Author Archives: bucktownpirate
Originally posted on CenLamar:
Despite the fact that Jindal is now in the middle of a busy legislative session, which, as anyone from Louisiana can tell you, consumes almost every second of the Governor’s schedule, he somehow managed to find time for the good people of New York City. He may live in Baton Rouge, but he can see Manhattan from his
house mansion. And as he explains in his editorial, he is deeply concerned that their new Mayor, Bill de Blasio, is actually doing what voters elected him, in a landslide, to do. Mayor de Blasio, audaciously, ran and was…
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Originally posted on Something Like the Truth:
By Robert Mann
Considering the passion Gov. Bobby Jindal devoted to his big speech on religious liberty earlier this month at the Ronald Reagan Library, you’d think he would have been all over the airwaves this week.
Surely, if Jindal really believed what he said about a “silent war” on religious liberty, he should have publicly begged Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to sign legislation, passed by her state’s legislature, to permit business owners to deny service to gays, lesbians and other people on religious grounds.
Brewer, of course, vetoed the legislation after it became a national embarrassment to the Republican Party and cast Arizona in a most-negative light. Even the NFL threatened to pull next year’s Super Bowl from the state. In the end, Brewer had no choice but bow to the will of her state’s business leaders and reject to this morally repugnant bill.
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Originally posted on Something Like the Truth:
By Robert Mann
Tuesday’s Baton Rouge Advocate did not deliver good news to Gov. Bobby Jindal. Does he have a budding revolt on his hands? (In other states, this is known as “legislators thinking for themselves.”)
Does the small spark of independence we’re seeing portend a difficult legislative session for Jindal this spring?
Here’s why there may be some cause for concern (or celebration, depending on one’s point of view):
In a front-page story about the growing costs of the state’s TOPS program, Jindal’s handpicked House Education Committee chairman, Steve Carter, implies that nothing will change with the state-funded college tuition program until Jindal quits taking orders from the widow of late Louisiana oilman Patrick Taylor.
Here’s how reporter Koran Addo reports it:
Another problem is that TOPS, in its current form, has one very strong supporter in Phyllis M. Taylor, chairwoman of the Patrick…
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As if you needed more evidence.
Originally posted on CenLamar:
Laws like the LSEA have fostered and enabled a climate of religious intolerance; they have served as a permission slip for public school teachers to bully and proselytize to students, as evidenced in the recent case in Sabine Parish. There, an 11-year-old Buddhist child was humiliated and bullied…
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Originally posted on CenLamar:
A couple of weeks ago, a producer for the British television news channel ITV sent me an e-mail asking for help on a story they were putting together. Somehow, they had stumbled across my essay “Why ’12 Years a Slave’ Will Always Matter to Louisiana,” and they were interested in exploring my thesis: That Louisiana has failed at properly acknowledging the role and the legacy of slavery.
I was, of course, flattered by the pitch, and I was even more impressed that the producer immediately and intuitively understood that the story wasn’t really mine. She wasn’t asking to interview me, necessarily; she was asking me to share my notes. I gave her my phone number, and the next day, we talked for about a half an hour.
“It’s going to be difficult to find a white person in Louisiana, especially someone who owns a plantation, to admit, on…
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Louisiana’s worst kept secret is no longer a secret. David Vitter is running for Governor in 2015.
Clown college is back in session for the umpteenth time in the last several years, a signature piece of Bobby Jindal’s Legislative Agenda was struck down in a Louisiana Court. Which begs the question:
If you pass laws that are unconstitutional are you really passing anything at all?
When does the Jindal Administration begin to wear the “lawless radicals” badge?
Either way, a Baton Rouge State Judge struck down Jindal’s teacher tenure law on constitutional grounds. This is the second time the law has been ruled unconstitutional, as the Supreme Court vacated the original reasoning and asked for a rehearing:
State District Judge Michael Caldwell issued his new ruling Wednesday.
Caldwell ruled in March that the legislation was unconstitutional because it bundled together too many items spanning Louisiana’s education laws. But the Louisiana Supreme Court vacated Caldwell’s decision in May and asked him to re-evaluate his ruling.
