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Bobby Jindal’s slow-motion voucher disaster continues to roll. The State Legislative Auditor released a highly-critical new report focused on the lack of accountability and potential for graft in Jindal’s voucher scheme:
The state Department of Education has inadequate criteria to make sure schools are academically prepared to handle the number of voucher students they serve, Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera said in a report issued Monday morning.
The agency also lacks enough oversight to ensure that the schools have the physical capacity for the students they request, Purpera said in a two-page summary that accompanied the review.
The auditor goes on to say that, in essence, the state basically has no idea if the schools receiving tax dollars for voucher kids are even physically equipped to educate children, let alone meet academic standards. More:
The review said that, while public schools have to be rated A or B by the state to accept voucher students, “there are no legal requirements in place to ensure non-public schools that participate in the program are academically acceptable.”
The state Department of Eduation’s review process “lacks formal criteria to ensure that schools have both the academic and physical capacity to serve the number of scholarship students they requested.”
The proficiency rating for schools particiapting in the voucher program is 41 percent, the report says, which is based on the percentage of students who scored at grade level or above on standardized tests during the 2012-13 school year, which was the first for the expanded program.
Purpera also said the department has not set standards or measures in its accountability system for removing a school from the program for academic performance.
The state also overpaid or underpaid 41 percent of the 118 schools that took part in the 2012-13 academic year, according to the Legisltive Auditor’s office.
No institutional control. A failure of administration of the highest order. But Jindal continues to stick by his corrupt schemes and his embattled Department of Ed chief, John White. And by the looks of this work, this spiraling embarrassment has only just begun.
DOE vehicles for personal use after Vallas fiasco? Never! Now they just lease ‘em year-round for 7 DOE employees
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.
Fainting spells were reported across the Gret Stet today as rumors of a final decision on the Canal Street John on his entry into the Governor race in 2015. According to the world’s greatest hotel doormat, USA TODAY (we KID!):
Sen. David Vitter says he’ll decide by January whether to run for governor of Louisiana in 2015.
The Republican senator, elected in 2004, told the Associated Press that he’ll send out an e-mail Wednesday to let supporters know of his interest in the 2015 race. Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican often mentioned as a potential presidential candidate, cannot run again because of term limits.
“This is the logical time to do it, if I’m ever going to do it,” Vitter told the AP.
Vitter is one of the more popular politicians in Louisiana, with a job-approval rating of over 58% in a recent Southern Media & Opinion Research poll. He has attracted headlines in the past few months for his fight against President Obama’s health care law, saying he wants to make sure that members of Congress and their staffs don’t get special treatment.
Vitter has rebounded from a 2007 scandal in which his phone number was found among a client list of the so-called D.C. Madam. He apologized for what he called a “very serious sin.”
The good news for the Sinator? The whore scandal that would have brought down any human candidate (for the Sinator is not a human, but a cold-blooded reptilian humanoid, of course) is now in the 4th ‘graph of his mini-bio! That’s progress!!
Still, what David Vitter lacks in a pulse, he more than makes up for in his dastardly, almost evil genius-like, ability to concoct crafty, laser-focused political coups against his enemies. In the Game of Thrones that is Louisiana politics, Vitter is the vicious, deadly, and ruthless Little Finger. Scorned by many, with a sordid past, but willing to do what it takes to destroy those in his way.
Recall, as well, that David Vitter has a SuperPAC roving out there. He was a “SPECIAL GUEST” at the latest gator round-up in the spring, and if that’s any indication, he’s already begun to think about 2015 more seriously than he’s letting on. People don’t just go skirting campaign finance laws to raise money for a SuperPAC that purportedly isn’t “supporting David Vitter directly,” but so obviously is unless they have something big in mind.
We postulated all the way back in February that the only candidate we see that can beat the Sinator is Mayor Mitchell Landrieu. We went as far to endorse him and we re-up that endorsement. Mitch Landrieu for Governor, 2015. Period.
Recent polling has been inconclusive. We’re still too far away from the campaign. But Mayor Mitch is definitely a force to be dealt with for the Sinator.
The Landrieu family name might be the best thing Democrats in Louisiana have going for them. Looking ahead to the 2015 race for Governor, Mitch Landrieu has an early lead over both of the high profile Republicans we tested against him in hypothetical match ups. He’s up 45/42 on Senator David Vitter and 45/35 on Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne.
