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Baton Rouge attorney J. Arthur Smith, III, has been named president of a new political action committee (PAC) founded in an attempt to stem the growing trend of economic, religious, gender, racial and healthcare discrimination against American employees.

Stand Up for Workers (SU4W) “was established by people who care about the basic rights of the American worker. We seek to protect the right to a fair and livable wage and benefits; to receive fair and humane treatment in the workplace, including work with dignity; and to have full access to justice, including the right to trial by jury,” according to its web page.

A little background is in order here.

The formation of the new PAC is realistically challenged with overcoming nearly a 50-year head start by big business and business-backed Republican elected officials who, indebted to corporate PACs, have given their tacit approval to the more subtle means of employee discrimination. At the same time, open endorsement has been given the so-called Powell Memorandum of 1971 by then-corporate attorney Lewis Powell, Jr., who shortly after writing his memo, was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Nixon.

The MEMORANDUM, written specifically for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, was entitled “Attack on the American Free Enterprise System” and served as a master plan for conservative business interests to retake America from the so-called New Deal era. It was supposed to have been confidential, but was discovered an published by columnist Jack Anderson following Powell’s appointment to the Supreme Court.

Powell, who had served as corporate attorney and director on the board of Phillip Morris until his appointment to the Supreme Court, was an unabashed champion of the tobacco industry during his term on the court as well as an opponent of reforms to the automobile industry prompted by Ralph Nader’s expose’ Unsafe at Any Speed, which revealed the auto industry’s higher priority on profits than on safety. Powell called Nader the chief antagonist of American business.

The memo, which foreshadowed several of the Powell court’s opinions served as the blueprint for the rise of the American conservative movement and the formation of a spate of right-wing think tanks like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and lobbying organizations and also inspired the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to become more active in the political arena.

Conversely, as the chamber’s and other conservative organization’s influence gained strength in Washington, the political clout of organized labor weakened, further silencing the voice of American workers.

Following is the full press release announcing the formation of SU4W, as well as a link to the organization’s web page:

 

A group of worker advocates from across the nation has announced founding of a specialized political action committee, “Stand Up for Workers” (SU4W), dedicated specifically to the needs and concerns of American workers.  https://standupforworkers.org/    SU4W is a hybrid PAC, comprising both a traditional PAC and a super PAC.

“Despite recent promises of improvements in work life conditions for working Americans, the plight of middle and lower income workers has, if anything, become more dire,” said Baton Rouge attorney J. Arthur “Art” Smith, III, President of SU4W.

Mr. Smith is a 47 year veteran employee-side litigator in Louisiana. He has litigated numerous trials and appeals in labor and employment on behalf of both employees and unions. He is a fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, and has served in numerous positions with the Louisiana Association for Justice, including membership on the Board of Governors, and chair of both its employment and civil rights committees.

SU4W Vice President James Kaster, a Minneapolis, MN attorney, is an experienced trial lawyer who concentrates on representing plaintiffs in employment cases. He is one of only a few plaintiffs’ lawyers who is a member of both the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers and the American College of Trial Lawyers, a group limited to one percent of America’s trial attorneys.  Mr. Kaster has also been a frequent lecturer at continuing legal education seminars and has been active in bar activities, including serving as President of the National Employment Lawyers Association.

“Until now there has been no group specifically dedicated to supporting political candidates committed to sponsoring and voting for legislation aimed at concrete measures that will produce better conditions for the American workers whose labor has formed the backbone of our country’s prosperity,” Mr. Smith said. SU4W will support candidates for all federal offices and will engage in other activities in support of working Americans, such as providing accurate information about candidates, proposed legislation and policies.

Most lower- and middle-income American workers have seen stagnant wages for decades, while executive and professional income has risen astronomically, Smith noted. Efforts to better the lives of workers through measures such as affordable health insurance have been consistently attacked and undermined by the current administration in Washington.

SU4W focuses on three goals:

  • more equitable pay for workers;
  • fair and humane treatment in the workplace, and
  • full access to justice, including trial by jury. Trial rights have been substantially eroded by the advent of arbitration agreements extracted from workers through the threat of not being hired.

SU4W will solicit applications for support from candidates, and will engage in a careful vetting process to ensure that the candidates selected satisfy a clear set of criteria showing they will include support for workers among their top priorities.  SU4W will study recent election returns to identify districts where pro-worker candidates will have the best chance of success.