Caldwell heard arguments in December, and came to same conclusion.
Last week, we took a swipe at trying to ascertain what it was that the “Fund for Louisiana’s Future” was truly about. We took a gander at a limited breadth of public records and found a few things out. For example, we explored the Louisiana-based address listed for the fund. And we further perused the owner of said home, speculating on what Mr. Callihan had to do with VitterPAC.
It turns out, Tom Aswell over at the Louisiana Voice did a little more digging and connected a few dots:
But The Daily Kingfish noted that while Spies is the mover and shaker behind the effort to remove the state’s contribution cap, the Louisiana address for FFL is 6048 Marshall Foch Street in the Lakeview area of New Orleans.
That’s the address at the bottom of FFL’s web page and it just happens to be the home of Bill Callihan, a director at Capital One Bank.
Okay, nothing wrong with this picture so far.
Vitter is prohibited by federal election rules from coordinating for the Super PAC and does not personally participate in fundraising activities.
Again, nothing wrong so far.
FFL has scheduled its Louisiana Bayou Weekend for Sept. 5-7, 2014 with Vitter as “special guest.” Invitees will have the opportunity to participate in Cajun cooking, an airboat swamp tour and an alligator hunt.
While Vitter can appear at the Super PAC event, he is prohibited from soliciting contributions.
And this is where the picture becomes somewhat muddled.
Courtney Guastella Callihan—Callihan’s wife—is listed on invitations as the contact person for the Bayou Weekend.
She also served as Vitter’s campaign financial director, a dual role that blurs the distinction between her function with the Super PAC and Vitter’s Senate campaign.
So, that explains that. Callihan isn’t the Vitter connection, so much as his wife is. And the Voice takes it a step or two further:
So the question now becomes is Courtney Callihan on the payroll of both Vitter’s Senate campaign committee and FFL?
If so, that could conceivably bring real legal problems with the FEC.
Worth watching. Vitter’s dalliances with campaign finance laws might be invisible to most voters now, but a wiley opponent might be motivated to attach himself to this very Washington, DC operation and punish Vitter for this potential serious campaign finance sin.
David Vitter’s VitterPAC has made some news lately, specifically in its attempt to blow the cap off of donations here in Louisiana. But who exactly is behind this thing?
Spies recalls his first political memory as his father — then a Republican-appointed U.S. attorney — was fired when Jimmy Carter won the presidency in 1976…“The verdict may be out on how helpful super PACs were in the general election,” he said. But “it’s indisputable that in a primary election, it’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity.”
So, Spies is the mover behind this, and other, rightwing SuperPACs. But who’s the local connection? Is there one?
First, the Fund’s listed address is 6048 Marshall Foch Street in the Lakeview part of New Orleans. That’s strange for a number of reasons, most notably because the fund obviously resides in Washington, DC (see the DC lawyer, Spies, and the ’202′ area code on their phone number). Hmmm.
Who lives at 6048 Marshall Foch Street? It seems to be this man, on the left in the blazer, Bill Callihan. From the internets, we find that he is a Director at Capital One bank. Perhaps a fiscal agent for the fund? Not so fast.
This statement of organization from the IRS shows that Spies is the Treasurer/Chairman and that the fund uses “Chain Bridge Bank” in McLean, VA. That’s the Dick Cheney part of Virginia, somewhat close to the CIA headquarters.
So, Callihan is, at the very least, “housing” the organization in Louisiana in order to give the appearance that it isn’t just a total DC-based operation parachuting into LA to elect David Vitter Governor.
As these things go, they’re supposed to be opaque. The entire concept of these “SuperPAC’s” is to obscure the origin of the money on which they feast. The Federal sides can already take unlimited donations. VItterPAC is working dilligently on making sure they can take unlimited contributions to use for a LAGOV race (i.e. a non-Federal, Louisiana-only campaign). Currently, while Federal law allows multi-million dollar cheques to be written without constraint, Louisiana election law says that money PAC raised for state races is limited to cheques of $100,000 at a time. VitterPAC hopes to change this forever.