Landrieu has very strong statewide favorability numbers- 44% of voters in the state have a favorable opinion of him to just 24% with a negative one. His popularity with Democrats is predictable but even among Republicans he comes close to breaking even with a 30/31 favorability spread. He leads the two GOP hopefuls because like his sister he pulls 20-23% of the Republican vote in the head to heads.
Landrieu has about $1.6m on hand for a walkover Mayoral relection coming this February. We haven’t heard of any real competition, but someone from New Orleans will update on that for sure. If he spends lightly, he’ll be well-positioned to have a top 5 warchest for the 2015 race even before he announces his intentions.
Still, everyone waiting to exhale only has to wait one (!!!!!) more month to hear what the Sinator is going to do. Winter is coming.
From the always smart Cenlamar…
Originally posted on CenLamar:
In less than thirty days, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal will make a final decision on whether he wants to accept, according to a report published by his own Department of Health and Hospitals, as much as $25 billion from the federal government in order to guarantee and expand health care coverage for as many as 653,000 poor and working class Louisiana families and individuals. By all indications, it appears that Jindal will continue to dig in his heels, arguing that accepting the money would stick Louisiana taxpayers with a worst-case-scenario bill for $1.7 billion over the next ten years. If he does, in fact, decide to pass on receiving billions and billions of dollars in aid to which Louisiana is already entitled, Bobby Jindal will solidify, permanently, his legacy as the worst Governor in the history of the Great State of Louisiana. And he will prove, once and for all, that he never cared about Louisiana, that he always considered his office on the fourth floor of the Capitol Building and his mansion across the street as nothing more than temporary rental property.
To be sure, there may be some folks who still support Jindal and believe his opposition to Medicaid expansion is a prudent and fiscally responsible action. But these people are wrong. It has nothing to do with the budget or with state finances; it’s about politics, plain and simple. It’s about Bobby Jindal’s desire to earn media attention by pretending like he’s an intellectual political leader opposed to anything and everything that bears the imprimatur of President Barack Obama, regardless of how it impacts the people he was elected to serve.
Five years ago, when George W. Bush was still President, Bobby Jindal asked the federal government to expand Louisiana Medicaid. He wanted the federal government to provide enough money to ensure that everyone in “District 5″ would be able to access Medicaid financing. He pitched it as a “pilot program,” and he hoped it would go statewide. But there was a catch: Bobby Jindal wasn’t asking the federal government to improve Medicaid; he was asking the federal government to spend billions subsidizing his friends in the private insurance industry. In typical Jindal fashion, he wanted the government to underwrite private industry, which is the definition of crony socialism. At the same time, though, he promoted his idea as fostering free-market “choice” and denounced any plans to strengthen public services and institutions as “government-run” or “government giveaways.”
Horrible news for Louisiana children as Jindal uses a dead news day before Thanksgiving to dump a load of terrible voucher school results (and potentially just the tip of the iceberg, as DoE hasn’t released all the stats yet).
At least 45 percent of students in Louisiana’s controversial voucher program last year attended schools with performance scores in the D to F range of the state’s grading scale, according to data the state released Wednesday.
The full impact of the program cannot be assessed, however, because the state released scores only for one-fifth of the 118 schools in the program. The schools for which data was provided served 2,888 of the nearly 5,000 students who used vouchers last year.
And it gets worse. Vouchergate continues to spiral out of control, blowing millions of tax dollars on horrible private schools that don’t help kids succeed:
The limited data raises questions about how the high-profile program can be held accountable to taxpayers. Voucher schools are only lightly vetted on the front end, with state Superintendent John White promising in 2012 that he would hold schools accountable based on academic results. The average voucher costs $5,245, meaning possibly $11 million in state dollars went to schools with no publicly released accountability score.
The state released the scores in a report Wednesday, several days after a federal judge ruled the U.S. Department of Justice had the right to monitor the program to ensure it does not worsen racial segregation. In the political fight over the case, Gov. Bobby Jindal has said vouchers gave underprivileged children a shot at a better education.
