As predicted, David Jitter Vindal Vitter has unleashed his first attack lie ad against State Rep. John Bel Edwards in their runoff campaign for governor.
Unlike the distortions and lies perpetrated against fellow Republicans Jay Dardenne and Scott Angelle leading up to last Saturday’s primary election, this ad was paid for the Vitter campaign and not his Washington, D.C.-based super PAC Funds for Louisiana’s Future (FLF).
Nevertheless, lies are lies and Vitter has shown himself to be not only shameless, but a damned cowardly liar as well.
Vitter’s newest ad has all the warmth and charm of the infamous 1988 Willie Horton ad.
For a man with the sordid past of David Vitter, it seems a bit ironic that he would ever approve an ad attacking the character and integrity of another candidate. But hey, that’s Vitter who is rumored to have once asked Rosie O’Donnell if she had ever been mistaken for a man only to have her reply, “No, have you?” (How’s that for an attack ad?)
And events of last Friday (the arrest of his “investigator,” and the auto accident where he was a passenger in a vehicle driven by his campaign finance director Courtney Guastella Callihan whose home address coincidentally just happens to be the Louisiana address of FLF (although the Secretary of State’s corporate records contain no listing for FLF).
The Federal Election Commission has no authority over super PACs in state elections. Even if it did, the board is comprised of three Republicans and three Democrats and never the twain shall meet. Any oversight is left to state ethics commissions but everyone knows what Bobby Jindal did to the Louisiana Ethics Commission back in 2008, so there’s no help there.
But just in case you might be wondering, a reader has researched the criteria for coordinated communications and independent expenditures:
- In order to satisfy the payment prong, the communication need only be paid for, in whole or in part, by someone other than a candidate, a candidate’s authorized committee, a political party committee or an agent of the above.
- Content – names the candidate.
- Conduct – If the person paying for the communication employs a common vendor to create, produce or distribute the communication (Emphasis ours).
Guastella has been paid $55,476 by Vitter’s Senate committee since the beginning of 2013 and $97,273 by the super PAC.
FLF paid for media that names the candidate. She is a vendor common to both Vitter and FLF as evidenced by the payments listed above and as campaign finance director and she was responsible for creating communications for the Vitter campaign.
As for that “Willie Horton” ad, one of the things claimed by Vitter was that Edwards advocates releasing 5,500 hardened criminals from prison and that he “voted for taxpayer-funded pensions for convicts.” The ad cited HB 224 as its source without providing a year for the bill.
Well, we went into the Legislature’s web page and called up House Bill 224 for 2015. That bill, it turns out, was filed by Rep. Frank Hoffman and called for the levy of an additional tax on cigarettes and never made it out of committee.
So, we moved on to 2014. That bill called for a prohibition against installers of satellite television from installing satellites on leased premises. Filed by Rep. Thomas Carmody, it was withdrawn before any action could be considered.
Rep. Paul Hollis filed HB 224 in 2013 and provided for the removal of a school bus driver for violations of certain DWI offenses. That bill passed and was signed into law by Jindal.
On to 2012. HB 224 of that year was filed by Rep. James Armes and dealt with enforcement of child support. It, too, was passed and signed into law.
Act 224 of 2011by Rep. Rick Nowlin also passed and was signed into law by Jindal. But it only increased court costs in criminal cases in the 10th Judicial District.
Only after we went all the way back to 2010 did we find the HB 224 cited by the ad. And no, the bill did not provide for “taxpayer-funded pensions for convicts.” Instead, the bill, authored by Rep. Kevin Pearson, would have required “suspension of public retirement benefits during incarceration.”
As for Edwards’s plan to release prisoners upon the helpless citizens of Louisiana, he did no such thing. Instead, he suggested a comprehensive plan to address Louisiana’s ranking as the number one state in the nation when it comes to per capita incarceration. (The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world so Louisiana, with the highest rate in the U.S., necessarily has the highest incarceration rate in the world.)
And there you have a clear illustration of how the meanings of words can be twisted and distorted in a political campaign. And yes, John Bel Edwards did vote against the bill.
So did 55 other House members as the bill failed, 56-42, with five members absent.
If 56 members voted against the bill, there must have been a reason.
A public employee pays into the retirement system his entire career and that money is earned. If the employee commits a crime within the scope of his employment, there might be an argument to be made for revoking the employee’s pension.
But suppose the employee is convicted of a crime that has nothing to do with his job? Let’s say, for example, he loses control of his vehicle and kills an innocent bystander and is convicted of negligent homicide. And it turns out he was drunk. Certainly, it would not make the employee a saint but neither should it negate his state retirement that he earned through his years of service. That’s constitutionally protected.
HB 224 of 2010 had nothing to do with providing “taxpayer-funded pensions for convicts.” It was about a blanket denial of earned retirement benefits. There’s a huge difference and that’s why John Bel Edwards and 55 other House members correctly voted to kill the bill. The real shame was that it even made it out of committee. Both the claim that Edwards wants to free hardened convicts and that he wants to provide pensions for pensions for convicts are pitifully pathetic attempts to tie Edwards to President Obama because that’s all the arrows Vitter has in his quiver.
Vitter can only resort to blatant lies to bolster his chances.
But then he has never been above lying and character assassination.
He has no integrity and we’ve already had eight years of that.
“Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency” (U.S. Army Chief Counsel Joseph Nye, on June 8, 1954, to U.S. Sen. Joseph McCarthy during the Army-McCarthy hearings, but which could well apply today to David Vitter)
Here’s the ad. You watch it and decide for yourself if you really want someone like David Vitter operating by his own depraved code of ethics for the next four years.