The need for advocacy on behalf of workers extends beyond the issues of income and access to affordable health care, Smith noted. Incidents of degrading treatment at work, including racial, religious and sexual discrimination, are on the rise, and many employers have failed to prevent  abuse or act against it.

Founding members of SU4W are from California, Colorado, Connecticut, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Texas.  Among its leadership are some of the country’s most prominent attorneys whose legal practices are committed to enforcing employee rights.

For more information about SU4W, to make a donation, or find out how to apply for support, visit the website at https://standupforworkers.org/

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It seems I owe Steve Pylant an apology.

I left him out of my book Louisiana’s Rogue Sheriffs: A Culture of Corruption.

Please know it was an oversight and was never an intentional slight of the former three-term Franklin Parish sheriff and current lame duck state representative.

Please consider this my feeble attempt to atone for that glaring omission.

After all, his voting record in the House was consistently that of a staunch law-and-order, lock-‘em-up-and-throw-away-the-key hard-liner.

Except, of course, when he decided to come to the rescue of four former meth felons caught with weapons in neighboring Catahoula Parish.

In case you may not remember that story I wrote last January, you can read it HERE.

But my reason for bringing him up again is not only to express my contrition for omitting him from the book.

My reason this time concerns a couple of incidents just a couple of months ago which might leave the mistaken impression that Pylant is still the high sheriff—or thinks he is.

Pylant apparently feels he has the right to attempt to enter private property and question occupants without a warrant or even a badge.

In fact, he seems to feel he can even brandish a weapon and force two women driving alone at 10 p.m. to pull over on a darkened Franklin Parish roadway.

April Franks says she and her friend, Amber Conley, were stopped by Pylant and a man named Steve Drane, 50, of Gilbert on the night of Oct. 16. “It was a dark road,” said Franks, who said she believed Pylant, who was waving a gun, was drunk. “[He] grabbed the door window and slammed his pistol against it, telling us we could not leave.”

Drane was one of four convicted felons for whom Pylant secured a $90,000 property bond to spring them from jail in Catahoula Parish in December 2018. Another of those arrested for hunting on private property in Tensas Parish on that occasion was Michael Linder, whose brother, Bryan Linder, was—and still is—an employee of the Franklin Parish Sheriff’s Department.

Each of the four men had prior drug convictions as well as other assorted convictions spread among them and each was armed at the time of the arrests even though convicted felons are prohibited by law from possessing firearms.

None of which deterred Pylant from stepping in to conduct his own traffic stop despite lacking the proper credentials to do so.

“He had no right to pull us over,” Franks said. “He and Steve Drane were sitting in a curve 200 yard from where we pulled out – right past the boat landing they had been watching us from for two hours. He was in the middle of the road waving his hands in the air and was holding a pistol. We had no choice but to stop. Amber, my friend, was driving and thought they must need help …. that was not the case at all. In the video I sent you he (Pylant) is saying he didn’t ‘point the pistol as us I had it in the air.’  He was visibly and audibly drunk that night.”

Franks said she subsequently called the police department and “told them some man stopped us with a pistol and was drunk and they told me that there was already an officer out there to talk to him.

“A few days later, I went to get a copy of the police report and (Deputy) Bryan Linder (brother of Michael Linder) took me to his office, acted like he was looking for it and then told me that he didn’t have one, that he doesn’t require his officers to write up every little call and if I didn’t like his response, I could go across the hall to (Sheriff) Kevin Cobb’s office and talk to him.”

No record of a report of a man waving a gun and pulling motorists over in the middle of the night? Seriously? That begs the question of just what would a person have to do to generate an incident report? Once, when I was running police beat for the Baton Rouge State-Times, I saw an incident report of a “deceased chicken.”

Cobb, of course, was Pylant’s chief deputy before succeeding his former boss as sheriff.

The traffic stop by an unauthorized individual brandishing a weapon (drunk or sober) would be bad enough but just minutes later, Pylant and Drane appeared alongside a houseboat on the Tensas River owned by Frank’s friend Amos “Gene” Kenney of Gilbert.

Pylant, claiming he smelled meth cooking. Kenney responded that he was running trot lines and was cooking only beans on his boat.

