Archive for the ‘Vitter’ Category

A government employee must not be influenced by extraneous factors when making decisions and “never accept for himself or his family, favors or benefits under circumstances which might be construed by reasonable persons as influencing the performance of governmental duties.

—Code of Ethics for Government Service.

Senators may not hold government officials captive by tying their personal finances or benefits to their official acts.

—Senate Ethics Manual.


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Interspersed in all the venomous political rhetoric in the gubernatorial campaign that is now moving toward its merciful final week are some real issues that affect our lives and which should warrant closer inspection by the voting public.

Unfortunately, given the public’s taste for voyeurism and salacious gossip, that probably won’t happen. Besides, time is short and the sordid half-truths, distortions and details of political black ops are just heating up. There just isn’t time for the things that matter.

But at least one group is taking U.S. Sen. David Vitter to task for a letter he wrote last April to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Commander Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy.

In that otherwise routine five-page letter, dated April 16, 2015, Vitter addressed a number of issues concerning levees, flood control, storm surge protection, past due payments from the Corps to the State of Louisiana for freshwater diversion projects, a request to complete the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project (SELA) in Orleans, Jefferson and St. Tammany parishes, deauthorization of the West Pearl River Navigation Project, a request for increased negotiation efforts to approve the Lower Mississippi River Management proposal, and bank stabilization along the Ouachita River in north Louisiana.

Buried at the bottom of page three of the letter was item number 7: Helis Oil and Gas Permit MVN (Mississippi Valley New Orleans)-2013-02952-ETT.

Issue: “The aforementioned permit application is currently awaiting approval within MVN, but has stalled due to several pending lawsuits,” Vitter’s letter said. “The State of Louisiana, Department of Environmental Quality issued the water quality certification (WQC 140328-02) on March 19, 2015. Issuance of the 404 permit is the last remaining action needed to begin construction of the test well.”

Request: “Immediately approve and issue the 404 permit.”


In his April 16 letter, Vitter did what he does best: intimidate with not-so-subtle threats.

“As the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers moves forward with leadership transitions and promotions in the coming months, I’d like to take this opportunity to ensure that you—as the two primary Corps leaders—continue strengthening your commitment to improve communication and issue resolution with non-Federal stakeholders who depend on the Corps to provide necessary flood protection, reliable navigation, and restored ecosystems,” he wrote.

“…However, it’s critical that Corps leadership understand there remain several significant Louisiana issues that need to be addressed and resolved in an expeditious manner. In light of those issues, I can’t support the transition or promotion of new leadership until I know that a constructive approach will be taken to address and resolve these serious problems.”

As if on cue, the Corps on June 8 approved the permit application by Helis Oil & Gas Co. http://www.nola.com/environment/index.ssf/2015/06/wetlands_permit_approved_by_fr.html

Vanishing Earth, a new political blog that concentrates on environmental issues, obtained the Vitter letter to the Corps that contained Vitter’s heavy-handed approach to resolving issues, particularly the approval of the Helis permit.

That permit, since approved, will allow Helis to drill an exploratory well for the purpose of oil drilling and controversial hydraulic fracking in St. Tammany Parish. Parish residents have resisted fracking in St. Tammany and have even filed a lawsuit in district court to stop the practice there because of legitimate concerns about air and water pollution, damage to the aquifer that supplies drinking water, and the industrialization of the parish.

The irony is that St. Tammany is considered a strongly Republican parish and represents one of Vitters’ strongest areas of support.

But, as is always the case in politics, money speaks much louder than loyalty to constituents and Helis has seen to it that Vitter’s campaigns, both federal and more recently, state, are remembered fondly.

On May 8, less than a month after Vitter wrote his letter to the Corps, Helis made a $5,000 contribution to Vitter’s gubernatorial campaign. Additionally, on that same date, Helis CEO David Kerstein made an identical maximum allowable contribution of $5,000. Then, on Nov. 6 of this year, less than two weeks after the first primary, Helis chipped in an additional $5,000. The company also contributed $15,000 in three separate contributions to lieutenant governor candidate Billy Nungesser.



Moreover, Kerstein contributed an additional $7,500 to Vitter’s U.S. House and Senate campaigns from 2000 to 2008, according to Federal Election Commission records. Corporations are prohibited from contributing to federal campaign. http://docquery.fec.gov/cgi-bin/qind/


Helis apparently is not an equal opportunity donor; no contributions could be found by the company or its CEO to Democrats John Bel Edwards or Nungesser’s opponent Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden.

