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Archive for the ‘Lobbyist’ Category

Legislators and leaders of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) would do well to pay attention to the rumblings of discontent that began in West Virginia and rolled westward into Kentucky and Oklahoma.

Those same rumblings, though faint and indistinct for now, are being picked up by those in tune with the times.

Louisiana’s public school teachers, a group to whom I owe so very much from a personal perspective and to whom I shall ever remain loyal, are quietly receiving copies of a “Teacher Salary Satisfaction Survey” being distributed by the Louisiana Federation of Teachers (LFT).

It could just as easily be called a “Teacher Salary Dissatisfaction Survey.

The flier opens with the question: “What are you willing to do for a pay raise?” and goes on to note that education funding in Louisiana “has been frozen for the past decade. Our teacher salaries are now about $2,000 below the Southern regional average.”

How can that possibly be? How could we have allowed ourselves to neglect the most dedicated, the most heroic among us for so very long?

We gave state police huge salary increases and while I don’t begrudge their pay increases, they certainly should not have come at the expense of teacher salaries.

Teachers should never have to bow down at the sacrificial altar of political servitude, yet that is precisely what has happened.

I can still remember that little presidential wannabe Bobby Jindal telling LABI that the only reason some teachers are still in the classroom was by virtue of their being able to breathe. That was just before Sandy Hook when a teacher stood between a gunman and a student and took a bullet that ended her breathing ability but which allowed a child to go on living.

I still remember teachers at Ruston High School taking an interest in the well-concealed abilities of a poverty-stricken, less-than-mediocre student and nurturing and cultivating those latent talents into eventual college material and a career in journalism. They didn’t have to do that; they could have let him slip through the cracks. But they didn’t. Thanks, Mrs. Garrett, Miss Lewis, Miss Hinton, Mr. Ryland, Coach Perkins, Mr. Peoples, Mr. Barnes. Thanks so very much. You never knew (or maybe you did) what your compassion meant to that kid.

“Another budget crisis is looming, and yet our legislature has taken no steps to avert it,” the flier says.

True. So true. The legislature has taken no steps because legislators, for the most part, are in bed with the special interests who are slowly bleeding this state to death with overly-generous tax breaks even as benefits are being ripped from our citizens. Benefits like health care, education, decent roads and bridges, flood control, the environment—benefits that we rely on our elected officials to provide.

Oh, but they haven’t forgotten the tax breaks for the Saints, the Pelicans, the Walmarts, the Exxons, the Dow Chemicals, pharmaceuticals, the movie industry, the utilities, the banks and payday loan companies, the nursing homes, the private prisons, the Koch brothers, the Grover Norquists, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), or chicken-plucking plants.

But teachers? Nope. They don’t need raises. Besides, we have virtual academies and charter schools, so who needs public education?

“In some states,” the flier reads, “teachers and school employees have acted to demand pay raises and better funding for schools. Actions in West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kentucky had positive results for educators.”

LABI, of course, would beg to differ. After all, LABI was created back in the 1970s for the express purpose of destroying labor unions in Louisiana through passage of the right to work law. I got that straight from the mouth of Ed Steimel, one of the moving forces for the creation of LABI, shortly before his death.

But let’s back up a minute and pause for reflection before you try to label me as some ranting liberal or even worse, a (gasp) communist.

Do you approve of:

  • Your annual two-week (or whatever the length of time) vacation?
  • How about the eight-hour work day?
  • The 40-hour work week?
  • Overtime?
  • Retirement?
  • Minimum wage?
  • Health benefits?
  • The abolition of sweat shops where children as young as seven or eight are required to work 12- or 14-hour days for pennies?
  • Workplace safety reforms that have drastically reduced injuries and deaths at work?
  • Sanitation laws that have cleaned up the meatpacking industry?

Well, gee, if you approve of all that, you must be a ranting liberal yourself. Or worse, a (nah, better not say it).

But just who do you think brought about those reforms? It certainly wasn’t management. Okay, the guvmint was largely responsible for the meatpacking industry reforms but for the rest, you can tip your hat to organized labor.

“Please complete the Teacher Salary Satisfaction Survey,” the flier reads. “Let the Louisiana Federation of Teachers know what you think about salaries in our state, and what you think will help correct the situation.”

The second page is an authorization form requesting the local school board (in this case, Livingston Parish) to deduct dues for the LFT.

