Archive for the ‘Politicians’ Category

The fallout from the Louisiana State Troopers’ Association’s (LTSA) endorsement of John Bel Edwards for governor continues with two 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.

“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.

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.

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 any 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.

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.

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 letter solicitation 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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In the overall scheme of things, it’s a relative minor point but nevertheless one that the Director of the Disclosure Division for the Louisiana Board of Ethics should know better than to do.

After all, the rules are laid out quite specifically with allowable and prohibited activities clearly delineated in periodic bulletins sent out to all state employees—particularly during the election cycles every four years.

State Civil Service General Circular Number 2015-027, dated July 15, 2015, says, “This general circular is being issued to remind classified state employees of the “do’s and don’ts” of political activity because of the upcoming election cycle. It is important to remember that the following restrictions apply to ALL elections, local, state and federal.” (emphasis theirs)

There followed a list of seven activities allowed under Civil Service and a list twice as long (15) of prohibited activities.

We call attention to Item “o,” or 15th on the list which says state classified employees may not “‘Like’ or ‘follow’ a candidate or party on Facebook, Twitter or other form of social media.” DOS AND DON’TS OF STATE ETHICS CIRCULAR 2015-27

But yet, there it was, a Facebook “like” for gubernatorial candidate David Vitter by Robin Falcon Gremillion who earns $80,500 per year in her classified position as the Disclosure Division Director for the Board of Ethics. STATE ETHICS ORGANIZATONAL CHART

No biggie, except for the uneven application of the rules.

For instance, a supervisor for the Office of Risk Management, before it was privatized by Bobby Jindal, received an unsolicited ham from a vendor for Christmas. Because it was mailed and not delivered in person, she did in fact receive it and was promptly fined $250. Did we mention it was unsolicited?


Troopers’ Association’s first endorsement ever

On the other side of the ledger is that unprecedented endorsement by the Louisiana State Troopers Association that has much of the association’s membership more than a little rankled.

“It’s not that I don’t support (John Bel) Edwards, because I do,” said one member. LSTA Executive Director David Young said the endorsement is “rare.” “That would have to be rare, as in never, since this is the first time the LSTA has ever endorsed a candidate and the membership was not consulted on this action. I don’t know of a single member who was consulted,” he said.


He told LouisianaVoice that he felt the endorsement was made at the express wishes direction of State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson. “He wants to be appointed for another four years and this was his way of playing up to the front-runner. If (David) Vitter had been ahead in the polls, I can promise you the endorsement would have gone to him. This was an overtly transparent move to put Edmonson in the good graces of the projected winner. He is desperate. He is the only one who could have done this. He had to know the general membership would be furious.”

He went on to say that the endorsement is not allowed because it is a “blatant violation of LSP policy and should be investigated.”

LSP policy provides that No commissioned officer of the State Police shall participate in political activity by:

  • 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).

 Shot at LouisianaVoice

On Sunday (Nov. 15) Edmonson sent a lengthy “feel good” email message to all Department of Public Safety commissioned personnel in which he said he looked forward “to continuing to lead State Police through the election, the transition, and into the new administration.”

He also urged DPS personnel to “ignore internal political ‘noise’ and rumors that will characterize the next month.” He acknowledged that there were decisions he might reconsider but said, those were “few in number.” But then, in a direct shot at LouisianaVoice, he said, “I cannot dwell on those who would criticize the content of what we have done nor the means used to accomplish our goals.”

Earlier, in an address to state troopers, he characterized blog posts by LouisianaVoice about LSP as “B.S.,” and that those who commented on the posts without giving their names were “cowards.”

Fanning refugee phobia, courtesy of Vitter and Jindal

And speaking of cowards, Vitter wasted no time jumping on the anti-Syrian refugee bandwagon—much like Bobby Jindal and all the other hysterical neocons who are convinced that New Orleans is being overrun as this is being written by 10,000 Syrians bent on blowing up the Superdome. (Note: There are no plans to import 10,000 and to date, only 14 refugees have entered Louisiana. Also, of the seven identified Paris attackers, none were from Syria; they were all Europeans).