Pylant then referred to another boat in the river, indicating the smell was coming from that direction. “It may be,” Kenney said, “but that ain’t my boat. This is my boat here and I’m cooking a pot of beans.”

Pylant insisted on searching the boat but Kenney demanded to see a search a warrant, which, of course, neither he nor sheriff’s deputy Brandon Boxx, who eventually showed up on the scene, happened to have on them. When Franks alluded to Pylant’s pointing a pistol at her car earlier, he denied it, saying, he was holding the pistol “in the air.”

At one point, Pylant said to Franks, “I’m gon’ tell you, baby, you piss on somebody’s foot…” Without completing what almost certainly was a profound thought, he switched gears, telling “Baby”, “I been in law enforcement for 30 years. I was sheriff here a long time.”

Pylant, harking back to his glory days as sheriff of Franklin Parish, boasted, “I was sheriff here a long time. I been retired eight years. I been in the state legislature.” Claiming he knew what meth smells like, he said, “I took the first meth lab down in northeast Louisiana in 1996 and I know what it smells like.”

Then he said, “I’m interested in seeing what we gonna find on that houseboat out there ‘cause I done seen y’all go back and forth out there twice.”

“We were on a trot line,” Franks protested.

“Naw, you wasn’t on no damn trot line,” Pylant said. “Somebody’s probably still in the houseboat.”

“I hope so,” Franks said. “Then there won’t be any question.”

“Well I heard y’all get out and get on it and ever’thang,” Pylant said.

After more back and forth accusations and denials, Franks said, “Well, I’m not going to argue with you…”

“There ain’t no need,” Pylant said, sounding like a true southern redneck sheriff that he seemed to think he still was. “It’s a damn shame,” he said, “a damn shame.”

I couldn’t have said it better, Rep. Pylant.

The folks in House District 20 must be so very proud.

And folks dare wonder why our legislature is so dysfunctional?

For your viewing enjoyment:

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It’s been a long time since an election in Louisiana has featured the level of accusations and misleading ads.

Like four years.

It was in 2015 when then State Rep. John Bel Edwards rolled out his “Prostitutes over Patriots” ad to taint U.S. Sen. David Vitter in the latter’s attempt to succeed the controversial Bobby Jindal to the state’s governor’s mansion next to Capitol Lake.

That ad was a reminder of Vitter’s embarrassing scandal over his skipping a vote to honor 28 soldiers killed in action in favor of taking a call from a PROSTITUTES.

That ad eclipsed Vitter’s attempt to smear Edwards for his visit to a black nightclub that featured semi-nude dancers.

In an ugly sidebar, Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand, a Republican who succeeded the colorful—and controversial—Harry Lee, got involved in the race, first by endorsing Edwards and then by collaring an apparent campaign mole attempting to record a session of Edwards supporters at a coffee claque.

Ugly indeed. Worthy of Earl Long.

Fast forward to 2019 and little has changed.

Both candidates, incumbent Gov. Edwards, a Democrat, and Republican challenger Eddie Rispone have unloaded a spate of attack ads against each other that have Louisiana voters suffering severe cases of campaign fatigue. If possible, the barrage is worse even than the avalanche of lawyer ads that seem to obscure local newscasts.

Edwards convinced black leaders in New Orleans to remove an ad comparing Rispone to David Duke, prompting Rispone to accuse Edwards of playing the race card, accusing Edwards’ family of racism because his ancestors were slave owners.

Ugly.

Even Donald Trump has inserted himself into the governor’s race, appearing at rallies over the state and charging that Edwards is pro-abortion and anti-2nd Amendment.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Edwards broke with his own party to support and sign into law one of the harshest anti-abortion laws in the nation—the constitutionality of which will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. And Edwards, himself a hunter, is a strong advocate of the 2nd Amendment.

Rispone has fashioned himself as a “jobs creator,” but Edwards ads point out that he has a record of outsourcing jobs to foreign workers who subsequently sued him over benefits. And as for the jobs Rispone says he “created,” Edwards has noted that Rispone’s company has received millions of dollars in tax exemptions for businesses that created precious few jobs.

Rispone has an ad attacking Edwards as being “too liberal for Louisiana” that inserts Edwards responding to the hypothetical “how liberal is John Bel Edwards,” saying “That’s a stupid question.”