Legislators and LABI are being taken to class here and they’d be wise to pay attention lest they get a failing grade.

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In case you’ve ever taken the time to wonder why our legislature has been unable—or unwilling—to effective address the looming fiscal crisis for the state, here’s a quick lesson in civics that may help you understand the real priorities of our elected officials and the forces that motivate them.

Members of Congress are advised to spend four hours per day FUNDRAISING, or on “call time.” That’s time to be spent on the telephone raising campaign contributions—if they want to be re-elected.

They are also told they should spend one to two hours on “constituent visits,” which often translates to meeting with lobbyists and campaign contributors. That leaves two hours for committee meetings and floor attendance, one hour for something called “strategic outreach,” or breakfasts, meet and greets, press interviews (read: Sen. John Kennedy), and one hour “recharge time.”

It doesn’t take a mathematician to see that we’re paying big salaries for these guys to actually work only about two hours per day for only part of the year.

Another way of putting it is we’re paying big bucks for them to spend twice as much time raising campaign contributions as actually doing the work of the people who, in theory at least, elected them.

That’s in theory only, of course. The truth is special interests such as banks, hedge funds, big oil, big pharma, the military-industrial complex, the NRA, and other major corporate interests—especially since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision—turn the gears of democracy while letting the American middle class delude itself into thinking we actually affect the outcome of elections.

Now, take that image and move it down to the state level and you have a microcosm of Congress.

The numbers are smaller, of course, given the smaller House and Senate districts from which candidates run but the model is the same.

And that is precisely the reason nothing gets done in regard to resolving the financial plight of the state.

Corporate tax breaks, tax exemptions, and tax credits have eroded the state budget until the onus now falls on the individual taxpayers while companies like Walmart enjoy Enterprise Zone tax credits for locating stores in upscale communities across the state.

Petro-chemical plans along the Mississippi River and in the southwestern part of the state enjoy millions of dollars in tax breaks for construction projects that produce few, if any, new permanent jobs.

And who is front and center in protecting the interests of these corporations?

That would be the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI), first created with the intent of breaking the stranglehold of organized labor back in the 1970s and now focused on maintaining lucrative tax incentives for its membership.

LABI has four primary political action committees: East PAC, West PAC, North PAC, and South PAC.

LouisianaVoice has pulled the contributions of LABI, its four PACs.

For lagniappe, we’ve also thrown in contributions from pharmaceutical and oil and gas interests. The latter list offers a clear-cut explanation of why efforts to hold oil and gas companies accountable for damage to Louisiana’s coastal marshland have died early deaths.

You will notice in reviewing the reports that LABI, while making individual contributions, pours most of its money into its four PACs, which then make the direct contributions to the candidates.

Enjoy.

LABI CONTRIBUTIONS

EAST PAC CONTRIBUTIONS

WEST PAC CONTRIBUTIONS

NORTH PAC CONTRIBUTIONS

SOUTH PAC CONTRIBUTIONS

PHARMA CONTRIBUTIONS

OIL AND GAS CONTRIBUTIONS

 

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If there was any lingering doubt as to the political stroke of the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association, one need only watch House Bill 218 do its imitation of Sherman’s March to the Sea.

The bill, authored by State. Rep. Katrina Jackson (D-Monroe) and which gives Louisiana’s sheriffs a 7 percent pay raise, has already sailed through the House with a convincing VOTE of 79-9 with the remaining 16 managing to skip out on the vote.

It now moves on to the Senate Judiciary B Committee where it will be rubber stamped before going to the Senate floor where it is virtually assured of a similarly overwhelming majority approval as it enjoyed in the House.

In the interest of full disclosure, it should be pointed out that neither the sheriffs’ current salaries nor the proposed increase will come from state funds. All sheriffs’ salaries come from their individual budgets but any raises must be approved by the legislature.

But that doesn’t change the fact that sheriffs are among the highest paid public officials in the state. There is not a single sheriff among the 64 parishes who does not make significantly more than the governor of the gret stet of Looziana.

LouisianaVoice painstakingly perused the latest audit reports for every sheriff in the state and found some interesting numbers that might make even the most ardent law and order advocate blanch a little.

Base salaries for sheriffs range from $105,279 for Assumption Parish Sheriff Leland Falcon to $179,227 for East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux but benefits can—and do—kick the bottom line up significantly.

Several small rural parishes are especially generous to their sheriffs when it comes to chipping in extras.