What David Vitter is essentially saying in his letter to Secretary Darcy and Lieutenant General Bostick is that if they do not perform certain acts, issue the permit, then he will punish them by taking away something of personal value to them which, in this case, are the “transitions and promotions,” wrote Vanishing Earth publisher Jonathan Henderson. “In other words, he blackmailed them.” http://vanishingearth.org/2015/11/05/senator-vitter-corruption-reaches-st-tammany-parish-fracking-fight/

Henderson is encouraging his readers to call on the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Ethics “to immediately investigate Senator David Bruce Vitter.”

Additionally, one source said some residents of St. Tammany were considering filing a complaint with the State Board of Ethics. LouisianaVoice inquired of the state board whether or not such a complaint had been filed. This was the response we received:

In response to your public records request of Nov. 12th, please be advised that all complaints and documents prepared or obtained in connection with an investigation are deemed confidential and privileged pursuant to R.S. 42:1141.4 K&L which also provides that it is a misdemeanor for any person, including the Board’s staff, to make any public statement or give out any information concerning any confidential matter.

LouisianaVoice has begun an investigation into fracking operations in Lincoln Parish as well. Residents there are concerned about the drain on the Sparta Aquifer which supplies drinking water to several north Louisiana parishes. We will bring you more details on those operations as we receive them.

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A professor of Criminal Justice and retired Louisiana State Police Officer compares drug offenses with sex crimes in Louisiana in response to David Vitter’s vitriolic political ads suggesting that releasing non-violent drug offenders will harm public safety.

By Wayne “Steve” Thompson, PhD (Special to LouisianaVoice)

According to Louisiana Revised Statute 40:967, the state of Louisiana has a mandatory minimum sentence of five years for possession of 28 grams of cocaine or crack cocaine. According to Louisiana Revised Statute 14:34, the state of Louisiana does not have a mandatory minimum for aggravated battery which includes shooting or stabbing someone. Second degree rape has a mandatory minimum of two years (LRS 14:42.1). To sum it up, a man who threatens to kill a woman so she will not resist while he rapes her is required to do less time in jail than a person with a handful of cocaine or crack cocaine.

I have personally worked cases involving drug use and drug dealing resulting in decades if not centuries of incarceration. I have served numerous warrants on drug dealers while serving on the LSP SWAT team. I have assisted in the investigation of sex crimes cases. I found it frustrating the level of leniency towards sex offenders who received less punishment than drug offenders. Leniency for sex offenders is required to make sure there is room for the statutorily mandated sentences of non-violent drug offenders. My frustrations are shared by many in the criminal justice community.

Incarceration does not work

 Thirty-two percent of state felony convictions were for drug offenses in 2002 and more than 60 percent of those were sentenced to incarceration (Vanderwaal et al., 2006). There were 253,300 drug offenders in state prisons in 2005 (United States Department of Justice, 2008). The estimated cost of incarcerating these offenders is from $5 billion to $8 billion dollars per year. The average incarceration cost per offender is around $30,000 per year.

The drug war is an exercise of futility. Drug prices have gone down and the availability of drugs has increased (Caulkins & MacCoun, 2003). Long incarcerations result in higher recidivism or have zero effectiveness in reducing recidivism (Marinelli-Casey, et al., 2008; Caulkins & Reuter, 2006; Harvard Law Review, 1998; Vanderwaal et al., 2006). The user is still able to obtain drugs because there are plenty of people willing to stand in for a drug dealer when he or she is incarcerated. It is not the same for a violent offender. There is no line of violent offenders who want to step into the shoes of a sex offender, robber, or murderer. There are only victims. The incarceration of violent criminals can actually reduce the number of victimizations.

What does work?

According to Vanderwaal et al. (2006), drug treatment is more effective than incarceration in reducing drug use and reducing recidivism. Many states have realized this evidenced by numerous legislative acts which reduce mandatory minimum sentences and the establishment of over 1,600 drug courts by the end of 2004. The Back on Track (BOT) program in California is focused on first time low level drug dealers. They participate in extensive community service and meet positive goals such as school and employment requirements. If the participants successfully complete the program, they have their records sealed. Rivers (2009) reported the program has a recidivism rate of less than 10 percent and the cost is only $5,000 per participant. When this amount is compared to the reported prosecution expense of $10,000 and an annual incarceration rate of up to $50,000, it is a great success, a bargain for taxpayers.

Why does Louisiana lead the world in incarceration rates?

