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It’s not enough that the Republican Governors Association (RGA) has MISCONSTRUED one of our stories about disaster relief in an effort to make Gov. John Bel Edwards look as ineffective as possible.

The RGA ran similar misleading ads in the recent Mississippi gubernatorial election campaign.

And they always seem to pop up at the very end of a campaign, too late for the other side to respond.

And to be sure, both sides are generally equally guilty of such tactics.

Now, an 11th hour TV ad features a grizzled old guy wearing a Vietnam Veteran’s cap ranting about how Edwards has disgraced West Point and the military in general and veterans in particular.

There are several not-so-subtle problems with the ad, however, telltale signs that might cause one to question the ad’s validity:

  • First of all, the “Vietnam vet” talking into the camera is just a little too slick in reciting his lines.
  • It’s almost as if his lines were rehearsed. He skillfully places just the right emphasis on just the right catch-phrases.
  • He comes off not as a genuine veteran, but more like an…actor—certainly not some typical Vietnam veteran one might encounter out for a morning stroll.
  • You notice he never gives his name. It would be helpful to know who this “veteran” is.
  • And that Vietnam Veteran cap? It looks just a little too crisp, too clean, too, well…new.

In the white-hot world of Louisiana political campaigns, there is usually no level to which a candidate is not willing to stoop.

In some quarters, that might be considered STOLEN VALOR.

Of course, the RGA could dispel that suspicion by simply identifying the speaker in the ad.

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I had no sooner posted my story of earlier today when I received a text from a friend asking me what was up with what he described as an Eddie Rispone “hit piece” against Gov. John Bel Edwards.

Pleading ignorance, I asked what he was talking about. He said it was an ad that’s running that features a LouisianaVoice story—obviously something that would reflect badly on Edwards.

So, I captured the 30-second ad which opens with aerial footage of the devastating 2016 flood that ravaged southeast Louisiana.

The ad, which says Edwards was caught “flat-footed” (Not really too unbelievable since the victims, yours truly included, were also caught flat-footed and had little time to try and save anything), quickly cuts to a legislative hearing in which Edwards is grilled by a grandstanding lawmaker (more interested in making a political point than in helping victims) who demanded to know how many people were displaced.

Click HERE to see the ad.

The legislator, seizing the opportunity to cast Edwards in as bad a light as possible, when told by Edwards that he didn’t have a clue how many people were impacted, asked, “You’re that clueless?”

That was patently unfair and at its very best, a cheap shot by a snotty-nosed political opportunist.

That was bad enough, but at the 12-second point of the ad, the ad, purchased by the Republican Governors Association PAC flashed a huge headline superimposed over an image of Edwards as he testified.

The headline read: “Flood Recovery Government Contracts Provide Riches to Consultants.”

The source of the headline: a LouisianaVoice story dated March 7, 2018.

I went to our archives and pulled up the story. Here is the LINK.

As you can see, the actual headline reads: “Hurricane, flood recovery government contracts provide riches to consultants, little else but frustration to victims.”

The ad conveniently deletes the words “Hurricane” and “little else but frustration to victims.”

That’s because the story, while citing a $15,000 campaign contribution to Edwards by IEM, which subsequently landed a $308 million contract, concentrated more on administrative costs and the frustrations flood victims encountered with FEMA. Frustrations with things like knowing that of the $1.3 billion appropriated for reconstruction, only $207 million had actually been allocated 19 months after the flood. And today, after another 19 months, little has changed.

And while I’m still smarting over the lack of progress in disbursing recovery funds now three years-plus after the flood, IEM could hardly be classified as a political crony of Edwards, its owner’s $15,000 contribution notwithstanding. Bobby Jindal, Rispone’s mentor, after all, received far more than that from the principals of the Baton Rouge Business Report and its publisher landed a spot on the LSU Board of Supervisors and on the Superdome Board. Likewise, Jindal also appointed Lee Mallet to the LSU Board after receiving more than $150,000 in contributions from Mallett’s family and businesses.

