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Archive for the ‘Campaign Contributions’ Category

Louisiana’s campaign finance reports can be very revealing—and awfully embarrassing—when certain contributors are linked to business relationships with the candidate.

And just as eye-opening can be an accounting of how campaign funds are spent.

Take Jerry Larpenter, the sheriff of Terrebonne Parish these past 30 years, for example.

From 2012 through 2017, a period of six years, Larpenter dished out more than $130,000 in campaign funds to pay for golf tournaments, golf tee shirts, embroidered shirts for golf tournaments, camo hats and koozies for golf tournaments, golf trophies, golf bags, insurance for golf tournaments, cups for golf tournaments, signs advertising golf tournaments, guns for golf tournament prizes, food for golf tournaments, cracklings for golf tournaments, golf tournament brochures and envelopes, food for golf tournaments, and $15,482 paid to Web Corp. of St. Charles, Missouri, for bulletproof vests for deputies (the only problem with that is Web Corp. is a web design company, not a bulletproof vest company).

Some of Larpenter’s campaign contributions were also rather interesting. There was $2,500 from City Tele Coin of Bossier City back in 2014. City Tele Coin, according to its WEB PAGE, provides telephone services for correctional facilities. There has been considerable discussion on the Louisiana Public Service Commission about the high rates charged inmates’ families for collect phone calls by these companies.

Another $4,500 came from Anthony Alford Insurance. Tony Alford’s company held a contract with the sheriff’s office and with the Terrebonne Parish Council for insurance coverage. Alford and Dove are business partners in a company called PALOMA ENTERPRISES. With Dove as a business partner while simultaneously serving as parish president, such a business arrangement between Alford and the parish council would appear to be an ethics violation.

Moreover, Larpenter’s wife Priscilla is listed as an officer for both ALL PROPERTY & CASUALTY SERVICES and A&L PROPERTY & CASUALTY SERVICES. Alford is also listed as an officer for both companies.

Louisiana Workforce of St. Francisville (now defunct) and Security Workforce, LLC, of New Roads, both run by Paul Perkins, combined to contribute more than $6400 to Larpenter’s campaigns. The two firms provided prison labor for local jails to hire out to businesses, a practice many equate to legalized slavery.

Perkins is a former BUSINESS PARTNER and subordinate of former Angola warden Burl Cain and current Public Safety and Corrections Secretary Jimmy LeBlanc. Before Louisiana Workforce went under, David Daniel worked as a warden for the company while it contracted with the West Feliciana Parish Sheriff’s Office for prison labor. The sheriff of West Feliciana is Austin Daniel, David Daniel’s father.

Louisiana Workforce was at the center of a controversy in 2010 when a state investigation revealed that documents were being FORGED to alter dates on work release agreements. In all, 68 documents were altered or signatures forged so that they would pass state inspections. A 2016 STATE AUDIT called for better oversight of the program.

Correctional Food Services, Inc. of Dallas, about which precious little is known (the company does not have a Web page), but which is presumed to provide food for prisoners, contributed $3,760 to Larpenter’s campaign.

But the most curious contribution was the $3000 from the Terrebonne Men’s Carnival Club of Houma. Larpenter’s campaign finance report indicated that the $3000 came from a “winning ticket” purchased from the Krewe of Hercules.

But if there’s one thing that can be said of Larpenter, it’s that he is not short on imagination when it comes to spending other people’s money.

Take the old FLOWER FUND, run for years by Larpenter—and his predecessor. It was run in a manner eerily reminiscent of Huey Long’s legendary “deduct box,” the scam that required state employees to contribute a percentage of their state salaries to Huey’s campaign fund whether they liked it or not.

The flower fund was a virtual clone of the deduct box and while Larpenter didn’t initiate the practice—it was already in place when he became sheriff—he carried on the tradition in the grand tradition of his old boss, the late Sheriff Charleton Rozands.

Each month, the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office’s 299 employees “contributed” $1 of their pay checks to the flower fund which was occasionally used to actually purchase flowers but which more often went for gifts for the sheriff at Christmas, on his birthdays and on boss’s days. Larpenter was the only member of the sheriff’s department who did not contribute to the fund.