Research based treatment programs are a common sense alternative to incarceration that improves the ability to incarcerate violent offenders. An ad recently released in the Louisiana gubernatorial campaign condemned efforts to release up to 5,500 nonviolent drug offenders. That is 5,500 prison beds that can be used for violent offenders. The fiscal impact alone based on current incarceration costs is a savings of approximately $165 million every year. I am sure our schools could use that money.

The excessive punishments have been inspired by political popularity which also inhibits our ability to use common sense penalties and treatment. The public and law enforcement have shifted to the ideals that the drug problem is social, psychological, biological, and medical. The criminal justice system is ill equipped to deal with such problems.

Politicians are hesitant to change how we treat drug offenders for fear of appearing soft on crime resulting in damage to a political career. The fear is not created by the person who chooses innovation over ineffectiveness. The fear is created by opponents of the candidate by taking the methods out of context. I will attempt to place them in context.

Any effort to reduce the incarceration of nonviolent drug offenders through research proven treatment is a stance against violent criminals. Those who oppose such efforts are actually supporting keeping violent offenders in our midst. An attempt to create fear for political gain is described by Sheriff Tony Mancuso of Calcasieu Parish as “irresponsible” and “dangerous.”

Why do politicians think these ads work?

There is only one explanation, the perception of ignorance. The candidate must believe the voters at large have never dealt with a friend or family member who suffers from drug abuse and believe they should be treated versus incarcerated. We need representatives who will reduce our prison population with research proven best practices to make room for violent offenders. The people behind such political ads do not want violent offenders on the street and I would never make that claim. But, by putting such blatantly ignorant ads out, that is what they are facilitating.


Caulkins, J. P. & MacCoun, R. (2003). Limited rationality and the limits of supply reduction.       Journal of Drug Issues, 33(2), 433-464.

Caulkins, J. P. & Reuter, P. (2006). Reorienting U.S. drug policy. Issues in Science &        Technology, 23(1), 79-85.

Harvard Law Review. (1998). Alternatives to incarceration. Harvard Law Review, 111(7), 1863-  1991.

Louisiana Revised Statute 14:34. (1980). Aggravated Battery.

Louisiana Revised Statute 14:42.1. (2001). Forcible Rape.

Louisiana Revised Statute 40:967. (2007). Prohibited Acts-Schedule II, Penalties.

Marinelli-Casey, P., Gonzales, R., Hillhouse, M., Ang, A., Zweben, J., Cohen, J. Hora, P. F., &    Rawson, R. A., (2008). Drug court treatment for methamphetamine dependence:           Treatment response and posttreatment outcomes. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment.      34(2), 242-248.

Rivers, J. L. (2009). Back on track: A problem-solving reentry court. Bureau of Justice Statistics    Office of Justice Programs. Retrieved on November 22, 2009 at             http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/BJA/pdf/BackonTrackFS.pdf.

United States Department of Justice. (2008). Number of persons under jurisdiction of state           correctional authorities by most serious offense, 1980-2005. Retrieved November 24,    2009 at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/glance/tables/corrtyptab.htm.

Vanderwaal, C. J., Chriqui, J. F., Bishop, R. M., McBride, D. C., & Longshore, D. Y. (2006).       State drug policy reform movement: The use of ballot initiatives and legislation to       promote diversion to drug treatment. Journal of Drug Issues, 36(3), 619-648.

Editor’s note: In one of the two debates attended by Vitter prior to the Oct. 24 primary election, both he and State Rep. John Bel Edwards agreed that alternative programs needed to be implemented in order to alleviate prison overcrowding. That, of course, was before Vitter decided to ignore his own position to the issue and to paint Edwards as “soft on crime.”

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Can the campaigns of Bobby Jindal and David Vitter possibly be any more pathetic or repugnant?

Can the Louisiana Republican Party possibly look any more dysfunctional and puerile?

Between the events being reported on both campaigns, it would appear that each has reached the depths of degradation. But then experience has taught us to never underestimate the stupidity of a desperate individual—or in this case, two desperate individuals, both apparently headed in the same direction albeit via vastly different stratagems.

(Hint to Republicans still possessing a modicum of mental stability: you may wish to disembark from the Disoriented Express at the next stop. It’s not too late to check out of the Hotel Silly.)

First, we have Jindal, still clinging to the watery thin hope that somehow he may yet be thrust to the forefront of that gaggle of geese, aka Republican presidential hopefuls.