Compared to those contributions, IEM’s $15,000 would hardly classify it as what the ad describes as a”top campaign donor.”

But back to my story of March 7, 2018. The thrust of that story was the contracts awarded for recovery from Katrina and the ensuing fraud. And the main point made regarding flood recovery was not the contract to one firm, which the ad misleadingly said failed, but the ineptness of FEMA which threw up roadblock after roadblock to recovery.

But the main point here is how a candidate, or those working on his behalf, can take a half-truth and turn it into a campaign issue.

It’s done at every level of politics and no one should be surprised at the practice and everyone should cast a jaundiced eye at all such campaign rhetoric although frankly, I firmly believe that despite the expenditure of the millions of dollars on ads in the waning days of the campaign, no more than a dozen or so votes have been changed. Despite those who claim to be undecided in the polls, I believe voters made their decisions weeks ago.

 

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LouisianaVoice’s October fundraiser is over, but we continue to offer a signed copy of my latest book Louisiana’s Rogue Sheriffs: A Culture of Corruption to anyone who contributes $100 or more.

This 355-page book paints a comprehensive picture of how sheriffs, the most powerful person in any parish, can—and do—abuse the powers vested in them. Instead of adhering to their oath of office in which they pledge to carry out the duties of their office in accordance with the laws of Louisiana and the Louisiana State Constitution, many sheriffs put profits over the public, giving priorities to filling jails with state prisoners—for pay—and in some cases, becoming involved in drugs, theft, prostitution, and gambling.

It begins with the 1951 New Orleans congressional hearings on organized crime by U.S. Sen. Estes Kefauver of Tennessee. That hearing revealed the active involvement in gambling, prostitution, and smuggling by the sheriffs of four Louisiana parishes.

It also includes accounts of:

  • A sheriff indicted by a federal grand jury for physical and mental abuse of prisoners, only to be acquitted, though several of his deputies were convicted and sentenced to prison;
  • A sitting sheriff sentenced to federal prison following his conviction of drug trafficking;
  • A former sheriff said to have been a bag man for Carlos Marcello;
  • A defeated sheriff who planted a bomb that blew off the foot of his successor;
  • A sheriff who conspired with the local district attorney to wrongly convict a national rodeo star of murder;
  • A sheriff whose office was leasing a marina for $1700 per month who, when the BP spill occurred, sub-let the marina to BP for staging its recovery efforts for a mind-boggling $1.7 million per month—paid to his department.

Those are only a few of the stories contained in this book. Traditionally, Louisiana citizens pay far too little attention to the actions of their sheriffs because, truth be told, they answer to no one—not Congress, not the president, not the governor, not to the legislature.

Former Jefferson Parish Sheriff Harry Lee, once rumored to be considering a run for governor, responded, “Why would I want to be governor when I can be king?” No truer words were ever spoken in describing the powers entrusted to Louisiana sheriffs.

You can order the book by clicking on the oval yellow BUTTON in the column to the upper right of this post.

The button looks like this: Donate Button with Credit Cards

But don’t click on this image; it won’t work. Click on the button to the upper right.

If you can’t spring for a $100 contribution, you may still purchase a copy of the book for $30 (Amazon’s price is $35).

Be sure to provide your mailing address so I can get your book shipped out immediately.

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Loren Lampert, executive director of the Louisiana District Attorneys Association (LDAA), gets around.

And around.

Lampert began his career as a deputy sheriff in his native Rapides Parish before receiving his law degree from Oklahoma City University in 1996 and being named Assistant District Attorney, where he served for the next 13 years. While working for the Rapides DA, he was named that office’s Chief Felony Narcotics Prosecutor.

He has held a multitude of prosecutorial positions in several parishes in different judicial districts, some of them overlapping, in apparent violation of the state’s dual-officeholding statutes.

His documented odyssey of multi-tasking for various district attorneys had its beginnings as early as 2012 and continued through mid-September 2018.

