Archive for the ‘House, Senate’ Category

“If I closed my mind when I saw this man in the dust throwing some bones on the ground, semi-clothed, if I had closed him off and just said, ‘That’s not science, I am not going to see this doctor,’ I would have shut off a very good experience for myself and actually would not have discovered some things that he told me that I had to do when I got home to see my doctor.”

—State Sen. Elbert Guillory (R/D/R-Opelousas), defending Louisiana’s Science Education Act, the 2008 law that allows creationism to be taught in public school science classrooms during a Senate Education Committee hearing last May. 


Read Full Post »

State Sen. Elbert Guillory is the first to make it official that he is a candidate for lieutenant governor for 2015 but not before he changed his party affiliation—a second time within a span of seven years—to fit what he must consider to be the state’s demographic profile the same way he changed the first time to fit the St. Landry Parish demographic profile.

Besides his chameleon-like political persona, Guillory is an object of some interest in a couple of other ways, including his abruptly leaving his post with the Seattle Human Rights Department under a cloud, a reprimand by the state attorney disciplinary board and the expenditure of his campaign funds in payments to apparent family members.

Seven separate payments totaling $10,000 were paid in 2009 and 2010 to Yvonne Guillory of Opelousas who happens to be Guillory’s ex-wife. Another payment of $1,000 was made in 2007 to Marie Guillory of the same address as Yvonne Guillory.

Another $2,500 payment was made in August of 2011 to Guillory Window Tinting of Eunice for campaign vehicle signs.

It is his repeated brushes with ethics problems, however, that might be Guillory’s biggest obstacle to being elected to statewide office.

A story in the Dec 31, 1981, Seattle Post-Intelligencer noted that Guillory had dropped out of sight and his office had no word of his whereabouts after it was learned he was under investigation for ethics violations.

After only a little more than a year on the job as director of the Seattle Human Rights Department, Guillory was suspended without pay and subsequently resigned after being charged with five counts of violating the city’s ethics code.

Among the things the investigation found that Guillory had done:

  • Awarded a $9,999 contract (one dollar below the $10,000 threshold requiring contracts to be publically bid) to the Seattle firm of LombardSyferd Communications. One of the partners in the firm, Mona Gayton, signed off on payment for contract work that was never done. She and Guillory took out a marriage license on Nov. 23, 1981 and they were later married.
  • Billed the city for two weeks’ work while he was on his honeymoon in Tahiti (even though he had no accumulated vacation time);
  • Allowed an employee to bill the city for time spent driving Guillory’s car cross-country from his former residence in Baltimore;
  • Hired two friends from Baltimore to teach seminars to his human rights staff at $500 per day plus expenses.

Guillory later claimed he had compensatory time coming even though he was told he was not eligible for vacation. He said the employee who drove his vehicle from Baltimore on work time was attending a conference, though he did not say where the conference was.

He also said he had made Seattle Mayor Charles Royer aware of the potential conflict with the contract to his girlfriend but Guillory later resigned before the official ethics hearing could be held, saying he thought Royer would protect him but instead, turned his back on Guillory.

He later moved back home to Opelousas and in 2002, he was reprimanded by the Louisiana attorney Disciplinary Board for notarizing a succession document for his client, former Opelousas Police Chief Larry Caillier. It turned out there was a minor problem: some of the signatures on the document had apparently been forged.

Guillory admitted he was mistaken in relying on the word of his client that the signatures were valid.

Mistaken? Really? In that case, I have a title to the Atchafalaya Basin I’d like him to notarize.

He also served on the Republican state central committee until 2007, when he ran for and was elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives. Just in time for the election, he coincidentally—or conveniently—switched to the Democratic Party in heavily Democratic St. Landry Parish, explaining that fundamental differences with the Bush administration precipitated his move.

Two years later he was elected to the Senate in a special election to fill an unexpired term. As state senator, Guillory served as Chairman of the Senate Retirement Committee and authored the Senate versions of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s ill-fated sweeping retirement reform bills, all of which eventually either failed in the legislature or were ruled unconstitutional by the courts.

He also raised a few eyebrows earlier this year when he shared his experience with a witch doctor he visited and cited that experience as a bewildering, convoluted defense of the Louisiana Science Education Act, the law that allows creationism to be taught in public school science classrooms through the use of materials that critique evolution.