Larpenter became sheriff in April 1987 and the practice continued at least until 2001 and it wasn’t until 1999 that employees learned for certain through an attorney general’s opinion that the “contributions” were not mandatory.

In the interim, flower fund expenditures included:

  • $1,462.41 for s stereo system for Larpenter;
  • $1,000 for Larpenter’s account at a furniture store;
  • $978.53 for a trolling motor, two batteries, and accessories for Larpenter’s birthday;
  • $183 for building materials from Lowe’s (records indicate it was spent for Larpenter’s Christmas present);
  • $631for fishing gear as a gift for Larpenter;
  • $44 for a gift for Larpenter’s first wife;
  • $186 for hunting gear;
  • $220 for fishing equipment for Larpenter for a Boss’s Day gift;
  • $60 for perfume;
  • $258 for a man’s watch;
  • $400 for the purchase of a trolling motor for Larpenter as a combination Boss’s Day and birthday gift;
  • $585 for nine watches from the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association, which Larpenter said were gifts for 20-year employees of his office;
  • $110 for flowers for a memorial for a deputy who died in the line of duty.

Following the attorney general’s opinion and a federal investigation into the practice, Larpenter announced that the fund would no longer be used as a slush fund for gifts for him but would instead be used to benefit his employees and to fund two scholarships.

He added that while flower fund money would no longer be used to purchase gifts for him, it did not mean employees could not “put in” themselves to buy him gifts.

Now that’s subtle.

 

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Here’s a pretty interesting scenario:

The administration, abetted by a Republican congress:

  • Dismantles consumer protection laws. Done.
  • Repeals environmental protection regulations. Check.
  • Does away with civil service protections. In progress.
  • Guts Medicaid, Medicare, and social security. Working on that.
  • Passes more tax breaks for the wealthy and for corporations. Proposed.
  • Moves low-interest federal student loan programs to private banks that charge higher interest rates to already cash-strapped middle- and low-income students. Proposed.
  • Tightens restrictions on illegal immigration—not for the reasons given, but instead, to ensure maximum occupancy of private prisons that are paid according to the number of beds filled. Ongoing;
  • Continues to offer “thoughts and prayers (TAPs) but does little else in the way of addressing the growing problem of mass shootings in America—because that’s the way the NRA wants it. No problem.
  • Systematically undermines organized labor so that worker protection, benefits, pay, etc. are minimized. Ongoing.
  • Screams “law and order” on the campaign trail but ignores, even attacks, the rule of law when it is to their benefit. Just watch the nightly newscasts.
  • Attacks the news media, the one independent institution capable—or willing—to keep check on political misdeeds and wrongdoing. A given.
  • Spew more patriotic rhetoric in order to gin up the war machine in countries where we have no business so more Americans can die needlessly so that the MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX that outgoing President Eisenhower warned us about in 1961 can continue to prosper and thrive. This tactic has never wavered.
  • Continue the practice of rolling the flag, the Bible, and the false label of patriotism into some sort of one-size-fits-all commodity to be sold to evangelicals like Disney souvenirs or McDonald’s Happy Meal toys. Don’t believe me? Watch the mass hypnosis of a Trump rally; it’s the same misplaced trust in a mortal being as the personification of some sort of divinely-inspired savior that we saw with Jim Jones and David Koresh.
  • Repeals banking regulations in order that the country’s financial institutions will be free to plunge the nation—and perhaps the world itself—into another financial crisis as bad, or worse, than the 2008 collapse (and for the information of some who apparently do not know, Dodd-Frank did not enable the last crisis because Dodd-Frank was not enacted until 2010, two years after the collapse). Passed and signed by Trump.

All these objectives, and more, when carried out, will have the cumulative effect of creating economic chaos which in turn will drive housing prices spiraling downward as the market is glutted by foreclosures as before. Layoffs will follow, resulting in high unemployment and homelessness. Businesses will close, causing more economic uncertainty. With instability in the Mideast will come higher oil prices.