In 2011, he became Chief of Police for the City of Alexandria and remained in that $150,000-per-year post until he was appointed as part-time Assistant District Attorney for Calcasieu Parish on May 9, 2017, earning $41.96 before being promoted just two months later to full-time at a six-figure salary.

But wait. We’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Lampert in the unique position of having served as a prosecutor, in more than one judicial district simultaneously—an apparent violation of the state’s dual-officeholding statutes.

His employment becomes rather murky after signing an Oath of Office as Assistant District for the 14th JDC in May 2017 pursuant to his appointment to that position by DA John DeRosier. KTBS-TV in Shreveport ran a story on Oct. 23, 2017, about the Natchitoches Parish conviction of a man accused of crashing into a Natchitoches police vehicle, injuring three officers.

The last paragraph of that story said, “Assistant District Attorney Loren Lampert prosecuted the case.”

And in a letter to the secretary of state dated Nov. 2, 2017, by 10th JDC (that would be Natchitoches Parish) District Attorney Billy Joe Harrington, the appointment of Loren M. Lampert as assistant district attorney “effective 8/30/17,” was announced. A copy of Lampert’s oath of office also accompanied that letter.

That’s less than four months after he signed on as a part-time assistant DA for Calcasieu Parish and only six weeks after that part-time position had been super-sized to ADMINISTRATIVE FIRST ASSISTANT DA in DeRosier’s office on July 17, 2017, at a SALARY salary of $105,000, which was increased to $106,068 on Dec. 18, even though he continued living in Alexandria, not Calcasieu, all that time.

Sources claim that Lampert’s appointment by DeRosier was a means of grooming him for bigger and better things.

In June 2018, according to a story in the Natchitoches Times, Lampert was also the prosecutor in ANOTHER CASE involving a man subsequently found guilty three of four charges involving a disturbance at the Natchitoches Parish courthouse.

In other words, he was being paid a six-figure salary as First Assistant DA in Calcasieu while also being paid as a prosecutor in Natchitoches Parish in 2017 and 2018—all the while living in Rapides.

But it gets murkier still.

KALB-TV in Alexandria ran a story on July 3, 2018, announcing that Lampert “has been named the ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR of the LDAA and is on the fast track to transition to the top spot as executive director next summer.”

Lampert submitted his resignation as DeRosier’s Administrative First Assistant DA on Sept. 13, 2018 and his last day with the Calcasieu DA’s office was Sept. 28.

Today, Lampert appears to have finally settled into one position as EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR of the Louisiana District Attorney’s Association, succeeding long time Executive Director Pete Adams upon the latter’s retirement.

But maybe not. In May of this year, well into his tenure as associate director of LDAA, the omnipresent Lampert was still working as an assistant DA in Calcasieu, serving as prosecutor in the case of Felton Felmon Thompson, charged with first-degree murder.

“We did a general request for resumes and interest in the position,” Adams said in announcing Lampert’s hiring as associate director in July 2018. “Loren was one of many candidates who applied. He was clearly number-one in the selection process. And he was approved by the board,” Adams said.

It must seem like old times to Lampert who, along with DeRosier, previously served as an LDAA board member. DeRosier served as president of the board in 2012-2013. Lampert served as a board member in 2017-2018.

And as LDAA’s new executive director, he will continue working with a 2019-2020 BOARD OF DIRECTORS that included at least one familiar member: Natchitoches Parish DA Harrington.

Here are copies of Lambert’s OATHS OF OFFICE  which show the overlapping times of employment by the four district attorneys.

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“I believe love is the answer, but you oughta own a handgun, just in case.” October 2016

“Our country was founded by geniuses, but it’s being run by idiots.” January 2018 (stolen from Jeff Foxworthy, who stole it from Fritz Edmunds (whoever that is).

“I’d rather drink weed killer than support Obamacare.” October 2016.

“It must suck to be that dumb.” November 6, 2019, of Nancy Pelosi at a Trump rally in Monroe.

 

Louisiana Sen. John Neely Kennedy, who obviously is the rejected love child incarnate of Will Rogers and LBJ—but with only half the wit of the former and none of the charisma of the latter.

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