Guillory explained last May that he would not wish to dismiss faith healing as a pseudoscience because of his encounter with a half-naked witch doctor who used bones in his healing ceremony.

Later that same month, not yet halfway through his first full term in the State Senate as a Democrat, he made the switch back to Republican, becoming the state’s first black Republican legislator since Reconstruction. He explained that he had come to disagree with the direction of the Louisiana Democratic Party. Specifically, he said he took issue with the Democrats’ positions on abortion, the Second Amendment, education and immigration.

Well, guess what? neither the national and Louisiana Democratic parties had altered their positions on those issues since 2007 when he pulled his first switcheroo from Republican to Democrat. So his reasoning for morphing back doesn’t quite pass the smell test.

Then earlier this month, on Dec. 12, 2013, he made the formal announcement that he was a candidate for lieutenant governor because, he said, it provides the best opportunity for him to help more Louisianians.

And of course, The Hayride couldn’t wait to endorse him. http://thehayride.com/2013/12/elbert-guillory-is-running-for-lt-governor-and-he-has-our-endorsement/

His announcement goes a long way in explaining why he suddenly decided he was again a Republican in a lopsidedly crimson state.

Another coincidence? How about political expedience and half-naked, unabashed opportunism?

Read Full Post »

The Daily Kingfish blog http://dailykingfish.com/tag/superpac/, with an inadvertent assist from the Baton Rouge Advocate, http://theadvocate.com/columnists/6061634-55/around-washington-for-monday-may has given us an interesting angle on the new Super PAC set up on U.S. Sen. David Vitter’s behalf which conceivably could bring him some problems with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC).

LouisianaVoice also has come across an interesting bit of speculation beginning to make its way through the rumor mill that involves a possible Vitter run for governor.

It’s a tangled web that started with a demand by Washington attorney Charles Spies that the Louisiana Board of Ethics should fall in line with the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision that removed the limits that may be contributed to Super PACs.

Spies chairs the Fund for Louisiana (FFL), the Super PAC set up to help Vitter with either a run for governor in 2015 or for re-election to the Senate in 2016.

Spies, also co-founder of Restore Our Future PAC for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, said in his filing with the Louisiana ethics board that if the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion abolishing the contributions to Super PACs is not granted and it is later determined by the courts that the state’s $100,000 limit “impermissibly infringe on constitutional rights, Fund for Louisiana’s Future will have suffered irreparable harm” and that “FFL’s political speech—and the political speech of others like it—is being burdened and chilled.”

But The Daily Kingfish noted that while Spies is the mover and shaker behind the effort to remove the state’s contribution cap, the Louisiana address for FFL is 6048 Marshall Foch Street in the Lakeview area of New Orleans.

That’s the address at the bottom of FFL’s web page and it just happens to be the home of Bill Callihan, a director at Capital One Bank.

Okay, nothing wrong with this picture so far.

Vitter is prohibited by federal election rules from coordinating for the Super PAC and does not personally participate in fundraising activities.

Again, nothing wrong so far.

FFL has scheduled its Louisiana Bayou Weekend for Sept. 5-7, 2014 with Vitter as “special guest.” Invitees will have the opportunity to participate in Cajun cooking, an airboat swamp tour and an alligator hunt.

While Vitter can appear at the Super PAC event, he is prohibited from soliciting contributions.

And this is where the picture becomes somewhat muddled.

Courtney Guastella Callihan—Callihan’s wife—is listed on invitations as the contact person for the Bayou Weekend.

She also served as Vitter’s campaign financial director, a dual role that blurs the distinction between her function with the Super PAC and Vitter’s Senate campaign.

Citizens United legalized independent groups raising unlimited funds but it did not legalize politicians establishing dummy organizations to evade campaign finance laws.

So the question now becomes is Courtney Callihan on the payroll of both Vitter’s Senate campaign committee and FFL?

If so, that could conceivably bring real legal problems with the FEC.

Now, having said all that, here is a real zinger we came across in the rumor mill. Mind you, everything is speculation at this point, but the report appears to have a certain validity that warrants a mention here.

Even if it proves to be untrue, it’s still interesting to speculate.