Bobby Jindal’s experiments on Louisiana have spawned a Frankenstein monster of calamities. From burning down Higher Education in Louisiana to crushing public hospitals, to a completely broken budget, to vouchergate; the Jindal administration continues to pile on failures.
Originally posted on CenLamar:
Fifty-three years ago, John F. Kennedy stood before an audience in Houston, Texas and delivered, what was at the time, the single most important speech of his political career. It wasn’t about civil rights or national security or foreign policy, and it wasn’t about putting a man on the moon (that speech was also delivered in Houston, two years later).
His speech was about his religion, Roman Catholicism.
From this weekend’s Advocate:
Talk about a cheap laugh. President Barack Obama had them rolling in the aisles a few weeks ago and all he had to do was quote Louisiana Congressman John Fleming.
That was not the first time Fleming had made an ass of himself far beyond our borders, and now he has done it again.
Since Fleming is a physician, there must be a suspicion that he couldn’t possibly be as dumb as he seems, and that he is faking it on the theory that no one likes a smart-ass where he lives in Minden. Either way, residents all over Louisiana must squirm every time he opens his mouth.
But Fleming was not discouraged by the reaction to his tomfoolery, and evidently believes no Republican can go wrong attacking Obama, however brainless the pretext. So now he has launched into Obama after he and the other living presidents recorded versions of the Gettysburg address for filmmaker Ken Burns.
Some versions of the speech contain the words “under God” and some don’t, and whether Lincoln uttered them on the battle site is unknown. The version Burns asked Obama to record omitted the reference to the Almighty. It was just the luck of the draw, although it was no surprise that Rush Limbaugh evidently had one of his fits about it.
But we like our congressmen to be more rational. We can’t call them out every time they make a dumb remark, but there comes a time when we have to cry enough. That time came a couple of days ago when Fleming put out a statement accusing Obama of a “mean-spirited and inexcusable bias” against religion.
Blogger and rabble rouser extraordinaire CB Forgotston has landed in an interesting place. Bobby Jindal’s candidate for Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District, Neil Riser, advertised that he was the choice of the “TEA Party of Louisiana.” After the thrashing Riser took over the weekend, there are probably many recriminations in the Jindal camp over this latest disaster. Forgotston has dredged up one trivial, but perhaps intriguing, nugget regarding Riser’s astroturf campaign:
If you followed the recent special election for the LA 5th Congressional District you probably read and heard in the state and national paid media that Neil Riser had the endorsement of “The TEA Party of Louisiana.”
If you are as naive as I am, you probably took that to mean that an “umbrella” group of the various TEA Party chapters in LA had come together behind Riser.
Then I began hearing members of local TEA Parties say that Riser had refused to come to various meetings of the groups in the 5th District. Riser’s opponent, now Congressman-Elect Vance McAllister did attend the meeting and had their support.
One day a fellow contacted me claiming to be a member of the TEA Party who was upset that he was getting calls from “The TEA Party of Louisiana” supporting Riser. He said if they didn’t stop calling he was going to quit the TEA Party because he supported McAllister.
So what is going on here? To the untrained eye, the “TEA Party” support would be critical in this ultra-conservative district. Yet, the winner of the contest, newly-minted Congressman Vance Mcallister, supported the Medicaid Expansion under Obamacare. Riser’s consultants tried to smash him with that. Instead, Riser was smashed. What’s going on here? Forgotston has more:
I did a Google search for “The TEA Party of Louisiana.” I turned up a “TEA Party of Louisiana.” It even has a website (here) where they endorsed Neil Riser for the 5thCongressional District.
The website accepts donations via the Internet, but provides no physical location, mailing address or names of the officers.
Next, I checked with the LA Secretary of State’s Website to get more information on the group. There was no “TEA Party of Louisiana” registered.
The closest name I could find was “LOUISIANA TEA PARTY, L.L.C” in Baton Rouge. The mailing address is: C/O CECIL CAVANAUGH, 10165 GRANDEUR, BATON ROUGE, LA 70815
However, this group is listed as “Inactive” by “Action by Secretary of State.”
Who endorsed Riser?
This leaves me with the questions of, other than a website, what or who is the “TEA Party of Louisiana” that endorsed Neil Riser? Who paid for the calls or other activities on Riser’s behalf in the 5th District?