Both Vitter and Edwards have called for a halt to immigration of the refugees to Louisiana but that hasn’t stopped Vitter from trying his best—by lying through his teeth, of course—to tie Edwards to President Obama’s policy of accepting the refugees, though Edwards had zero to do with the decision.

As pointed out by Robert Mann, if Vitter is truly concerned about the non-existent “influx” of Syrian refugees, he should probably discuss the issue with wife Wendy. She is the general counsel for the Archdiocese of New Orleans which oversees Catholic Charities. Catholic Charities is the volunteer agency that assists refugees in settling in the New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Lafayette areas.  http://bobmannblog.com/2015/11/16/vitter-doesnt-want-syrian-refugees-in-louisiana-he-should-talk-to-his-wife/

But Vitter’s only objective, indeed, his only hope, is interjecting fear and loathing in the race. That’s what losers do. If he is really so concerned about the threat from the imaginary “influx” of terrorists from Syria, he may wish to explain his whereabouts during two of three Senate Armed Services Committee hearings on the volatile situation in Syria from 2012 through 2014. http://bobmannblog.com/2015/11/16/vitter-absent-from-2-u-s-senate-armed-services-committee-hearings-on-syria-2012-14/

He would have had plenty of time to ask all the right questions at those hearings—had he only been there.

Vitter’s and Jindal’s fanning the flames and hatred have been effective. Catholic Charities in Baton Rouge has been receiving death threats after it was learned that a single refugee was settled in the Capital City. And that refugee has since moved on to Washington, D.C.

Thank you, Bobby. Thanks Vitter. You lived down to our expectations.

Bye-bye Bobby party starts early

Perhaps it is only fitting that following his hysterical executive order to suspend that dreaded “influx” of refugees, Jindal suspended his hopeless quest for the Republican presidential nomination, with the ego-laced comment that “This is not my time.” Well, Bobby, you surely got that right. Want a clue as when will be your time? Hint: Think never.


Of course, Jindal won’t go simply away. He just had to pose one more threat to our weary psyche. “One of the things I will do is go back to work at the think tank I started a few years ago—where I will be outlining a blueprint for making this the American century,” he said.

Whoo boy. Just what we need: More harebrained ideas to save American exceptionalism from little Booby.

To paraphrase the title of Joe Namath’s autobiography, I can’t wait until tomorrow ‘cause it gets crazier every day.

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Interspersed in all the venomous political rhetoric in the gubernatorial campaign that is now moving toward its merciful final week are some real issues that affect our lives and which should warrant closer inspection by the voting public.

Unfortunately, given the public’s taste for voyeurism and salacious gossip, that probably won’t happen. Besides, time is short and the sordid half-truths, distortions and details of political black ops are just heating up. There just isn’t time for the things that matter.

But at least one group is taking U.S. Sen. David Vitter to task for a letter he wrote last April to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Commander Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy.

In that otherwise routine five-page letter, dated April 16, 2015, Vitter addressed a number of issues concerning levees, flood control, storm surge protection, past due payments from the Corps to the State of Louisiana for freshwater diversion projects, a request to complete the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project (SELA) in Orleans, Jefferson and St. Tammany parishes, deauthorization of the West Pearl River Navigation Project, a request for increased negotiation efforts to approve the Lower Mississippi River Management proposal, and bank stabilization along the Ouachita River in north Louisiana.

Buried at the bottom of page three of the letter was item number 7: Helis Oil and Gas Permit MVN (Mississippi Valley New Orleans)-2013-02952-ETT.

Issue: “The aforementioned permit application is currently awaiting approval within MVN, but has stalled due to several pending lawsuits,” Vitter’s letter said. “The State of Louisiana, Department of Environmental Quality issued the water quality certification (WQC 140328-02) on March 19, 2015. Issuance of the 404 permit is the last remaining action needed to begin construction of the test well.”