It is no secret that Jindal and Vitter are not the best of friends. Jindal even refused to endorse Vitter in his re-election campaign three years ago even though Vitter, in an apparent effort to be the better man (that being a relative term), did endorse Jindal for re-election the following year.

But it is also true that politics makes for strange bedfellows and this would rate right up there with the most bizarre of them all.

Should Vitter be elected governor in 2015, he would take office in January of 2016 with still a year left on his Senate term.

He would have to vacate his Senate seat, of course, and as governor would name his successor.

Sources say that the two have buried the hatchet and talk already has Jindal moving into the Senate office for the duration of Vitter’s term, thus providing him a stepping stone, so to speak, for his anticipated longshot run for the GOP presidential nomination. (should we have bold-faced, capitalized, underlined and italicized longshot?)

Of course, if Public Service Commissioner and former Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources Scott Angelle should run, that in turn would create a dilemma for Jindal. Would he throw his Protégé under the bus for a shot at a U.S. Senate seat?

Stranger things—including outlandish political marriages—do occur in politics (see JFK/LBJ, 1960).

Read Full Post »

Washington attorney/political fundraiser Charlie Spies wants to make it even easier for those with the financial resources to continue to buy elections in Louisiana to the increasing detriment of the rest of us.

So what else is new?

Spies, chairman of The Fund for Louisiana’s Future (FLF), the Super Pac created earlier this year, says Louisiana should voluntarily remove the $100,000 limit on contributions to political action committees.

As if it weren’t difficult enough already for the average voter to make his voice heard in our legislative halls.

Spies, it should be noted, also served as chairman for the Restore Our Future PAC for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

While the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in its 2010 Citizens United decision that third-party groups may spend unlimited amounts on political campaigns, Louisiana still has a maximum cap on individual contributions to PACs of $100,000 per election cycle.

Spies, with an eye to bankrolling the 2015 governor’s race on behalf of an as-yet unnamed candidate (but most probably U.S. Sen. David Vitter),  has written a letter to the Louisiana Board of Ethics asking the state to conform with what he calls “clear constitutional precedent.”

To quote our friend and Livingston Parish Poet Laureate Billy Wayne Shakespeare, “A skunk by any other name stinks just as bad.”

What Spies and all those PACs that have proliferated since the 2010 Citizens United decision really want is the unfettered ability to buy future elections in Louisiana on a scale unprecedented in the state’s history. That would include not only the governor’s election but in all likelihood other statewide races and key legislative contests as well.

In his letter to the ethics board, Spies said that such limits on political committees that make independent expenditures run afoul of the First Amendment “are unconstitutional on their face and should no longer be enforced by the board.”

He said FLF could suffer “irreparable harm” if the issue is litigated and courts subsequently find that the limits infringe on constitutional rights. He said FLF and others’ political speech is being “burdened and chilled.”

What he doesn’t seem to realize is that in Louisiana, raising the limit isn’t really necessary: Louisiana politicians have historically sold out on the cheap.

In his otherwise persuasive argument (lawyers love to wax eloquent and I like saying that), Spies conveniently ignored how ordinary citizens have their political speech “burdened and chilled” by the ability of super PACs to drown out the voices of the electorate.

A person who gives his hard-earned $50 contribution to a candidate should be heard just as easily as the big donor after the election. But when that person’s interests clash with those of a super PAC that poured $100,000 into the candidate’s campaign, who do you think will get the ear of that elected official?

It’s not as if the $100,000 cap is really enforced in Louisiana. Nor for that matter is the $5,000 on individual contributions particularly sacred. Take Lee Mallett of Iowa, Louisiana, for example. Mallett, a member of the LSU Board of Stuporvisors, has contributed nearly $160,000 to Gov. Bobby Jindal through personal contributions and those of seven of his corporations. And both he and his son each have made four contributions between them, each for the maximum allowable amount of $30,800 to the Republican National Committee. Other LSU board members contribute personally and through spouses, children and their companies to easily circumvent the $5,000 contribution limit.

FLF has already raised more than $700,000, thanks in large part to separate $100,000 contributions by the Chouest family-owned Galliano Marine Services and the Van Meter family-controlled GMAA, LLC. Both families were major contributors to Jindal campaigns.

