Archive for the ‘Governor’s Office’ Category

Those Duck Dynasty folks up in West Monroe are riding their gravy train for all it’s worth, scoring a $415,000 tax break every time one of their sappy episodes airs, lavishing the kiss of death (disguised as endorsements) on unsuspecting politicians hoping to capitalize off their name, bashing anyone who happens to think or act differently, licensing merchandise, and demanding exorbitant fees for personal appearances.

Take Vance McAllister, the notorious kissing congressman endorsed by the Duck Dynasty’s Robertson family in his initial run against State Sen. Neil Riser. He won that race but was out a year later, disgraced by that grainy video of him swapping chewing gum with a female staffer who happened not to be his wife.

Then there was the entire Robertson family making nice with Bobby Jindal during the latter’s disastrous term as part-time governor and presidential nominee wannabe.

More recently, Willie Robertson made that painful but hilarious video with U.S. Sen. Dave Vitter in which Robertson tried to convince us (a) that the two had been traipsing about in the woods together (Vitter was in a camo top but was also wearing pressed slacks and a dress belt—not really conducive to stalking wildlife but apparently suitable for a cheesy video) and (b) to be sure and vote for Vitter who Willie said had made mistakes “but who hasn’t?”

McAllister first lost his re-election bid for a full term in Congress last year and this year lost in his attempt to unseat State Sen. Mike Walsworth in the Oct. 24 primary election. Meanwhile,  Jindal and Vitter last week tanked just days apart, underscoring the value of a Duck Dynasty endorsement.

By my count, that puts the Duck commanders at 0-3, which pretty much tracks Phil Robertson’s career as the Louisiana Tech quarterback back in the late ‘60s. I know. I was sports editor of the Ruston Daily Leader at the time and had the unenviable task of trying to write something positive about that Shreveport Thanksgiving Day game in 1966 when Phil completed more passes to Southern Mississippi defensive backs than to Tech receivers.

But now it’s been learned—if it wasn’t known already—that the Duck boys are mercenary money grubbers on top of everything else.

Recently, I accompanied my grandson to Louisiana Tech to tour the campus where he intends to enroll next year. We were paired with a couple from St. Charles Parish whose daughter also plans on joining the computer engineering program there. Her dad and I struck up a conversation during the tour and the talk soon turned to sports and politics as it generally does with men. An executive in the offshore oil industry, he made it clear he was a fan of neither Jindal nor Vitter.

When I mentioned the common affiliation the two had with the Robertsons, he grunted and related a story about how he was charged with obtaining a celebrity guest for the St. Charles Parish Catfish Festival a couple of years ago.

With the Robertsons riding the crest of their popularity, the choice was a natural one. He called them to obtain the particulars of booking one or more Robertson family members for the event.

“They wanted $100,000 as their fee, plus luxury hotel accommodations and luxury transportation to the Monroe airport and from Louis Armstrong Airport in New Orleans to the festival,” he said, adding, “We don’t even have a luxury hotel in St. Charles.”

I opined that the fee they were demanding told me one of two things: They are either full of themselves or they just didn’t want to participate.

“I think they were full of themselves,” he replied, “but if they didn’t want to do it, they sure got their way. I fell out with Phil Robertson right then and there.”

Apparently a tax break of up to $415,000 per show even as state colleges took repeated budget cuts just isn’t enough. http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2015-05-04/-duck-dynasty-keeps-tax-break-as-jindal-cuts-louisiana-colleges

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JINDAL'S LEGACYWith appreciation to our mystery cartoonist

(Click on image to enlarge)

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The fallout from the Louisiana State Troopers’ Association’s (LTSA) endorsement of John Bel Edwards for governor continues with a succession of late-breaking developments, LouisianaVoice has learned.

An undetermined number of troopers from Troop I have reportedly demanded the resignation of LTSA president Jay O’Quinn and David Young, the organization’s executive director, over the endorsement.

Troop I, headquartered in Lafayette, encompasses 5,686 square miles and 8,586 highway miles in eight parishes: Lafayette, Evangeline, St. Landry, Acadia, St. Martin, Vermilion, Iberia and St. Mary.

“It’s not that I don’t support Edwards, because I do,” said one state trooper following last week’s endorsement shortly before the general election that pitted Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter against Democrat State Rep. John Bel Edwards. “I’ve never seen the state police turned into such a political machine,” he added.

As evidence of the LSTA’s morphing into a “political machine,” LouisianaVoice has obtained an email from O’Quinn to select state troopers in which he asked the membership to vote on a proposal that the LSTA write a letter to Edwards requesting that State Police Commander Mike Edmonson be retained in the new administration.

Such a letter would clearly fall under the description of lobbying, something state civil service employees are strictly forbidden from doing.