Problem is, the Edwards comment is taken out of context. The remark was in response to Rispone’s debate question about New Orleans being a sanctuary city—which, in fact, was an uninformed question, much like Rispone’s claim that the State Constitution contained 400 pages just on the state tax code.

Ugly.

The Edwards campaign features an ad that shows Rispone introducing then-Gov. Bobby Jindal at some function (we don’t know what, but it does appear authentic). His introduction is interspersed with negative news headlines about major budget cuts and budgetary shortfalls that occurred during Jindal’s eight years. Rispone can be heard congratulating Jindal on “a great job.”

The end concludes with a warning that we can’t go back to the Jindal years.

Recently, Secretary of State KYLE ARDOIN apparently violated a state prohibition against him (or any secretary of state) from participating in any partisan election other than his own—because as secretary of state, he is in charge of impartially overseeing all elections in the state—when he appeared in a Trump rally in Monroe and endorsed Rispone.

Ugly.

A Rispone ad inaccurately accused one of Edwards’ supporters, a West Point roommate, of landing a STATE CONTRACT worth up to $65 million. The facts revealed that while Murray Starkel did bid on the coastal restoration contract, neither his firm nor any of the other three bidders received the contract. The ad was subsequently pulled.

A Rispone ad attacking Edwards’ MILITARY RECORD was particularly ugly, especially in light of the fact that Rispone’s primary benefactor, Baton Rouge businessman Lane Grigsby, DROPPED OUT of West Point.

And while Rispone appears satisfied to attack Edwards vis TV ads, he seems reluctant to face Edwards face to face, one on one, other than the formal debates to which he committed earlier. But he was a NO SHOW at a Baton Rouge Area Chamber forum as well as a Baton Rouge Press Club debate, prompting one observer to speculate that he didn’t get Grigsby’s permission to attend.

And while Rispone offers no hard solutions to any of the state’s problems other than to say he is a “jobs creator,” Edwards can—and does—boast that he took over a state wallowing in eight consecutive years of budgetary deficits of the Jindal administration to produce a $300 million budget surplus.

Rispone’s most effective ad features his daughter Dena extolling his family values, his faith and the fact that he is not only a wonderful father, but a “good man.” It’s easily the least offensive ad that either candidate has rolled out, even more effective than the image of Edwards driving down the road in his pickup truck with his arm draped around his wife’s shoulder. That ad may have been genuine, but I couldn’t help but feel it appeared contrived, posed. Rispone’s daughter, by contrast, was about as sincere as any ad in the entire festering campaign and, looking directly into the camera, she comes across as a truly loving daughter. Nothing about it seems rehearsed.

Rispone, however, all but negates that ad with another in which he opens by saying Louisiana is the best state in the nation but immediately clicks off a multitude of poor rankings that causes one to question his claim of our being the “best” state.

There can be no denying there are lingering problems that are so entrenched from decades of back room politics that put lawmakers’ personal gain of the state’s best interests.

In 2018, Louisiana had an unemployment rate of 4.9 percent, fourth-highest in the nation, and a poverty rate of 18.6 percent, the nation’s third-highest.

There are those who are not as enamored as Rispone’s daughter. And the skeptics include at least two elected Republicans.

One, a state senator, cautioned, “If you think Jindal was bad, just wait until you see what happens if Rispone is elected.”

Another, a parish official, said Rispone would bring back former commissioners of administration Kristi Nichols and Angelle Davis from “political oblivion” to work in his administration.

Those two, and others Republicans with similar opinions, will be targeted by the State Republican Party as RINOs (Republicans in Name Only).

Regardless, the citizens of Louisiana will breathe a sigh of relief when this circus is over.

Political campaigns in Louisiana can wear even the most resilient observer down to his or her last nerve.

Ugly.

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Last May, The New Orleans Advocate published a STORY that put the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees in Louisiana at 2,800.

Today, just six months later, that number has trebled to 9,000.

That dramatic increase could be tied to the sudden disappearance of thousands of detainees in Brownsville, Texas, who were rumored to have been quietly transferred to Louisiana which now ranks second only to Texas in the number of ICE detainees.

A big part of the reason for the surge is pure economics.

The Louisiana Department of Corrections pays local sheriffs and private prisons $24.39 to house its prisoners while ICE’s rate is more than double that, at $65 a day.