Take John Ballance of Bienville Parish, for example. Ballance, by the way, is a retired State Trooper drawing a pretty hefty pension from the state. His base salary is $144,904 but he gets an additional $82,607 in benefits that bump his overall pay to $227,511. Among his perks are a $14,504 expense allowance, $10,957 in insurance premiums, $41,207 in retirement contributions and—get this: $13,295 in membership dues for the sheriffs’ association. He has the third highest total in benefits in the state. Bonnie and Clyde, who met their demise in Bienville Parish back in 1934, should have made out so well.

Dusty Gates, the sheriff of Union Parish, pulls down $144,938 in base pay but gets an additional $83,652 in benefits (highest in the state), including $13,766 in sheriffs’ association membership dues (it ain’t cheap being a member of the most powerful lobbyist organization in the state).

Gerald Turlich of Plaquemines Parish comes in second in benefits with $83,530 tacked onto his $159,540 base pay—and he doesn’t even get any membership dues. His perks include $36,825 in insurance and $41,038 in retirement.

Nineteen individual sheriffs currently make $225,000 per year or more after benefits are included—and that’s before the proposed increase.

The top ten overall compensation packages, in order, are:

  • Turlich (Plaquemines): $243,070;
  • Tony Mancuso (Calcasieu): $237,080;
  • Ron Johnson (Cameron): $233,556;
  • Mike Stone (Lincoln); $232,785;
  • Craig Webre (Lafourche): $231,413;
  • Julian Whittington (Bossier): $231,100;
  • Andrew Brown (Jackson): $230,739;
  • Rodney Arbuckle (DeSoto): $230,566 (Arbuckle resigned on March 16);
  • Willy Martin (St. James): $229,951;
  • Ricky Moses (Beauregard): $229,098.

Conversely, only seven sheriffs earned less than $190,000 per year after benefits were included. They included:

  • Falcon (Assumption): $153,637;
  • Sam Craft (Vernon): $171,615;
  • Randy Smith (St. Tammany): $177,367;
  • Eddie Soileau (Evangeline): $180,766;
  • James Pohlmann (St. Bernard): $184,057;
  • Ronald Theriot (St. Martin): $188,003;
  • Toney Edwards (Catahoula): $188,751.

Base salaries are determined by the legislature, according to St. Landry Parish Sheriff Bobby Guidroz.

Twenty-four sheriffs have base salaries of $159,540. A 7 percent increase will add $11,167, boosting their base pay to $170,707 before the addition of benefits

Gautreaux’s East Baton Rouge Parish base pay of $179,277 will jump by $12,549, giving him a new base pay of $191826.

Here is a list of all the SHERIFFS’ SALARIES, including base pay and total compensation.

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As I listen all the gun rights advocates voicing support of the sacred Second Amendment, I find myself wondering how we have reached a point where their noise is allowed to drown out the pleas for common sense gun laws, i.e. bans on assault weapons, bump stocks, thorough background checks, etc.

The NRA, with its lobbying prowess and its purchase of members of Congress, has taken over the debate and its sycophants are lined up to chant a-la the Stepford Wives the gospel of the rights of the gun owners, supposedly represented by sportsmen who go out in search of big game in order to put meat on the family table.

All too often, however, the true sentiment is more accurate expressed in more realistic terms:

For a clearer image of this decal, I pulled this from an online website:

When, in the wake of the Parkland shootings that left 17 dead, Donald Trump incredulously said we should “take the guns first, go through due process second,” (something even the most diehard advocate of gun control has never said), his conservative BASE went into a state akin to apoplexy, and rightly so.

Of course, to paraphrase Mark Twain’s comment about New England weather, if you don’t like what comes out of Trump’s mouth, you need only wait a couple of minutes because his position is certain to change. There appears to be no limits to his imbecilic utterances and actions.

Yes, the Second Amendment clearly says, “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

There’s no debate about the wording but there is nothing in that that says we have an unlimited right to any and all types of arms. In fact, when the Second Amendment was adopted, there were no such things as assault weapons, grenades, land mines, tanks, missiles.

But no one—NO ONE—would argue to take away your rifle, your double-barrel shotgun, or your Colt 45 six-shooter. So, let’s clear the air of that silly argument.