As we have mentioned from time to time, we somehow lucked up and got on his email list so that we get regular updates on his “surging” poll numbers and his “awesome” speeches and kiddie table debate performances. Here’s one we received on Nov. 3:

From: Gail, BobbyJindal.com [mailto:info@bobbyjindalhq.com]

Sent: Tuesday, November 03, 2015 5:11 PM


Subject: New Poll: Jindal Leads Bush in Iowa

According to the latest poll out of Iowa, Bobby Jindal has moved up to 5th place, and currently has the third highest favorable rating. Bobby doesn’t have a $100 million Super Pac backing him like Jeb, but it doesn’t matter because he has grassroots supporters like you. With your help, Bobby has stood up to the DC establishment and fought for conservative principles. There are 90 days left until the Iowa Caucus. Chip in $250, $100 or even $25 right now so we have the resources to keep building our grassroots campaign and continue to rise in the polls. With your help, Bobby will win Iowa and ride the momentum to the White House.

Thank you,

Gail Gitcho Senior Advisor,

Jindal for President

P.S. please share this big news with your family and friends!

We’re not certain but we suspect by “senior advisor,” she means she is a senior in high school.

But now it seems that Bobby has been marked down by K-Mart. Here is the email we received today:

From: Brad Engle, BobbyJindal.com [mailto:info@bobbyjindalhq.com]

Sent: Friday, November 06, 2015 9:22 AM


Subject: Today’s challenge

Hi, I just got out of our senior staff meeting, and I need your help on something. Our digital team just got challenged to get 1,000 new Jindal for President donors today. Can I count on you to help us get there? All we need is for you to chip in $1.

I need to send Governor Jindal a list of how many people chipped in before I leave the office tonight. Thanks,

Brad Engle Digital Director,

Jindal for President

Are you freakin’ kidding me? Has Bobby actually gone from soliciting amounts of $10, $25, $50, $100, and $250 to support his languishing campaign to begging for a buck?

One dollar to run for President? Oh, the humanity! (With apologies to Herb Morrison, the radio reporter who provided live coverage of the Hindenburg disaster on May 6, 1937—and of course, to Les Nessman the WKRP newsman who covered the live Thanksgiving turkey drop from the WKRP helicopter only to find that the turkeys could not fly.)

But if it’s abhorrence you want in lieu of cheap humor, then consider this little jewel: Jindal is scheduled to join Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and former Arkansas Gov. at a National Religious Liberties Conference in Des Moines today and tomorrow (Friday, Nov. 5 and Saturday, Nov. 7) hosted by pastor and radio host Kevin Swanson.

So what’s so repulsive about that, you ask? Just this. The good reverend, the wonderful Christian that he must certainly be, openly supports executing homosexuals. It’s not enough, apparently to merely advocate rehabilitating gays the way many fundamentalists do, he wants the U.S. to adopt Uganda’s death penalty for them. http://www.politicususa.com/2015/11/03/gop-candidates-speak-conference-hosted-pastor-supports-killing-gays.html

If Jindal had any sense in that pea-sized brain of his, he would run, not walk, as far from that event as possible. Instead, he apparently embraces it.

What have we become as a society? A nation? A civilization? Does this pseudo-preacher, along with Jindal, Cruz, and Huckabee really believe this is what Christ taught when he walked this earth? For Jindal, the very idea of his participation literally drips with inconsistent irony. As the leading proponent of Islamophobia (remember his claim of the “no-go zones” in Europe?), he now aligns himself with Islamics who advocate the death penalty for homosexuals.

And then there is this today from Robert Mann: http://www.salon.com/2015/11/06/david_vitter_hooker_shocker_new_charges_that_louisiana_pol_missed_vote_honoring_soldiers_while_scheduling_prostitute_rendezvous/

But when it comes to sheer audacity, it’s going to be difficult to top Vitter and his supporters. Republican leaders were quick to condemn Republican Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, who finished fourth in the Oct. 24 primary election, for his endorsement of Democratic State Rep. John Bel Edwards on Thursday (Sept. 5). Some of the criticism was a bit humorous, some of it more than a little sick.

Louisiana Republican Party Chairman Roger Villere called Dardenne “the Nick Saban of Louisiana politics.” http://theadvocate.com/news/13896377-63/louisiana-gop-chair-calls-republican

That, of course was an attempt to label Dardenne a traitor to his party by comparing him with the University of Alabama coach who, like him or not, restored LSU football to national prominence after years of sub-par seasons with revolving door coaches. In 2003, he won the school’s first national championship in football since 1958 before moving on—not to Alabama, but to the NFL’s Miami Dolphins. When that didn’t work out, he took the Alabama job and has won three national championships there.