And the profits don’t stop with the daily rates paid by ICE. Exorbitant rates charged by private telephone companies, private- or sheriff department-run commissaries that gouge prisoners for snacks and soft drinks, and private companies that provide ankle monitors are cashing in on both DOC prisoners and ICE detainees.

In short, local facilities, whether operated by private companies like LASALLE CORRECTIONS, headquartered in Ruston (even its EMPLOYEES give it overall poor reviews), GEO, or local sheriffs—and the aforementioned affiliated suppliers—have discovered a cash cow.

One privately-run local prison no longer even takes DOC prisoners, choosing instead to go for the bigger payout.

And of course, the private companies that run prisons, operate telephone services, sell concessions and provide the ankle monitors haven’t forgotten to grease the skids via generous campaign contributions to the elected officials who continue to approve the arrangements and everyone comes away happy.

Almost everyone, that is.

Forgotten in the ringing of the cash registers for those entities has been the general welfare of the detainees.

With 1,600 detainees in Jena, 1,000 each in Richwood, Basile, and Jonesboro, 1,400 in Winnfield, 1,100 in Pine Prairie, 835 in Ferriday, 755 in Jena, and 250 in Plain Dealing, overcrowding is a real issue. And little has been done to address that problem.

At Richwood, for example, 98 detainees are housed in a single room and there are only four toilets with no privacy. Beds are stacked three high along the walls of the room with bunk beds placed down the middle of the room. Detainees are awakened at 4 a.m. for breakfast and are given only 40 minutes per day outside. One observer said the men “get so hopeless and desperate, they just start screaming.”

Hardened criminals at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola receive better treatment.

Recently, the warden at Richwood was replaced after a detainee committed SUICIDE.

Other atrocities attributed to LaSalle were cited in an ONLINE STORY by Vice.com. These included moldy food, poor training of guards, physical abuse of migrants, and lack of medical care.

A demonstration is planned tomorrow (Saturday) at Richwood for whatever good it might do. If a detainee is identified by the media, he is at risk for reprisals, according to the observer who spoke on condition of confidentiality for that very reason.

Nell Hahn, a retired Lafayette attorney with the Louisiana Advocates for Immigrant and Detention (LA-AID), spoke to a group of detainee advocates at the Ruston Presbyterian Church last Saturday.

She said billions of dollars are being wasted on imprisoning those “whose only offense is that they have no legal documentation. They have committed no crimes,” she said.

The detainees are housed in such remote places as Jonesboro, Jena, Ferriday, Winnfield, Pine Prairie, and Oberlin in part because keeping them in such remote places makes it difficult for them to obtain legal representation from attorneys like Lara Nochomovitz of Cleveland, Ohio, who, nevertheless represents clients at Richwood, Plain Dealing and Jonesboro.

The Southern Poverty Law Center purchased a house in Jena in order to serve as a place for attorneys to stay while working on cases—and for immigrants’ families to stay free of charge.

Still, immigration judges who hear Louisiana cases have unusually high rates of denials of petitions for asylum from detainees.

It’s one thing to protect our borders and no one would argue that. But to keep detainees, including children, in inhuman conditions with inadequate toiletries, bedding, food and exercise, caged like rats, is not what this country is supposed to be about.

And lest the argument crops up that the illegal immigrants are taking jobs from Americans, let’s be clear: They have not taken a single job. Those jobs were “taken” by the employers who run the roofing companies, construction companies and the chicken processing plants, and who give the jobs to the illegals.

As long as they give the low-paying jobs to illegals, the problem will persist.

Like the futile war on drugs, as long as there is a demand, there will be a supply.

 

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Eddie Rispone, who will face incumbent John Bel Edwards in the Nov. 16 general election for governor, calls himself a political outsider. In fact, that appears to be about the only position he has taken in the entire campaign other than proclaiming ad nauseam that he is a “job creator.”

And if running for public office for the first time serves as the barometer for which the term is defined, then yes, he is a political outsider.

But if you include participation behind the scenes—as in pouring hundreds of thousand of dollars into various political campaigns in order to make one’s influence felt in the halls of the Louisiana Legislature—then no, Eddie Rispone is anything but a political outsider.

If allowing someone like Baton Rouge contractor Lane Grigsby control your campaign—even to the point of boasting that he will chair your transition committee following your election (as claimed Wednesday over a Baton Rouge radio program)—then Eddie Rispone would have to be considered the consummate political insider.