But while gun rights advocates hold up the Second Amendment as the holy grail of the Spirit of Freedom and the American Way, there’s another amendment those same people seem to conveniently overlook:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

What we have instead is a growing chorus of “fake news” echoed by the Trump base because, like Trump, their vocabularies are so painfully limited and their intellect, like their dear leader’s, so mired in simple banalities that they can only parrot his talking points—talking points that, it turns out, were field tested by an outfit called CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA.

How’s that for irony: cries of fake news prompted by a foreign company that coined the phrase?

But never mind all that: the term fake news has been so popularized by Trump that it’s caught on with such LUMINARIES as Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, the Chinese state media, the Russian foreign ministry, Spanish foreign minister Alfonso Dastis, and others of similar stripe.

Now we even have politicians trying to turn the phrase into attempts at CENSORSHIP, a movement every bit as dangerous as any perceived threat to gun ownership.

Had there been censorship;

  • Meat packing plants would still be turning out diseased meat for our ingestion.
  • The Teapot Dome scandal might never have come to light.
  • Sweatshops where children and women slaved away for 14 hours a day might still flourish—in factories with locked doors so workers would be unable escape in case of fire.
  • Worker safety in any form, in fact, might be non-existent.
  • Minimum wage might still be pennies per hour—with no benefits.
  • Automobile safety? Who needs that? Who could even afford an automobile?
  • Without freedom of the press, Tammany Hall and Boss Tweed may never have been reined in.
  • Nixon would’ve gotten away with his crimes.
  • We might still be losing American lives in a place called Vietnam were it not for writers like the late David Halberstam. (In fact, it was the failure of the press to follow up on the lies of the Johnson Administration that allowed the so-called Gulf of Tonkin incident propel us into an unprecedented escalation of that war.)
  • The Pentagon Papers would never have come to light.
  • McClure’s Magazine could never have exposed illegal practices by the railroads or by Standard Oil.
  • Inhumane treatment of the mentally ill would have remained a dark secret.
  • Seymour Hersh might never have revealed illegal CIA spying on Americans—in America because of press freedom.

There are many, many other examples—far too many to list here—that illustrate how a free press has contributed to the well-being of Americans. So, to all you out there who have obediently latched on to the FAKE NEWS term as your rallying cry, you’re in good company. You should be proud of yourselves for being able to think for yourself and for being able to express your individuality in the same way as the rest of the Trumpettes—just like Cambridge Analytica intended.

But it remains a mystery to me how 35 percent of the people in the most advanced nation on the face of the earth can remain so inconsistent in supporting one amendment to the Bill of Rights, a doctrine you have elevated to sacred status, while at the same time belittling another of those same amendments.

You can’t have it both ways. I’ll repeat that: You can’t have it both ways. Either the Bill of Rights is the basis of freedom in this country or it’s not. If you support one, you must support them all. It’s a package deal.

Yet we have ELECTED OFFICIALS taking up the call of fake news any time there’s a news story with which they do not agree or that puts them in a bad light.

We are not perfect in the press, far from it. In fact, I recently misinterpreted the intent of a bill by State Sen. Dan Claitor and pilloried him for it when in fact, I should have been praising him. I thought his bill was a serious attempt at mandating retirement of all elected officials at age 70 when in fact, he was trying to show the hypocrisy of the law requiring that all judges retire at 70.

But despite our occasional shortcomings, FREEDOM OF THE PRESS is every bit as important to the ability of Americans to remain free as the freedom to bear arms. Period.

If you can’t agree with that, you are a hypocrite in every sense of the word.

The worst kind of hypocrite, in fact, because you’re lying to yourself.

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When Ronald Reagan wanted to push a bill through a recalcitrant House ruled by Democratic Speaker Tip O’Neill (as bad as he was, O’Neill was still head and shoulders above current Speaker Paul Ryan in terms of leadership and ability), he would go on national television and appeal directly to the American voters.

Gov. John Bel Edwards should have taken his cue from the Gipper. Instead of taking to the TV airwaves to make his case directly to Louisiana citizens, he has chosen to go it alone against an obstinate, arrogate, no-solutions-to-offer Republican legislature who, to quote my grandfather (and I’m cleaning it up a bit) wouldn’t urinate on him if he were on fire.

But while Edwards has not displayed the leadership one would expect of a West Point graduate, neither has this Jell-O-backboned legislature done anything to warrant any bouquets. The word obstructionism comes to mind immediately as a one-word description of this bunch.

There is not a shred of doubt that Republican legislators are still taking their cue from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and Grover Norquist. Remember in 2015, when 11 legislators WROTE to Norquist to obtain his permission to vote for Jindal’s tax swap?