That’s when the vultures will move in, snapping up property at bargain basement prices from desperate owners who will be forced to sell for pennies on the dollar because they have no negotiating leverage.

It’s all part of the Shock Doctrine principle that author Naomi Klein wrote about—and it works.

When the recovery does come, it’ll be too late for most. And these investors, these people who propped up the Republican Party, will be holding all the cards. The already gaping abyss between the haves and have-nots, between the 1 percent and the rest of us, will grow ever wider and those in control now will then be in even more control than before as more and more of the country’s wealth flows upward. Trickle down was—is already—a distant fantasy.

So, just who would be in a position to pull off such an economic coup at the expense of American citizens?

Try the Brothers Koch—Charles and David—and their cabal of fat cats.

You can begin the discussion by asking one simple question: why else would they commit their network of billionaires to spending $400 million in the 2018 midterm election cycle (double what they spent in the 2014 mid-terms and a 60 percent increase over 2016) if they did not stand to gain something from it?

If your answer is that they only want good, clean government, you’re just fooling yourself. No one throws that much money at dirty politicians and expects it to come back crisp and clean.

Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips said, “We will be spending more than any midterm in our network history.”

Russian collusion? These guys can play hardball just as well as the Russians can and they do it legally, through their PACs, their foundations, and their personal bankrolling of campaigns.

Facebook account hackings? Try i360, the Koch Industries data analytics company that compiles information on nearly 200 million active voters.

Want to hear how they wrap themselves in the flag? Try some of their front groups: Americans for Prosperity, Libre Initiative, Concerned Veterans for America, Generation Opportunity, and Freedom Partners Action Fund.

Truthout, an online political news organization that is a tad more left-leaning than Faux News (that’s parody, for those of you who don’t recognize it), has compiled a list of 2018 KOCH CANDIDATES to whom they are funneling campaign contributions.

Here are the benefactors of KochPAC’s generosity from Louisiana:

  • S. Rep. Garret Graves of Baton Rouge: $5,500 to Garret Graves for Congress;
  • S. Rep. Mike Johnson of Bossier Parish: $5,000 to Mike Johnson for Louisiana;
  • S. Rep. Steve Scalise of Metairie: $85,000 to his Scalise Leadership Fund; $10,000 to his The Eye of the Tiger Political Action Committee (how’s that for appealing to all those rabid LSU fans?), and another $10,000 to Scalise for Congress ($105,000 total);
  • S. Sen. Bill Cassidy of Baton Rouge: just a measly $1,000 (an insult) to his Continuing America’s Strength and Security (more flag-draping nomenclature) PAC.

But it doesn’t stop with Louisiana. Not by a long shot.

The Kochs also contributed:

  • $10,000 to Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts’ Preserving America’s Traditions (Guess it’s a foregone conclusion that his opponent has no interest in preserving any of the country’s traditions.)
  • $10,000 to Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt’s (get this) Rely on Your Beliefs Fund (now if that doesn’t choke you up, you’re obviously an anarchist);
  • $5,000 to Virginia’s Rep. Dave Brat’s Building and Restoring America Together PAC (oh, puh-leeze!);
  • $10,000 to Texas Rep. Pete (please tell us he’s not related to Jeff) Sessions’s People for Enterprise Trade and Economic Growth (PETE—how clever, but shouldn’t it be PETEG?) PAC;
  • $5,000 for Texas Rep. Will Hurd’s Having Unwavering Resolve and Determination PAC;
  • $5,000 to Texas Rep. Mike Conaway’s Conservative Opportunities for a New America PAC;
  • $10,000 to Pennsylvania Rep. Keith Rothfus’s Relight America PAC;
  • $5,000 to Pennsylvania Rep. Scott Perry’s Patriots for Perry PAC (the obvious implication being that no patriot could possibly be for his opponent);
  • $10,000 to Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Kelly’s Keep America Rolling PAC (Could this be a subliminal reference to the “Let’s roll” words of Todd Beamer who tried unsuccessfully to disarm hijackers on United Flight 93 just before it crashed in the Pennsylvania countryside on 9/11?).