Rispone, by necessity, had to participate in the gubernatorial debates because he was pitted not against Edwards in the first primary, but against Congressman Ralph Abraham, to see who would face Edwards in the general election.

And now that he’s in the runoff, he seems to be dodging any face-to-face confrontation with Edwards. Just last night (Tuesday), he was a no-show at a statewide forum sponsored by the Baton Rouge Area Chamber of Commerce, leaving Edwards alone to field questions.

It’s a strategy, regrettably, that may be in Rispone’s favor. With no real proposals forthcoming from him other than his repeated claim that he is a “job creator,” and knowing that as the only Republican candidate in a very red state, he need only keep his head down and avoid major gaffs for the next three weeks.

The two are scheduled to participate in one final debate one week from today. We’ll see if Rispone keeps that date.

Since 2003, the first year that Bobby Jindal ran for governor, Rispone and various family members have forked over more than $944,000 in political campaign contributions to various candidates—including $19,000 to Jindal and $35,000 to David Vitter’s 2015 campaign for governor.

Rispone and family have also contributed:

  • $72,600 to Citizens for a Better Baton Rouge Political Action Committee (PAC);
  • $50,000 to Education PAC;
  • $100,000 to Empower Louisiana PAC (chaired by Grigsby);
  • $250,000 to the Louisiana Federation for Children PAC;
  • $40,000 to the Republican Party of Louisiana;
  • $175,000 to the Fund for Louisiana’s Future.

Like his protégé, Grigsby likes to play behind the scenes, preferring to act not as a king, but as a kingmaker. And by holding the purse strings, he wields far more power than many office holders do themselves but without the pesky necessity of answering to constituents.

As such, he has been the chief “sponsor” of Rispone’s candidacy, hoping to install his own candidate in the fourth floor of the House that Huey Built so that he, like the man behind the curtain in The Wizard of Oz, can call the shots without being subjected to voters’ scrutiny.

And now we have Donald Trump spewing disinformation about John Bel Edwards on behalf of Rispone. Trump’s TV ads, which are peppering the airwaves, claim that Edwards is pro-abortion and anti-Second Amendment. Nothing could be further from the truth. If anything, Edwards has alienated the Democratic Party with his Pro-Life stance, based on his Catholic background—and don’t forget, he supported and signed a strong anti-abortion bill into law that is presently before the U.S. Supreme Court.

And his pro-Second Amendment record is out there everyone to see—even Donald Trump. But in a political campaign, anything goes—even outright lies.

Grigsby’s campaign contributions dwarf those of Rispone. He and his family members have poured more than $2 million into various political campaigns since 2003, meaning that between him and student Rispone, they have spent just a shade under $3 million on a wide array of candidates and causes.

Unsuccessful U.S. Senate candidate Rob Maness was on the Jim Engster Show on Wednesday morning and he made the claim that Grigsby is already spreading the word around Baton Rouge that he will chair Rispone’s transition committee after he’s elected governor on Nov. 16.

But Grigsby recently may have crossed an ethics line, assuming such a line even exists anymore—or ever did—in the world of Louisiana politics.

In the Oct. 12 primary election for State Senator from Baton Rouge’s 16th District, Democrat Beverly Brooks Thompson led a five-candidate field with 14,213 votes (34 percent) while incumbent Republican Steve Carter and Republican challenger Franklin Foil finished in a tie for second place.

With a three-candidate runoff looming, which would have been in favor of Thompson since only a plurality would be needed to win, Grigsby, desperate to install a Republican, tried to entice Foil into dropping out by promising him a judgeship.

As it turned out, that was unnecessary because a re-count gave Foil a four-vote win over Carter, placing him in the Nov. 16 runoff alone against the Democrat.

But Grigsby’s offer brings into sharp focus the problem with big money in political races. It is indisputable that any candidate—whether he has anything to offer or whether he is just an empty suit—with sufficient money for enough sound-bite television ads has a tremendous advantage over a candidate with plenty of substance but no money.

No one should be able to purchase a judgeship—or any other office. That flies in the face of everything this country is supposed to stand for, but apparently no longer does.

Kris Kristofferson wrote a beautiful song entitled Me and Bobby Magee. There’s a line in that song that says “Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.”

To paraphrase that line, “Free elections is just another term for plutocracy.”

 

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