LSU president).

One of our sharp-eyed readers noticed that we also ran a copy of a Jindal tweet about another of his organizations, www.standuptowashington.com and took it upon himself to try and see who owned the web domain (“not that we don’t already know,” he added).

The domain name itself, he said, was purchased through a company called Domains by Proxy,” a service that allows purchasers to obtain domains anonymously. “All information is hidden, so I pinged the domain and got the address:,” our reader said.

Now, of course, we have no clue what those numbers mean, but apparently he did.

“After that, I ran a search to see what other sites might be neighboring that one on the web server, and it turns out there are 62 domain names sharing that IP (internet provider) address.”

Our reader provided a list of the 62 domain names and we attempted to call each of the addresses and found that many were just purchased and held but no actual web page ever created (a common practice for those attempting to secure all similar-sounding names either in hopes of selling them or to protect a like-sounding web page they intend to use).

Besides the blank pages, we found a few that appeared to be legitimate and addressing such topics as health care, tax reform and one belonging to Warner Cable.

But we also found one belonging to OnMessage, the Virginia political consulting firm that has received more than $5 million in consulting fees from Jindal since 2007 and for which Jindal’s former campaign manager and chief of staff now works.

Also on the list was www.americanext.org, which is one of several non-profits created by Jindal to suck up donor contributions.

Several web page addresses were registered in the name of Florida Gov. Rick Scott for whom three of Jindal’s former campaign workers and former appointees now work. Known as the “Louisiana Mafia” in Florida, Melissa Sellers and husband and wife Frank and Meghan Collins figured in the rift over the Florida state police commissioner’s refusal to provide transportation in state vehicles for Scott campaign workers.

Only three of the 10 domain addresses owned by Scott were functional. Two were English and Spanish versions of the same page thanking Florida voters for returning Scott to office last fall. The other was simply www.letsgettowork.net.

Another was one belonging to unsuccessful U.S. Senate candidate Shane Osborne in which he thanked Nebraska voters who supported his failed candidacy.

One web address quickly became the subject of speculation. The web address www.believeinlouisiana.com is a “527” non-profit political organization launched by Jindal on Jan. 18, 2008, only days after he was inaugurated for his first term.

LouisianaVoice has published an extensive list of contributors to Believe in Louisiana who combined to pour more than $2.4 million into the organization, which reported spending $2.2 million, much of that to Teepell and OnMessage. http://www.campaignmoney.com/political/527/fresh-start-louisiana.asp

McCollister and David Roberts of Prairieville were listed by Louisiana Secretary corporate records as directors and its agent was David Woolridge, Jr., of the Baton Rouge law firm Roedel, Parsons, Koch, Blache, Balhoff & McCollister. Records reflect that the last annual report filed was in 2014 and that the organization is no longer in good standing.

Its web page pretty much reflected the same thing. Unlike times past when it was easily accessible, when we clicked on the web address this time, we got only a blank page.

Its fund balance, if it actually had one (the contributions and expenditures we cited were a couple of years old), were probably shifted into either www.standuptowashington.com or Jindal’s newest fund-raising ploy, www.believeagain.com.

One thing is abundantly evident (or should we say “absolutely”?) is the same tired old names keep bobbing to the surface every time Jindal floats a new .com.

But the presence of Livingston is a curious one. Jindal once worked for Livingston when the latter was in Congress. That was before Livingston was tabbed as the next House Speaker, only to resign in the wake of revelations he’d had an extra-marital affair even as the House was bringing impeachment charges against President Bill Clinton for his affair with Monica Lewinsky.

Livingston has moved on to form an influential lobbying office in Washington, so it’s somewhat perplexing as to why he would become involved in a campaign that had gotten “absolutely” no traction.

Meanwhile, back in Baton Rouge, the state’s financial condition continues to spiral out of control. Jindal is in town only to attend his prayer meeting at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on the LSU campus tomorrow and then he’ll be off again, probably back to Iowa to court his tiny cadre of supporters.

As Jindal turns his attention more and more to the GOP president nomination, higher education is facing cuts of up to $370 million and on Thursday, we learned that the Department of Health and Hospitals may undergo mid-year cuts of $700 million.

It will be very interesting to see what positive spin Jindal will try to put on that turn of events. No doubt, he’ll attempt to take credit for reducing the size of government and cutting unnecessary expenses—all while chasing the Islamic hordes out of Europe.

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