None of this is intended to diminish, ridicule, or scorn the true patriotic love of this country on anyone’s behalf. Patriotism is a wonderful thing as long as it is kept in perspective. But to allow the love of country to blind you to the shortcomings of our so-called leaders who sell patriotism like a carnival barker sells tickets to a lurid peep show is not my definition of the word. It in fact cheapens the definition.

To paraphrase our most recent former governor, at the end of the day, no one—and I do mean NO ONE, without exception—contributes to a political campaign in the amounts doled out by the Kochs and their ilk, without expecting something in return. That something is always personal enrichment.

So, before you base your decision on a candidate based on the half-truths and outright lies of TV political ads, check to see who gets what in the form of CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS.

Make your decision an intelligent one, not one based on looks or sound bites. Like anything else worthwhile, it takes a little work to do it right.

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He probably won’t make the formal announcement of his candidacy for governor until September or October, but make no mistake about it, U.S. Sen. John Kennedy is in full campaign mode. If there had been in lingering doubts before, that much was made evident Wednesday by his inappropriate yet totally predictable CALL for Robert Mueller to end his investigation of the man on whose coattails Kennedy ran for—and won—his senate seat.

This was more than Kennedy’s typical down-home, cornball, Will Rogers country feed store philosophy that he is so proud to bestow and which TV reporters are so eager to foist upon their viewers. This was pure, old-fashion political sycophancy at its very worst.

Someone recently said the most dangerous place in Washington was to stand between Kennedy and a TV camera but his toadyism is both shabby and shameful in its transparent attempt to please Donald Trump and to cash in on Trump’s inexplicable popularity with Louisiana voters.

Inexplicable because everything—and I mean everything—the man stands for goes against the interests of the most vocal of his supporters. All you have to do to verify that claim is to compare his record with his actions. Instead, his supporters choose to listen to his rants and to read his sophomoric tweets which stand in stark contrast to his official actions behind the scene:

  • Safe drinking water? Who needs it?
  • Consumer protection? Why?
  • The former head of the Bank of Cyprus, a leading conduit for Russian money laundering is now Secretary of Commerce so you do the math.
  • Medical care? Hmph.
  • Employee benefits like pensions and overtime pay? Nah.
  • Net neutrality? Don’t need it, don’t want it, can’t use it (besides, that was an Obama policy so, out it goes).
  • Tax reform? You bet—for the wealthy.
  • Protection of endangered wildlife? Hell, there must be a hundred species of animals out there. That’s way too many.
  • Banking regulations to avoid another recession like we had in 2008? Just signed off on the rollback of Dodd-Frank, thank you very much.
  • The head of EPA is less concerned about protecting the environment than in enriching himself with European vacation trips on your dime and installing $45,000 soundproof phone booths in his office and blaming his staff whenever he gets caught wasting taxpayer funds.

Nixon was a crook, Lyndon Johnson lied us into an unwinnable war that cost 58,000 American lives, Bill Clinton had a basketful of scandals, and George W. Bush lied to us about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, but I daresay Trump is far and above the biggest crook—and the most ill-prepared to be president—who ever occupied the Oval Office. There will be those who will deny that to the death, but it doesn’t change the facts.

And before you call me a wild-eyed liberal or something worse, keep this in mind: I was a Republican longer than a lot of you have been alive. I was a Republican when we could caucus in a telephone booth. But I didn’t leave the party, it left me. It took me a long time, but I finally saw what the Republican Party stood for and it wasn’t for any of the things that I learned from the Bible—things like charity, understanding, kindness, compassion, taking care of the sick, and feeding the hungry. You know, Christian virtues the evangelicals claim to espouse but who instead turn around and condone, encourage even, the most unchristian behavior imaginable. We call that hypocrisy where I come from.

At various times, Trump has:

  • Told us not to the trust the FBI;
  • Told us not to trust the Justice Department;
  • Told us not to trust the free press, and
  • Told us not to trust the courts.