Since when does Grover Norquist speak for the voters of Louisiana?

But, believe it or not, this rant isn’t about the legislator’s ability to waste some $900,000 on a special session that failed to produce a solution to the looming state financial disaster. Retired State Budget Director Stephen Winham covered that in yesterday’s post.

Instead, in a classic illustration of how to violate journalistic practices by burying the lede this deep in the story, this is about legislators’ real priorities while in Baton Rouge at the governor’s call to do something—anything—to avert the fiscal cliff that awaits next June.

Citizens routinely flock to Baton Rouge during legislative sessions to testify before committees on their positions on various issues. If you’ve ever sat in on any of these committee meetings, it’s apparent that legislators are just going through the motions of pretending to listen to the voice of the people. In reality, they converse among themselves during citizens’ testimonies, walk out of the committee room to take a phone call, or generally get that patently political glazed look as they wait for the testimony to end so that the committee can proceed with its predetermined vote.

The real reason many legislators were in Baton Rouge for this session was not to tend to the people’s business but to line their own pockets, or more precisely, their campaign treasuries.

Beginning on Jan. 31, and continuing through the special session which began on Feb. 19 and until March 12 (one week from today), 41 campaign fundraisers for 46 legislators were scheduled by lobbyists, including the Beer Industry League, the Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA), the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association (LOGA), and Southern Strategy Group in such partying-hardy locations (where the real legislative work gets done) as:

  • The Longview House, the former home of Mrs. Earl K. Long, now housing the offices of Haynie & Associates;
  • The Jimmie Davis House, which houses the offices of CeCe Richter and the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association;
  • The Louisiana Restaurant Association House (LRA: recently purchased near the State Capitol);
  • Beer Industry League offices.

One of those, on March 8 (Thursday), for State Sen. Eric LaFleur, will feature an appearance by Gov. Edwards. Of course, the Beer Industry League keeps legislators plied with alcohol at each of these locations, thus insuring their undying loyalty when key votes come up.

It’s uncertain if the suggested contribution amounts reflect the legislator’s relative worth to the organization, but following is the schedule of fundraisers hosted by the various lobbyists:

  • 30: Longview (1465 Ted Dunham Ave.) Fundraiser for Senator John Milkovich ($500 suggested contribution);
  • 31: Beer Industry League Fundraiser for Rep. Robby Carter ($250 suggested contribution);
  • 31: Jimmie Davis House (1331 Lakeridge Dr.) Fundraiser for Rep. Clay Schexnayder ($500 Contribution);
  • 31: Longview Fundraiser for Rep. Joseph Stagni ($250 suggested contribution);
  • 31: Jimmie Davis House Fundraiser for Rep. Tanner Magee ($250 contribution);
  • 5: 18 Beer Industry League Fundraiser for Rep Frankie Howard ($250 suggested contribution);
  • 5: Jimmie Davis House Fundraiser for Senator Rick Ward ($500 contribution);
  • 6: Longview Fundraiser for Rep Scott Simon ($250 suggested contribution);
  • 7: Jimmie Davis House Fundraiser for Rep Blake Miguez ($250-500 contribution);
  • 7: LRA House (Louisiana Restaurant Association – which recently got a nice place right by the capitol at 1312 Ted Dunham Ave. to host fundraisers) Fundraiser for Rep Stephen Carter ($500 contribution);
  • 7: LRA House Fundraiser for Rep Thomas Carmody ($500 contribution);
  • 7: Jimmie Davis House Fundraiser for Senate President John Alario, Jr. and Speaker of the House Taylor Barras ($500 contribution—Can’t wait to see how much this one brought in);
  • 15: Longview Fundraiser for Senators Page Cortez & Jonathan Perry ($500 contribution);
  • 19 (Opening day of special session): Beer Industry League Fundraiser for Senator Greg Tarver (suggested contribution up to $2,500—nothing cheap about Tarver, including his price);
  • 19: Longview Fundraiser for Reps Patrick Connick, Kevin Pearson, & Polly Thomas ($250 suggested contribution)
  • 19: Longview Fundraiser for Rep Sam Jenkins ($250 suggested contribution);
  • 20: The Lobdell House (711 N. 6th St) Fundraiser for Rep Frank Hoffman ($500 suggested contribution);
  • 20: LRA House Fundraiser for Senators Ronnie Johns and Dan Morrish ($500 contribution);
  • 21: Beer Industry League Fundraiser for Rep Kenny Havard ($500 contribution);
  • 21: Longview Fundraiser for Rep John Stefanski ($250 suggested contribution);
  • 22: Beer Industry League Fundraiser for Senator Jay Luneau ($500 suggested contribution);
  • 22: LRA House Fundraiser for Rep Chris Leopold ($250 contribution);
  • 22: LRA House Fundraiser for Senator Sharon Hewitt ($500 contribution);
  • 22: Longview Fundraiser for Senator Karen Carter Peterson ($500 contribution—She’s the largely ineffective chairperson of the State Democratic Party);
  • 22: Jimmie Davis House Fundraiser for Rep Gary Carter ($250 suggested contribution);
  • 23: Longview Fundraiser for Rep Ryan Gatti ($500 suggested contribution);
  • 27: LRA House Fundraiser for Senator Dale Erdey ($500 contribution);
  • 28: Beer Industry League Fundraiser for Senator Dan Claitor and Rep Franklin Foil ($500 suggested contribution);
  • 28: LRA House Fundraiser for Rep Rick Edmonds ($500 contribution);
  • 28: Jimmie Davis House Fundraiser for Rep Nancy Landry ($500 contribution)
  • 28: Southern Strategy Group of LA Fundraiser for Senator Ed Price ($500 contribution);
  • 1: Beer Industry League Fundraiser for Rep Rodney Lyons ($250 to $2,500 suggested contribution);
  • 1: Jimmie Davis House Fundraiser for Rep Alan Seabaugh (attendee $250, Host Committee $1000, Supporter of Seabaugh $2500);
  • 6: Beer Industry League Fundraiser for Senator Troy Carter ($500 to $2,500 contribution—another big-ticket legislator);
  • 6: Southern Strategy Group Fundraiser for Rep Denise Marcell ($250 suggested contribution);
  • 7: Beer Industry League Fundraiser for Senator Troy Carter ($500 suggested contribution) (Two days in a row for this Senator! A double-dipper! His relationship with the ATC Commissioner must be very important to this group);
  • 8: Beer Industry League Fundraiser for Senator Eric LaFleur with Special Guest LA Governor John Bel Edwards ($500 contribution)
  • 8: Longview Fundraiser for Senator Regina Barrow ($500 suggested contribution)
  • 9: Beer Industry League Fundraiser for Senator Norby Chabert and Rep Stuart Bishop ($500 suggested contribution);
  • 9: Longview Fundraiser for Rep Ray Garofalo ($250 contribution);
  • 12: Jimmie Davis House Fundraiser for Rep Patrick Jefferson ($250 – 2,500 suggested contribution).

Twenty-eight state place RESTRICTIONS on campaign CONTRIBUTIONS and Louisiana is one of those—theoretically.

Louisiana Revised Statute 24:56 addresses PROHIBITED ACTIVITY.

Louisiana RS 18:1505.2 Q(b) also says: “No legislator or any principal or subsidiary committee of a legislator shall accept or deposit a contribution, loan, or transfer of funds or accept and use any in-kind contribution, as defined in this Chapter, for his own campaign during a regular legislative session.”

So, yes, there are restrictions against legislators soliciting or accepting campaign contributions during legislative sessions, but a close look at the wording gives lawmakers—the ones who write the laws—a loophole you could drive a truck through.

And that loophole is the words “regular legislative session.” The fiasco that ended on Monday was not a regular session but a special session. In fact, it was the fifth special session called to deal with the state’s fiscal condition, all of which failed to do so.

But campaign contributions are another matter. Where legislators are unable/unwilling to fix the state’s fiscal problems, they certainly see to their own financial well-being. And if they can do so while on the taxpayer clock for $156 per diem (Latin: per day) and mileage payments to and from Baton Rouge, so much the better. Church Lady from Saturday Night Live had a term for that: “Isn’t that special.” (Pun intended).

One observer said, “It’s almost insulting that they (legislators) even waste our time and money on these hours-long committee meetings where they are supposed to be considering the voice of the people who take time away from their jobs and families with the naïve perception that their voices actually matter when it is abundantly clear that decisions are controlled and bought by a small group of power associations. Just watch the process unfold. These groups will prevail I their positions no matter how many logical facts and explanations are presented by the other side (and often when the prevailing associations have absolutely no logical facts or explanations).”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

 

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