Here are a few examples of contributions to Gov. Bobby Jindal by the Chouest family and corporations of Galliano since 2003:

  • Chouest Offshore: $5,000;
  • Carol Chouest: $5,000;
  • Damon Chouest: $5,000;
  • Ross Chouest: $7,500;
  • Andrea Chouest: $5,000;
  • Casey Chouest: $5,000;
  • Dionne Chouest: $5,000;
  • Dino Chouest: $5,000;
  • Joan Chouest: $5,000;
  • Carolyn Chouest: $5,000;
  • Gary Chouest: $5,000;
  • Chouest Offshore Services: $5,000;
  • Gary Chouest: $5,000;
  • C-Port: $5,000;
  • C-Port 2: $5,000;
  • Offshore Support Services: $5,000;
  • Martin Holdings: $5,000;
  • Martin Energy Offshore: $5,000;
  • Galliano Marine Services: $5,000;
  • Alpha Marine Service: $5,000;
  • Beta Marine Services: $5,000;
  • Vessel Management: $10,000.

Grand total: $117,500.

Things were only slightly less obscene for the Bollinger family of Lockport and its corporations:

  • Chris Bollinger: $5,000;
  • Bollinger Algiers: $10,000;
  • Bollinger Gretna: $5,000;
  • Bollinger Shipyards: $9,850;
  • Bollinger Calcasieu: $5,000;
  • Charlotte Bollinger: $12,000;
  • Bollinger Fourchon: $5,000;
  • Bollinger LaRose: $6,000;
  • Bollinger Morgan City: $6,000;
  • Donald Bollinger: $1,500;
  • Andrea Bollinger: $1,500;
  • Southern Selections: $1,000;
  • Gulf Crane Services: $4,000;
  • Ocean Marine Contractors: $500.

Grand total: $73,350.

And that doesn’t even include money contributed to Jindal’s wife’s foundation, the Supriya Jindal Foundation for Louisiana’s Children or to Jindal’s Believe in Louisiana nonprofit organization which in reality is a PAC that exists solely for political fundraising.

Nor does it include any other candidates, legislative or congressional, to whom these families—the Malletts, the Chouests and the Bollingers—and their corporate entities may have contributed.

What does all this mean to the average voter?

Quite simply, it means he cannot compete with that kind of money. Period. He does not enjoy the luxury of voting for the candidate of his choice—because he doesn’t have a choice. He really never did.

It is the rare candidate today who can eschew PAC money and win.

The glut of money being poured into PACs is used to buy slick mailers and expensive TV time which tend to drown out the voices of the lesser-financed candidates. Catch the disclaimer at the end of those TV ads or read those mailers closely to see pays for them. The billionaire Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity, for example, pays for all those Mary Landrieu-bashing ads you see on TV these days. Landrieu’s performance, good or bad, is not really the issue; it’s repetition of negativity that counts and only money can buy that.

Even though you may think you are an informed voter, you are so inundated with propaganda from PAC money that your will to resist political rhetoric is beaten down and you end up believing in their candidate because you saw more TV ads saying he was the one who is best qualified to lead the state or nation.

The PAC money drowns out the other candidate who may have great ideas for solving political problems but who can never be heard above the white noise enabled by Citizens United because his campaign war chest is dwarfed by that of the Super PAC.

But it doesn’t matter if he is the better candidate because the money says it doesn’t. PACs long ago purchased the candidates and have since purchased Congress and now Spies and his ilk want to purchase Louisiana (and yes, we know that may be redundant).

To put it in simple mathematical terms that are easy to comprehend, let us say a Super PAC dumps $100,000 into to a candidate’s campaign on behalf of say, the credit card special interests. You happen to like that same candidate so you stretch your financial resources to give him $50.

Long after the election and well after the congressman is ensconced in office, a bill comes up that prohibits credit card companies from charging monthly fees on gift cards, thereby diminishing the value of the cards. As it happens, you received a $100 gift card for your birthday but didn’t get around to using it for a few months. Remember your surprise when you learned it no longer had a value of $100 because of the monthly fees you were charged unbeknownst to you?

Irate, you write your congressman, urging him to support the bill that favors consumers. You may even remind him of your $50 contribution.