These are the only institutions that can hold him accountable and he is trying to undermine every single one of them. If that doesn’t worry you, it damn well should.

So, in order to appease Trump and his followers in Louisiana, and apparently in order to solidify his support for a gubernatorial run in 2019, Kennedy slobbers all over himself in calling for Mueller to end his investigation “because it distracts in time, energy and taxpayer money.”

And Trump’s governance by tweets is not a distraction? His constant reversals of positions are not a waste of time, energy and taxpayer money?

Trump reminds me of an editorial cartoon I spotted this week:

  • He doesn’t believe the intelligence agencies;
  • He doesn’t support the rule of law;
  • He doesn’t support the special counsel;
  • He doesn’t support the mission of federal regulators;
  • He doesn’t support the right to demonstrate peaceably;
  • He has no concern about the integrity of fair elections;
  • He doesn’t care about the “huddled masses.”

Hell no. He’s a true patriot.

And Kennedy is sucking up to him in grand fashion.

Kennedy, you cited a laundry list of things that need to be done. I seem to remember that when you ran for the senate, there were things you were going to work for. But now it seems you are beginning to “distract in time, energy and taxpayer money” by running for governor when you should be doing your job—kind of like the way you criticized Bobby Jindal for running for president when he should have been tending to his job as governor. You sounded so sensible when you criticized Bobby for not doing his job and yet…

But just for the sake of argument, let’s compare the distraction that you claim the Mueller investigation of one year—one year, John—has become with past INVESTIGATIONS investigations and the presidents. We’ll start with the granddaddy of ‘em all:

  • Watergate (Nixon): 4 years, the resignation of a president and more than 20 indictments/pleas;
  • Michael Deaver perjury charges (Reagan): A shade over three years and one indictment;
  • Iran-Contra (Reagan): six and one-half years and 14 indictments/pleas;
  • Lyn Nofziger improper lobbying (Reagan): About 16 months, two indictments/pleas;
  • Samuel Pierce influence peddling (H.W. Bush): Almost nine years (and he was only in office for four): 18 indictments/pleas;
  • Whitewater/Paula Jones/Monica Lewinski (Clinton): Seven years, 15 indictments/pleas, impeachment of a president (acquitted);
  • Mike Espy gifts (Clinton): Seven years, 13 indictments/pleas;
  • Henry Cisneros perjury charges (Clinton): Nine years, 8 indictments/pleas;
  • Alexis Herman influence-peddling (Clinton): Two years, one indictment/plea;
  • Valerie Plame leaks (George W. Bush): Three years, one indictment/plea;
  • Russia (Trump): One year, John, just ONE YEAR, and more indictments/pleas already than you can count.

In case you weren’t counting, John, that’s four separate investigations costing $80 million during Clinton’s administration. I’m not saying they weren’t warranted because they were. But I don’t recall anyone ever saying those investigations should’ve been shut down.

So, John, why don’t you read up on Will Rogers, do a few more hominy and grits folksy quotes and leave the real work to those charged with doing the job?

Or maybe come up with another ad about drinking weed killer for your gubernatorial campaign.

 

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I’m no economist and I did not stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, so I make no claims to be gifted in predicting the future. After all, I smugly opined on the day that Donald Trump announced his candidacy for the presidency that he would crash and burn within six weeks. He may yet crash and burn but it’s taken a tad longer.

But it doesn’t take a crystal ball to see a repeat of the 2008 financial collapse and when it happens, don’t forget to thank Louisiana’s two senators and four of our six representatives. I mean, Stevie Wonder can see the idiocy of the actions of Congress in rolling back the reforms put in place by the DODD-FRANK rules following the disastrous Great Recession brought on by the recklessness of the banking industry.

The HOUSE voted 258-159 on Tuesday to allow banks with up to $250 billion in assets (that’s roughly eight times the size of Louisiana’s $30 billion budget and our legislators can’t even get a grasp on that) to avoid supervision from the Fed and STRESS TESTS. Under Dodd-Frank, the tougher rules applied to banks with at least $50 billion in assets.