Back to this mysterious siting. The New Orleans address is, in and of itself, not illegal or even that unusual. However, since VitterPAC operates under the shroud of secrecy afforded to it by IRS code, it will always generate the requisite level of mystery. Why here? And why in New Orleans? Worth watching.
Simultaneously, it is pure charade that VitterPAC claims it won’t be “coordinating” with a potential David Vitter LAGOV run. Of course, this is the joke of our election law today. As Stephen Colbert smartly broke down, SuperPACs are a lie we tell ourselves in politics. The rules are a joke. They’re easy to bend and shred. Candidates can appear at fundraisers for their supporting SuperPAC’s, but they can’t say the words “give us money.” Instead, they can just appear as a guest and folks are supposed to believe that this maintains the Chinese wall.
Whatever the case, we hope the media looks more closely at VitterPAC. Unlimited money in politics is a fundamental corruption. Louisiana’s been able to avoid it up until now. But once the seal is broken, the genie cannot be placed back into the bottle.
The Vitter-for-governor boomlet hasn’t yet fully bloomed and the Sinator’s allies have already injected the corrosive post-Citizens United money chase into the electoral calculus.
According to the Times-Pic, the Fund For Louisiana’s Future (or, VitterPAC, as we’ll refer to it) is challenging the current Louisiana contribution limits:
Lawyers for the Fund for Louisiana’s Future, the Super PAC created to support Sen. David Vitter, R-La., say Louisiana’s Board of Ethics really doesn’t have a choice but to grant its request to end enforcement of Louisiana’s $100,000 limit on independent committee donations.
If the ethics board agrees, the result could be million-dollar contributions to campaign committees in Louisiana — much as is the case already for super PACs nationally.
The Supreme Court‘s 2010 ruling that equated spending on independent political expenditures with free speech, and a follow-up ruling by a Washington D.C. appeals court, makes it clear that such limits are unconstitutional, lawyers for the Fund for Louisiana’s Future say.
This challenge is in line with the longterm trend among rightwingers throughout the country to challenge any contribution limits as abridgments of free speech. This project, hatched by arch-conservative activists decades ago (like James Bopp), hopes to remove the reigns of contribution limits in order to allow giant business and activist donations to mostly conservative causes. The richest 1%, now unburdened by contribution limits, can now more easily control politics and affect policy to maintain or expand inequality to their advantage, or work on any number of rightwing fantasies (banning abortion, privatizing all services, dismantling the social safety net, etc.). That’s the whole game.
Anyway, VitterPAC isn’t waiting until it passes go before it fires a warning shot: it will be aggressively fighting to open the floodgates of arch-conservative cash to out-spend Vitter’s potential rivals in the 2015 LAGOV race. In a small state like Louisiana with cheap media rates, a Romney-esqe SuperPAC pummeling Vitter’s opponents would be essential to deflect from the inevitable rehashing of the “serious sins” that will no-doubt play much larger in the parochial Governor’s race than it did in the anti-Obama Senate race.
Laughably, and typically, the VitterPAC claims it HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH DAVID VITTER’S CAMPAIGN:
Still, [Lawyer] Ryan said that both federal and state regulators, as well as the courts, need to tighten definitions of independent expenditures, which, under the Supreme Court ruling, can be funded with unlimited donations from both corporations and individuals. He wonders how the Fund for Louisiana’s Future, which was formed entirely to back Vitter’s political campaigns, can be truly independent of the Republican senator.
In their filing with the ethics board, Spires, who chaired Mitt Romney’s Super Pac during the 2012 presidential campaign and Tyrrell insist their Super PAC is indeed independent.
“Written confidentiality and firewall policies are in place to ensure that Fund for Louisiana’s Future will in no way coordinate its political communications or activities with any candidates, their committee or their agents,” they wrote.
According to campaign finance data, Galliano Marine Services of Cut Off, and GMAA LLC, a New Orleans medical business operated by Keith and Mary Van Meter, each contributed $100,000 to Vitter’s PAC in April.
These filings always trail the contributions by months. The Louisiana Democratic Party has adeptly scooped up www.VitterForGovernor.com, which highlights one of VitterPAC’s latest fundraisers, a gator hunt in May. We’ll continue to follow the VitterPAC money here.