Edwards easily defeated Vitter by a 56-44 percentage point vote and will be inaugurated governor on Jan. 11.

Meanwhile, LouisianaVoice has learned that the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association is also supporting Edmonson’s reappointment as head of state police.

O’Quinn only recently was elevated to the LSTA presidency after past president Frank Besson was promoted to captain’s rank. No one with a rank above lieutenant may serve as president of the association.

As executive director of the organization, Young essentially serves a paid lobbyist for state police, a perk not afforded state civil service employees. He called the endorsement of Edwards “rare” for the organization, but others are calling it a precedent.

A separate source said that Young had nothing to do with the email and in fact was opposed to and advised against the earlier endorsement of Edwards.

And while state police are not civil service employees in the strictest sense of the term, there is a well-defined list of activities in which they are prohibited from participating. These include:

  • Soliciting votes or contributions for any political candidate, organization or cause.
  • Making political contributions.
  • Making a public political statement or address.
  • Wearing a campaign badge, ribbon, or insignia.
  • Distributing political campaign cards, posters or buttons.
  • Attending a social function which is designed as a fund raiser where a contribution or ticket is required, even if a ticket is offered to the employee free of charge.
  • Becoming a candidate for office, serving as a member of any political committee or taking part in the management of a political party or organization.
  • Publicly displaying political literature, placards, bumper stickers or signs in or on any personal property (except by non-civil service employed spouse on community property).
  • Actively participating in an effort to recall from office an elected official (other than by signing a recall petition).
  • Becoming a candidate for any state, parish, municipal or other political office (other than position of classified employee serving on state civil service commission).


O’Quinn, in his email to the membership, wrote:

As we move forward, I would like your input on a potential issue. We have a board meeting next week, and this topic may be on the table since it has been discussed before. Please reply via email and let me know how you vote. Also, please spread the word to other affiliate members so they can vote if they choose. My email is jayoquinn@bellsouth.net. I will take votes until next Sunday, December 6. I will then let you know the results and vote accordingly if this issue arises.

Here is the question. Are you in favor or opposed to the LSTA writing a letter to Governor-elect John Bel Edwards asking Governor Edwards to retain Colonel Edmonson in his current position? Put another way for clarification: Do you want the LSTA to write a letter to the Governor asking that we retain our current Colonel?

I prefer email because it’s easier to keep track, but I won’t disclose how any single individual voted, nor are you required to vote at all. Please respond. Thanks.



“I am hearing that 85 percent of the troopers do not want Edmonson to stay,” our source, who asked to remain anonymous, said. “I am also hearing (that) Edmonson asked for the LSTA to send the letter,” he added. (Edmonson recently was reported to have said those who speak to or comment on LouisianaVoice anonymously were “cowards,” but with several examples of reprisals already being reported, anonymity is understandable.)

The second source said the email, which was sent mostly to members of Troop L in Mandeville, was not composed by O’Quinn but that it originated with Edmonson and came down through the chain of command to be sent out over his name.

Edmonson, for his part, denied that he had anything to do with the LSTA endorsement of Edwards or that he initiated the effort to send the letter. He also said he had never called anyone a coward. “It’s no secret that I would like another four years at my job,” he said, “but I would never ask someone to write a letter like that or to do anything on my behalf. This has to be the governor’s decision and I would never attempt to influence him in such a way.”

“As for O’Quinn saying he won’t disclose how anyone votes, that’s a joke and it’s precisely the reason that very few troopers will even respond,” the first source said. “They know full well if they vote ‘no,’ it will come back to bite them.

“I hope Edwards won’t buckle to pressure in his decision on a state police commander,” he added. “Politics does not need to be a consideration in this process and this solicitation of a vote to send the proposed letter is blatant politics at its very worst.”


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The numbers just don’t add up.