Louisiana House members who voted in favor were Garrett Graves, Mike Johnson, Ralph Abraham, and Steve Scalise. Only Rep. Cedric Richmond voted against the measure while Paramilitary Macho-Man, the Cajun John Wayne, Clay Higgins took a powder and did not vote.

The measure, S-2155, had eased through the SENATE by a 67-31 vote back on March 14 and both Louisiana Sens. Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy voted in favor. Kennedy, who loves to preach about revenue and spending, should know better: he was Louisiana State Treasurer for eight years, from 2000 to 2008. You’d think he might have learned something during that time. Guess not. But what could you expect from someone who thought he had “reduced paperwork for small businesses by 150 percent” during his tenure as Secretary of Revenue?

You can be sure that the banking industry lobbied Congress hard for this. Their lobbyists may well have outnumbered—and outspent—the NRA and perhaps even big oil and big pharma in its efforts to show members the right thing for baseball, apple pie and the American Way. Here is a blurb from the Arkansas Banking Association to its members on Monday, the day before the House vote, for example:

ABA (the American Banking Association) is asking all bankers to make a final grassroots push by calling their representatives and urging them to vote “yes” on S. 2155. ABA and all 52 state bankers’ associations sent letters to the House on Friday urging passage of S. 2155. Take action now.

Here is a copy of the ABA LETTER to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and the letter sent by the state ASSOCIATIONS, including the Louisiana Bankers’ Association.

It’s almost as if the bankers, their lobbyists and their pawns in Congress have had their collective memories erased.

Remember “TOO-BIG-TO-FAIL” or costs of somewhere in the neighborhood of $14 TRILLION (with a “T”) to the U.S. economy the last time banks got a little carried away with their subprime mortgages and insane investments of OPM (other people’s money)? Remember how the runaway train wreck of 2008 darned-near destroyed the economy not just of this country, but the entire GLOBAL ECONOMY?

Remember how Congress had to bail out the incredibly reckless banks and how not a single person ever did jail time for the manner in which greed and more greed took over for sound fiscal judgment?

Remember the run-up to the 2008 collapse? Deregulation? Warren Buffet’s referring to derivatives as “financial weapons of mass destruction” (was anyone listening)? Enron? Worldcom? Countrywide? Merrill Lynch? Wells Fargo’s manipulation of customers’ accounts? Lincoln Savings & Loan? Pacific Gas and Electric? Arthur Anderson? Lehman Brothers? Bear Stearns? AIG? Washington Mutual?

Did anyone learn a damned thing? Judging from the rollback of Dodd-Frank, the answer to that critical question must be a resounding “NO.”

And lest you feel a pang of sympathy for those poor, over-regulated banks, consider this: PROFITS for AMERICAN BANKS during the first quarter of 2018 increased by 28 percent, shattering the prior record set just three quarters earlier.

The “blockbuster earnings report” was attributed to tax cuts implemented by the Trump administration, which should give you a pretty good idea about just who the tax bill was designed to help in the first place.

And here’s something that will give you a warm fuzzy: American banks are sitting on almost $2 trillion of capital that will help them survive the next recession—whether you get through the next downturn or not. That theory that excess capital would be plowed back into the economy just didn’t seem to pan out. Wall Street is counting on the Dodd-Frank deregulation allowing banks to return as much of that surplus cash as $53 billion back to SHAREHOLDERS.

Reinvestment? More jobs? Stimulating the economy? Fuggedaboutit.

It’s all about the shareholders.

Always has been, always will be.

And you can bet the shareholders won’t fuggedaboutit when it comes to chipping into the campaign coffers of those members of Congress who had the good sense to vote to lift the unreasonable burden of overregulation off the poor, struggling banking industry.

But what the hell? I’m not an economist. I’m just one of those purveyors of all that fake news.

 

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If you like political posturing, puffery, bombast, and breast-beating, then the reaction to that LETTER being sent out to 37,000 nursing home patients in Louisiana is tailor-made for political junkies like you.