Request: “Immediately approve and issue the 404 permit.”


In his April 16 letter, Vitter did what he does best: intimidate with not-so-subtle threats.

“As the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers moves forward with leadership transitions and promotions in the coming months, I’d like to take this opportunity to ensure that you—as the two primary Corps leaders—continue strengthening your commitment to improve communication and issue resolution with non-Federal stakeholders who depend on the Corps to provide necessary flood protection, reliable navigation, and restored ecosystems,” he wrote.

“…However, it’s critical that Corps leadership understand there remain several significant Louisiana issues that need to be addressed and resolved in an expeditious manner. In light of those issues, I can’t support the transition or promotion of new leadership until I know that a constructive approach will be taken to address and resolve these serious problems.”

As if on cue, the Corps on June 8 approved the permit application by Helis Oil & Gas Co. http://www.nola.com/environment/index.ssf/2015/06/wetlands_permit_approved_by_fr.html

Vanishing Earth, a new political blog that concentrates on environmental issues, obtained the Vitter letter to the Corps that contained Vitter’s heavy-handed approach to resolving issues, particularly the approval of the Helis permit.

That permit, since approved, will allow Helis to drill an exploratory well for the purpose of oil drilling and controversial hydraulic fracking in St. Tammany Parish. Parish residents have resisted fracking in St. Tammany and have even filed a lawsuit in district court to stop the practice there because of legitimate concerns about air and water pollution, damage to the aquifer that supplies drinking water, and the industrialization of the parish.

The irony is that St. Tammany is considered a strongly Republican parish and represents one of Vitters’ strongest areas of support.

But, as is always the case in politics, money speaks much louder than loyalty to constituents and Helis has seen to it that Vitter’s campaigns, both federal and more recently, state, are remembered fondly.

On May 8, less than a month after Vitter wrote his letter to the Corps, Helis made a $5,000 contribution to Vitter’s gubernatorial campaign. Additionally, on that same date, Helis CEO David Kerstein made an identical maximum allowable contribution of $5,000. Then, on Nov. 6 of this year, less than two weeks after the first primary, Helis chipped in an additional $5,000. The company also contributed $15,000 in three separate contributions to lieutenant governor candidate Billy Nungesser.



Moreover, Kerstein contributed an additional $7,500 to Vitter’s U.S. House and Senate campaigns from 2000 to 2008, according to Federal Election Commission records. Corporations are prohibited from contributing to federal campaign. http://docquery.fec.gov/cgi-bin/qind/


Helis apparently is not an equal opportunity donor; no contributions could be found by the company or its CEO to Democrats John Bel Edwards or Nungesser’s opponent Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden.

What David Vitter is essentially saying in his letter to Secretary Darcy and Lieutenant General Bostick is that if they do not perform certain acts, issue the permit, then he will punish them by taking away something of personal value to them which, in this case, are the “transitions and promotions,” wrote Vanishing Earth publisher Jonathan Henderson. “In other words, he blackmailed them.” http://vanishingearth.org/2015/11/05/senator-vitter-corruption-reaches-st-tammany-parish-fracking-fight/

Henderson is encouraging his readers to call on the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Ethics “to immediately investigate Senator David Bruce Vitter.”

Additionally, one source said some residents of St. Tammany were considering filing a complaint with the State Board of Ethics. LouisianaVoice inquired of the state board whether or not such a complaint had been filed. This was the response we received:

In response to your public records request of Nov. 12th, please be advised that all complaints and documents prepared or obtained in connection with an investigation are deemed confidential and privileged pursuant to R.S. 42:1141.4 K&L which also provides that it is a misdemeanor for any person, including the Board’s staff, to make any public statement or give out any information concerning any confidential matter.

LouisianaVoice has begun an investigation into fracking operations in Lincoln Parish as well. Residents there are concerned about the drain on the Sparta Aquifer which supplies drinking water to several north Louisiana parishes. We will bring you more details on those operations as we receive them.

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