  • $130,000: The annual salary for the Louisiana governor;
  • 48,014: The number of broadcast TV ads for the four major candidates for governor through Nov. 16, 2015;
  • 24,007: The number of minutes of TV ads we were subjected to through Nov. 16 (at an average length of 30 seconds per ad);
  • 400: The total number of hours of TV ads for governor through Nov. 16;
  • 16.67: The number of days it would have taken you to watch every single ad through Nov. 16;
  • $17,333,920: The total cost of the 48,014 TV ads for the four major gubernatorial candidates (No wonder that Baton Rouge TV station fired the reporter who dared ask Vitter about his prostitution scandal; the station stood to lose lucrative ad revenue from the Vitter camp);
  • 13,654: The number ads purchased directly by David Vitter’s campaign (6,827 minutes, 113.8 hours, 4.7 full days of ads;
  • $3,816,660: Total cost of TV ads purchased by Vitter’s campaign;
  • 6,771: Number of ads purchased by Fund for Louisiana’s Future on behalf of Vitter (and make no mistake, while super PACs are prohibited from planning strategy or even consulting with a candidate, they can trash opponents freely and FLF trashed everyone but Vitter—3,385 minutes, 56 hours, 2.4 days);
  • $3,185,640: The cost of TV ads purchased by FLF through Nov. 16;
  • 9,259: Number of ads purchased by John Bel Edwards campaign (4,629 minutes, 77 hours, 3.2 days)
  • $2,675,600: Cost of TV ads purchased by John Bel Edwards;
  • 2,315: Number of TV ads purchased by Gumbo PAC on behalf of Edwards (1,157 minutes, 19.3 hours, .8 days)
  • $1,204,010: Cost of TV ads purchased by Gumbo PAC, the bulk of which was purchased after the Oct. 24 open primary;
  • 4,679: Number of TV ads purchased by Scott Angelle through Oct. 24 (2,340 minutes, 39 hours, 1.6 days)
  • $1,528,340: Cost of TV ads purchased by Scott Angelle;
  • 3,968: Number of TV ads purchased by Jay Dardenne through Oct. 24 (1,984 minutes, 33 hours, 1.4 days)
  • $1,285,380: Total cost of TV ads purchased by Jay Dardenne;
  • 7,368: Total number of TV ads purchased by smaller PACs (3,684 minutes, 61.4 hours, 2.6 days)
  • 0: The number of ads, the minutes, hours and days and the cost of TV ads in which any of the four candidates actually discussed their plans for resolving the multitude of problems facing Louisiana in public education, higher education, health care, prison reform, employment, coastal restoration and preservation, the environment, the economy, the state budget, or infrastructure.

And therein lies the real shame of the 2015 gubernatorial election.

With so much at stake for the state and with more than 16 full days of TV ad time in which to address our problems, not a word was said by any candidate about what he intended to do to turn this state around after eight years of the amateurish experimental governance of one Bobby Jindal that has brought us to the brink of ruin.

I repeat. Not a single word.

Instead, we were treated to a never-ending barrage of:

  • David Vitter is a snake for his tryst(s) with one or more hookers and is not only despised in the U.S. Senate but is largely an ineffective senator;
  • David Vitter betrayed his family 15 years ago but has been forgiven by his wife and has fought valiantly in the U.S. Senate on behalf of Louisiana’s citizens;
  • John Bel Edwards is joined at the hip with President Obama and desires to turn 5,500 hardened Angola convicts loose to prey on our citizenry;
  • John Bell Edwards has an unblemished record of achievement as evidenced by his graduation from West Point and his subsequent leadership role in the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne and has fought Bobby Jindal’s disastrous programs for eight years.

As the voters of this state who have to make a decision tomorrow (Saturday, Nov. 21), we are tired—tired of the negative campaigning, tired of the distortions of records and outright lies about opposing candidates, tired of the endless succession of robocalls that give us not a live person with whom we can debate issues, but a recording that pitches one candidate’s positives over another’s negatives. (It’s just not the same when we curse and scream our frustrations at a recording.) We deserved better from all the candidates. We got a campaign long on accusations, name-calling and finger-pointing and one woefully short on solutions.

And lest readers think I am directing all of my disdain at the gubernatorial candidates, let me assure you I am not. I have equal contempt for the legislature, PACs and corporate power brokers.

Consider for a moment how approximately $31 million (that’s the total cost of this year’s governor’s race when all media advertising—radio, newspaper, robocalls and mail-outs, along with campaign staff and assorted expenses—are factored in) could have been put to better use. http://theadvocate.com/news/acadiana/13971699-123/louisiana-governor-race-spending-close

True, $31 million isn’t much when the state is looking at yet another $500 million budgetary shortfall, but every little bit helps. These donors, so concerned about the governor’s race, could, for example, feed a lot of homeless people or purchase quite a few text books for our schools. I’m just sayin’….

Most of that money, of course, is from PACs, the single worst plague ever visited upon a democratic society. PACs, with their unrestricted advertising expenditures, along with large corporate donors who also manage to circumvent the campaign contribution ceilings, remove the small contributors and the average citizen from the representation equation.

And why do they pour money into these campaigns? For benevolence, for the advancement of good, clean, honest government.

You can check that box no. It’s for the same reason they pay millions of dollars to lobbyists.

If you really want to know their motivation, just take a look at the list of state contracts http://wwwprd.doa.louisiana.gov/latrac/contracts/contractSearch.cfm or the impressive list of appointments to state boards and commissions.

Our thanks to the Center for Public Integrity for providing us with the television advertising cost breakdowns for the candidates and the various PACs. http://www.publicintegrity.org/2015/10/01/18101/2015-state-ad-wars-tracker


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Now that Bobby Jindal has confronted reality and “suspended” (as opposed to terminated; the two terms are not the same) his moribund presidential campaign, several questions linger about his future and that of his hangers-on, not that anyone in Louisiana—or Iowa—really cares anymore.

There are also questions about how he will dispose of the approximately $261,000 remaining in his mostly depleted campaign fund. http://www.fec.gov/fecviewer/CandidateCommitteeDetail.do

Contributions had slowed to a mere trickle in the last quarter of his campaign which, combined with his inability to climb above 1 percent in the polls, prompted him to finally admit what everyone has known for some time now: “This is not my time.” Hell, even his kids knew that when he staged that creepy announcement to them that he put up on this campaign web page back in June and then immediately took down after national ridicule of the awkwardness of the entire video.

Campaign manager Timmy Teepell apparently remains flummoxed as to why his boy was banished to the standup comedy/concert equivalent of warmup act in the Republican debates. Well, Timmy, it shouldn’t have been a secret to anyone with a clue. Bobby simply had nothing to bring to the table.

So, what does Timmy do now? Given his disastrous handling of a disastrous campaign for a disastrous candidate, it would seem his options in future political endeavors are seriously limited.

As for Bobby, he probably won’t miss a beat. In fact, the rhetoric is not likely to be altered one iota as he eases back into his role as head of America Next, his nonprofit think tank.

He started America Next as a vehicle for all those self-righteous op-eds to support his ultra-right wing exclusionary philosophy that he attempts to pass off as policy papers on issues ranging from immigration to health care to lowering taxes for the rich and for corporations.

Which brings us to the question of what he will do with that $261,000 hanging around in his campaign bank account.

Time was a retiring office holder or losing candidate for office could simply convert leftover campaign funds to his personal bank account provided he reported the money as income and paid income taxes on the money.

No more. But other than that one prohibition, the rules are pretty loose as to what a politician can do with surplus funds.

He can hold on the money in case he ever decides to seek office again or he can contribute to his party or other candidates.

Or he can “donate” the extra campaign cash to his own nonprofit organization. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/05/22/ex-politicians-keeping-100-million-in-private-slush-funds.html

Like America Next. http://believeagain.gop/

Or leadership political action committees (PACs) http://classroom.synonym.com/left-over-campaign-funds-after-elections-17435.html

Like Believe Again. http://believeagain.gop/

Both the brainchildren of Bobby Jindal, America Next and Believe Again basically serve the same purpose—to promote the aspirations and agenda of Bobby Jindal.

And, like Dave Vitter’s Fund for Louisiana’s Future (FLF) and Vitter’s campaign committee, the two share a key player. With Vitter, it is Courtney Guastella Callihan who serves as his campaign finance director and as head of FLF.

With Jindal, it’s Jill Neunaber who ran the day-to-day operations of America Next and Believe Again.

“When I say super PAC, how many people think of a nameless, faceless, shady organization that bombards your television with commercials?” Neunaber asked, adding that Believe Again was a “different kind of super PAC.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/inching-up-in-iowa-bobby-jindal-leaves-no-room-on-his-right/2015/10/17/0aea955e-745c-11e5-8d93-0af317ed58c9_story.html

But aren’t nonprofits like America Next supposed to leave the politics to PACs like Believe Again?

Well, yes and no. So, how does one draw the line distinguishing the two?

Nonprofits like America Next which generally support a single candidate have proliferated since the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. They perform a variety of functions from helping develop polity to underwriting the costs of advertising.

They differ from candidates’ own campaign committees or super PACs in one major aspect: They are not required to publicly disclose their donors.


Even so, the Center for Public Integrity learned that the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) last year contributed $50,000 to America Next. http://www.publicintegrity.org/2015/11/17/18867/drug-lobby-gave-50000-pro-jindal-nonprofit

So, while Jindal the presidential aspirant has faded into oblivion, Jindal the opportunist is alive and well, poised to write even more op-eds that promote the tax, health, education, and economic policies that made his eight years as governor such an unqualified success and which established him as a presidential candidate to be reckoned with and an inspiration to Republicans everywhere.

The obvious next step for him, according to longtime political observer Stephen Winham, is to move for a hostile takeover of The 700 Club from fellow failed Republican presidential candidate Pat Robertson. There may be more than a grain of truth in Winham’s prognostication. After all, he has already gotten his foot in the door with multiple appearances on Robertson’s Christian Broadcast Network (CBN) http://www.cbn.com/tv/1386878899001?mobile=false#





We heard a rumor that on one of his appearances, he admonished Robertson’s audience to “stop being the stupid Christians,” but we were unable to locate that link. Nor were we able to find the link to a video taken of Jindal and his family from an overhanging tree limb as he told his children of his plans to succeed Robertson.


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