So when Villere called Dardenne the Nick Saban of politics, he was, in effect, calling him a winner though that obviously was not his intent.

But in politics, it seems that party loyalty, or branding, takes precedence over selecting the best candidate for the job. The Republicans are showing that trait now. The Democrats did it in 1979 when four Democratic losers to Republican Dave Treen and Democrat Louis Lambert in the primary endorsed Treen. The demand for party loyalty over ability can definitely be found on both sides of the aisle.

But for pure nastiness and below the belt sour grapes, none can match the letter to Dardenne by Peter Egan, chairman of the St. Tammany Republican Parish Executive.

In fact, Egan, after what he compared Dardenne to in a Nov. 5 (Thursday) letter to Dardenne, perhaps should just slink off into quiet oblivion and hope that no one remembers his name.


In that letter, believe it or not, Egan compared Dardenne to a jilted man firing a gun into his ex-wife’s car. How he makes such a comparison is beyond comprehension—not far removed from the incredibly crass tweet of The Hayride blogger Scott McKay who compared Edwards to Anwar al-Awlaki, the American who joined ISIS and who was later killed.


As for Vitter himself, has anyone seen the first Vitter ad that tells us what he intends to do to pull this state out of the morass that Jindal has placed us in? Has he offered any solutions? Didn’t think so. All he has done is hit us with a never ending barrage of negative ads feverishly attempting to tie Edwards to President Obama.

As we said at the beginning, never underestimate the stupidity of a desperate individual.

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In the wake of his disappointing finish in the October 24 primary election, largely attributable to some of the most vicious attack ads by second place finisher David Vitter, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne announced that he would not endorse either of the candidates in the Nov. 21 general election.

That appears to have changed now.

Democratic State Rep. John Bel Edwards, who led the field in the primary election with 40 percent of the votes cast, has scheduled a special press conference for 9 a.m. Thursday (Nov. 5) at Free Speech Alley in front of the student union on the LSU campus.

Both the Baton Rouge Advocate and nola.com have posted online stories saying that Dardenne will be announcing his endorsement of Edwards at the press conference.



That would be a major coup for Edwards. In addition to the 444,517 votes cast for Edwards, Dardenne, who finished fourth in the primary election, received 166,656 votes. Between the two, that accounts for 611,173, or 54.8 percent of the 1,114,336 votes cast.

Vitter has captured the consolation prize of former Gov. Mike Foster’s endorsement.

But perhaps voters should remember that Foster is the one guilty of foisting Bobby Jindal upon the unwitting Louisiana populace. Based on that unenviable legacy, his endorsement could prove counterproductive to Vitter.

Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle placed third with 214,982 votes. So far, he has not endorsed either candidate for the runoff election but he was also the subject of the same attack ads as Dardenne.

Vitter is not making any new friends with his new wave of misleading attack ads, this time aimed at Edwards. Filled with distortions and outright lies about Edwards’s voting record as a legislator, the early ads have already backfired.

After a spate of ads claiming that Edwards planned to release 5,500 hardened criminals from prison, the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association promptly endorsed Edwards. (Edwards actually called for prison reform that would offer rehabilitation to non-violent offenders, thus reducing the prison population for a state that has the highest incarceration rate in the world—higher even than Russia, Iraq, Iran, and every other country on earth.)

Dardenne, for his part, said his position on offering his endorsement “evolved over time,” according to nola.com. He and Edwards have kept the lines of communication open since the primary election and Edwards has repeatedly, even during the campaign leading up to the Oct. 24 primary, referred to Dardenne and Angelle as honorable men and “dedicated public servants.”

As for Vitter, when the state’s senior U.S. Senator said during one of his rare debate appearances that Edwards had voted for President Obama, Edwards replied, “Yes, I did vote for Obama but I never voted for David Vitter.”

Dardenne’s endorsement is significant in two ways:

It is extremely rare for a Republican to endorse a Democrat, or vice-versa, and

It sends an unmistakable message to his supporters that his brand of dirty politics is beyond the pale, even for Louisiana.

And while the Republicans in the Louisiana House have voted to endorse Vitter—no surprise there considering the gutless servitude to Jindal during his eight pitiful years in office—the Senate Republicans in so many words told its House counterparts to take a walk.

Vitter must be feeling the early symptoms of panic.

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