The letter, sent out by the Louisiana Department of Health, got the desired reaction. CBS Evening News featured the story prominently in its Wednesday newscast, complete with a brief interview with Jim Tucker of Terrytown, operator of about a dozen nursing homes.

It’s interesting that Tucker was sought out for camera face time. He was Bobby Jindal’s Speaker of the House who abetted Jindal for eight years in gutting the state budget of services for the elderly and mentally ill. And now the roll him out in front of the cameras to cry wolf.

The Edwards administration tried to assure us, through Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne and LDH Secretary Dr. Rebekah Gee, that this is not Chicken Little, that the sky really will fall if budget cuts are not restored by July 1, the date that the state is projected to fall over the metaphorical fiscal cliff when $650 million in tax revenue falls off the books.

Typically, the reaction by Republicans in the legislature, the same ones who have steadfastly refused to face fiscal reality since the beginning of the Jindal accident in 2008, was to scream foul to anyone who would listen—and there were plenty who did.

Dr. Gee, of course, did her part, even tearing up as she explained to the TV cameras that hearts “are breaking over the need to do this. We can’t provide services with no money to pay for them.”

Dardenne added his bit, saying, “This letter is scary, but it’s not a tactic. This is the reality that we are facing.”

But House Appropriations Committee Chairman Cameron Henry (R-Metairie) gave the best performance. With a lock of hair hanging down over his forehead a-la the late Bobby Kennedy, he bleated, “This is premature at best, reckless at worst,” adding that the letter was designed “to scare the elderly of this state, and that is an embarrassment.” No, Cameron, you’re an embarrassment.

Ditto for Rep. Lance Harris (R-Alexandria), chairman of the House Republican Delegation, who called the letter an “unnecessary political scare tactic done to intimidate and frighten the most vulnerable people into believing they will be kicked out onto the streets if the governor doesn’t get everything he wants in the form of revenue.”

And Cameron Henry should understand that the legislature as a body is no less an embarrassment to those of us who have been forced to observe its collective ineptitude on a daily basis for 10 years now. To quote my grandfather, they couldn’t find a fart in a paper bag.

Lost in all the rhetoric is the hard fact that the administration might not have found it necessary to send out the letter—regardless whether it’s a scare tactic or reality—had the legislature made any effort to face up to its responsibility to the 4.5 million citizens of this state.

But here’s the real reality—and just remember where you read it:

Not a single nursing home patient is going to be evicted. Not one.

Want to know why?

Money.

And I don’t mean money to be appropriated by the legislature to properly fund state government, nursing homes included.

I’m talking about campaign money.

Lots of it. Tons of it.

Since 2014, individual nursing homes, nursing home owners, and nursing home political action committees have contributed more than $750,000 to Louisiana politicians, primarily legislators. Here is just a partial list of NURSING HOME CONTRIBUTIONS

And that’s just over the past four years.

More than $50,000 was contributed the campaign of Edwards.

Henry, the one who called out the administration for its “scare tactics,” received more than $10,000 since 2014.

Senate President John Alario also received more than $12,000 over the same time span.

Louisiana Public Service Commission member Foster Campbell said on the Jim Engster show on Louisiana Public Radio earlier this week that since he first ran for the legislature more than 40 years ago, the cost of seeking political office has become cost prohibitive. Foster said when he first ran for the State Senate in 1975, he borrowed $7,500 to finance his campaign. “Now, it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars” and the average person who wants to serve cannot afford to do so, he said.

I’ve always wondered why corporations and the wealthy who seem so concerned about “good government” don’t use their money to help others rather than lavish it on politicians. The money they throw at politicians and lobbyists could be put to such more productive use—but they don’t try because they don’t really care about good government. And every now and then, I can’t help wondering why that is.

But I don’t wonder about it long. The answer is obvious: power and influence.

And that’s a sorry commentary on our political system, from the local level all the way to the very top of the political pyramid.

And it’s for that reason that not a single nursing home resident will be evicted. By some miracle, repeated every year, it seems, extra money will be “found” to do what is politically expedient.

Because the money has already been spread around by those who buy influence and legislators.

Remember where you read it.

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