But congressmen are busy people. Under the present system, they’re already running for re-election the moment they begin their terms. That Super PAC, remember, gave him $100,000 on behalf of the credit card company. Who do you think gets his ear on this? In this case, the odds are 2,000-1 in favor of Visa.

And that’s the goal of Charlie Spies and The Fund for Louisiana’s Future.

Read Full Post »

Something’s not quite right over at the Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC).

Conflicting dates of employment of an unclassified employee, the awarding of a contract to a vendor whose bid was nearly twice that of two competitors, and appearances on behalf of a state contractor at a Florida convention by a state legislator have flown under the radar until now.

Wes Hataway is Director of the Office of Workers Compensation Administration but the question is just when did he join LWC?

Department of Civil Service records and minutes of the Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council simply do not match up.

Civil Service records indicate that Hataway was hired as an unclassified Assistant Attorney General on Jan. 25, 2010 at $93,600 per year and 13 months later, on Feb. 21, 2011, moved over to LWC as an unclassified Assistant Secretary to then advisory council Chairman Chris Broadwater at an annual salary of $105,000.

Here is what we received from the Department of Civil Service:

“See information below on Wes Hataway. Let me know if you have any questions or need more information.”

Begin Date End Date Agency Job Title Annual Pay Rate
1/25/2010 2/20/2011 Office of the Attorney   General Unclassified Asst Attorney   General 90,000.04 (begin)93,600.26 (end)
2/21/2011 Present LWC-Workforce Support &   Training Unclassified Assistant   Secretary 104,998.40

And indeed, there is a paper trail that appears to support that time frame. A two-page score sheet that evaluated proposals for a fraud detection contract with LWC dated June 22, 2010, includes the signature of Hataway and identifies him as one of the four-member team that evaluated and made recommendations for the contract. It also identifies him as representing the Attorney General’s Office—six months after he was ostensibly named as legal council for the Office of Workers’ Compensation (OWC).

(To enlarge, left click on image):



But another document dated Jan. 28, 2010, casts doubts as to Hataway’s status at LWC.

Minutes of the Jan. 28, 2010, meeting of the Workers’ Compensation Advisory Council contain an entry on the fourth and final page which says, “Director Broadwater introduces newly hired AG attorney, Wes Hataway. Wes will serve as General Counsel, and also work on the prosecution of fraud cases.”


Hataway has since replaced Broadwater as Director of OWC but he regularly consults with Broadwater on pending matters coming before him, according to court documents, according to legal documents.

Broadwater, a Republican from Hammond, was elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives in 2011 but continues to represent workers’ comp insurance companies before the Office of Workers’ Compensation, the agency he once ran.

Broadwater also appeared in a four-minute video at an SAS Institute conference in Orlando, Florida. In that video, he praised the work of the company, which won that 2010 contract with a high bid of nearly $4.3 million.  http://www.allanalytics.com/video.asp?section_id=3427&doc_id=269491#msgs

The three-year contract, which was officially approved on Oct. 7, 2010 retroactive to Aug. 31, 2010, ended last Aug. 30.

The SAS bid was nearly double the bids of IBM and Ultix, each of whom had bids of $2.2 million.

Broadwater, Vice Chairman of the House Labor and Industrial Relations Committee, said in a letter to LouisianaVoice, “My service as vice chair of the Labor & Industrial Relations Committee in no manner alters my duties or the constraints placed upon me under the Code of Governmental Ethics.”

And while claiming that he is prohibited from receiving compensation “from a source other than the legislature for performing my public duties,” he admitted in a legal deposition that he represented insurance clients before OWC and he even admitted that he discussed with Hataway the pending appointment of his former law partner and that he has discussed with Hataway on several occasions matters pending before OWC.

Broadwater also related that Hataway had sought his advice on whether or not he (Hataway) had the authority as director to issue a stay of pending cases without involving the judges to whom the cases were assigned. Broad said in his deposition that he was of the opinion that Hataway did have such power.

Broadwater and Hataway are friends of long standing but that does little to explain why Broadwater would introduce him to council members as a new hire a full year before Civil Service Records and the RFP evaluation and recommendation form reflect any change from his employment status at the Attorney General’s office.

Calling the conflicting dates a clerical error doesn’t fly but then again, it could be just another aspect of the current administration that defies explanation.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »