Lee Zurik and Nola.com are unfolding a fascinating look at Louisiana’s corrupt river of campaign cash this week. One of the stories is particularly piquant: “Louisiana law silent on whether candidates must return illegal contributions“
It turns out that the old story about Bobby Jindal’s 2007 campaign wasn’t quite dead. During his run for Governor in ’07, Jindal collected $55,000 from figures connected with “Central Progressive Bank,” a newly created, and soon to fail, bank in St. Tammany Parish. Unfortunately, that $55,000 didn’t come from numerous sources as was claimed. In fact, the Bank’s executives funneled that money from a single source. That is illegal. However, when it comes to returning the cash, the Jindal campaign has been sitting on its hands:
Blossman was indicted for the campaign finance violations and other unrelated charges in May 2012, and Jindal’s campaign was revealed as the recipient of the money a month later. That’s when the campaign said it learned the donations were illegal. Jindal political adviser Timmy Teepell, who ran the governor’s 2007 campaign, said this week the money was accepted “in good faith.”
What’s good for the goose, however, is not good for the gander. In another story revealed just yesterday, the Jindal administration bowed to pressure from Sinator David Vitter to prosecute food stamp recipients that received extra money on their cards because of a computer malfunction.
“The recent over-the-top food stamp theft and fraud gave Louisiana and the program a real black eye,” said Vitter. “I’m certainly glad the state is acting on my urgent suggestion. I look forward to discussing the details with Secretary (Susan) Sonnier in my upcoming meeting with her and Attorney General (Buddy) Caldwell.”
Officials denied that Vitter’s recent remarks had anything to do with the state’s decision to pursue people who used their benefits fraudulently.
Other than the fact that the Jindal admin is getting punked by the Sinator. By tacking to his right on prosecuting the poor over possible food stamp scams, Vitter is putting Jindal on blast with the wingnuts. He can’t afford these hits as he continues to flail about in order to appeal to the grassroots tea baggers that will be choosing the 2016 GOP nominee.
Let’s review then, shall we? Bobby Jindal takes illegal campaign cash in 2007, and he sloughs it off, paying it back 6 years later. The poor get extra food stamp cash through a system malfunction? Prosecute!!
Perhaps it is time to drop the kabuki show: Bill Cassidy might not make it to 2014. A series of embarrassing articles continue to surface, including (GASP) this nugget:
In 1988, while living in California, Cassidy penned a letter to The State-Times, a now defunct afternoon newspaper in Baton Rouge. In the letter, Cassidy mocked anyone who would vote for George H.W. Bush for president and suggested Louisiana residents vote for Michael Dukakis. In a sarcastic tone, Cassidy “thanked” voters for supporting Bush because the Republican president would ultimately help California by increasing defense spending while Louisiana suffered economically during the oil bust because of falling prices.
“You see, when the federal government takes care of poor people, education, health care, roads and the elderly, you people get a lot of that money,” he wrote, according to a copy obtained by POLITICO from archives of the newspaper. “If you begin to realize that patriotism has nothing to do with any of this, tell yourself that there was nothing that the Republicans could have done about the fall in oil prices. Of course, I know better.”
He continued, “Please do me one favor, dear Louisianans. Never ask yourself if you’re better off now than you were eight years ago. If you do, you might wake up, you might vote for a change.”
Let’s just put it out on the table. This is devastating for Cassidy. Let us look no further than Kentucky, or Texas, or Missouri, to notice one ripe truth about today’s modern GOP: the tea baggers at the grass roots are running the show. Whether it’s Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, or Todd Akin, the ultra right-wing is propelling candidates past “establishment” choices.
Unfortunately for Doc Cassidy, he falls squarely in the latter camp.
Rob Maness, on the other hand, is making a play for the nutjob caucus, and he’s winning:
GOP Candidate Argues His Opponent Would Have Supported Slavery
A Tea Party-backed Senate candidate in Louisiana recently argued that, were his opponent Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) alive in the 18th century, she would have sided with pro-slavery forces.
[I]n August, Maness spoke at the annual RedState Gathering. He attacked Landrieu for her observation during the immigration bill markup that “The only way you get something is to become obnoxious.” Maness extrapolated from Landrieu’s statement that she would believe anyone who holds an unpopular belief is “obnoxious,” then inferred that Landrieu would have sided against anti-slavery advocates had she been alive around the country’s founding. “Senator Landrieu might have called Mrs. Adams ‘obnoxious,’ especially since she was opposed to slavery and favored women’s rights when both were very unpopular ideas,” Maness told the crowd.
Charming! He’ll fit right in with the Akins, the Sharron Angles, and all of the other loony-bin characters the tea party hoists into the spotlight.
Luckily for Maness, this is the week of GOOD news for him, as the Senate Conservatives Fund formally endorsed him:
“Colonel Rob Maness is a constitutional conservative with a remarkable record of service to our country,” Senate Conservatives Fund Executive Director Matt Hoskins said in a statement. “He understands the value of our freedoms and will fight to repeal Obamacare and stop the massive spending, bailouts, and debt that are bankrupting our country.”
From Maness’ website, we see his wingnut flag is flying high, railing against government takeovers of Education through Common Core and refusing comprehensive immigration reform.
Rob Maness is on the upswing. He’s playing right to the crowd. And Bill Cassidy is stumbling. Mary Landrieu should start paying attention to Col. Maness. He’s her real threat.
We’re about this close to creating a tumblr on the GOP delegation from Louisiana. Every day is more hilarious than the last.
Today’s topic #1:
Louisiana’s dumbest Congressman hits another one out of the park today. If he isn’t agreeing that Obamacare is worse than slavery, or mistakenly believing stories on “Abortionplexs” in The Onion, or ironically scoffing at economists’ grasp of the economic consequences of government default, he’s doing this:
Yes, just read this please:
Rep. John Fleming, R-Minden, is generating lots of media attention with his harsh criticism of the Affordable Care Act, including a statement calling it the most dangerous law ever passed by Congress.
The comment drew a direct rebuke from the president and a question from CNN’s Wolf Blitzer whether Fleming had considered an old law authorizing slavery in his evaluation of the most dangerous laws ever.
For the record Fleming stands behind his statement that the law will have “terrible consequences for millions of Americans,” though he told Blitzer on CNN he isn’t drawing comparisons with archaic laws like (slavery) that are no longer in effect.”
President Obama suggests Rep. Fleming might be exaggerating a little:
“One congressman said that Obamacare is ‘the most dangerous piece of legislation ever passed.’ Ever,” he said to laughter from his audience. “In the history of America, this is the most dangerous piece of legislation. Creating a marketplace so people can buy group insurance plans — the most dangerous ever.“
But mocking clowns like Fleming probably won’t stop his ridiculous yarns. Even GOP Rep Charles Boustany is fed up:
In a sign of the internal backlash against the right wing of the House Republican Conference, Louisiana Republican Charles Boustany questioned the political allegiances and motivations of his tea party-aligned colleagues and said they had put the GOP majority at risk in the current shutdown fight.
“There are members with a different agenda,” Boustany said Wednesday in an interview in his office. “And I’m not sure they’re Republicans and I’m not sure they’re conservative.”
Today’s #2: But just when you think Fleming could take the cake for the LAGOP faceplant of the week, we get Doc “Mumbles” Cassidy’s trainwreck of a Senate race:
His latest fundraising quarter was below expectations, falling well behind his prior quarter, and he continues to lag behind Landrieu’s pace.
Cassidy’s campaign said he brought in $700,000 from July through Sept. 30 and has more than $3.4 million in bank, compared to Landrieu’s $1.4 million haul in that same timeframe and $5.8 million in her campaign account.
Meanwhile, the congressman’s trying to fight off attacks from the right and the ever-present whispers that he’s just not the right candidate to beat Landrieu, who’s in her third term despite assessments each election cycle that she’s vulnerable to ouster.
One Republican state representative is considering jumping into the Senate race, while another GOP state senator keeps letting speculation linger that he’s eyeing the seat as well.
The Senate Conservatives Fund, a group that has been wading more deeply into Republican primaries lately, on Monday added retired U.S. Air Force Col. Rob Maness (R) of Louisiana to the roster of candidates it is backing.
“Colonel Rob Maness is a constitutional conservative with a remarkable record of service to our country,” Senate Conservatives Fund Executive Director Matt Hoskins said in a statement. “He understands the value of our freedoms and will fight to repeal Obamacare and stop the massive spending, bailouts, and debt that are bankrupting our country.“
Started by Jim DeMint during his days as a South Carolina senator, the group has often butted heads with establishment Republicans with whom it has been at odds in some Senate races over the years.
Oh, and legal cheat Elbert Guillory is still considering the race. LAGOP doing a great job! A fine week for the delegation, all around.
The slowly-deflating balloon that is Doc Cassidy’s #LASEN campaign just lost a lot more air. According to early reports from the 3rd Q of fundraising numbers, Cassidy raised only $700k in this quarter. By comparison, Mary Landrieu hauled in nearly twice as much at $1.35m.
Cassidy also made a curious reference during his fundraising release, noting he had raised more than former Democrat John Kennedy during Kennedy’s run against Landrieu as a Republican in 2008. Unfortunately, Cassidy failed to note that Kennedy lost that race by more than 5 points.
Cassidy’s has only increased his available cash on hand by $200k by the end of Q3, indicating an extremely-high burn rate at this early point of the race. If he doesn’t right his campaign’s financial ship, he’ll have fallen far behind Landrieu at the critical opening gun of the 2014 race.
This is the latest crack in Cassidy’s status as the anointed-GOP challenger to Senator Landrieu. Just last week, the LAGOP quietly condoned North Louisiana conservative Rep. Alan Seabaugh’s open rumination on entering the race as the “real conservative.” Previously, Cassidy was excluded from a critical gathering of rightwing activists at a conference in New Orleans.
Cassidy’s awkward rightward tilt has produced similarly disappointing results. He was viciously mocked by the Daily Show just last week for his raw hypocrisy over the Government shutdown.
Things are not awesome for Doc Cassidy. First, he’s pillared on the Daily Show as a disingenuous panderer. Now, it looks like his mushy-mouth moderation isn’t working for for Louisiana Republicans in this hyper-partisan world. Reports have surfaced this week that the LAGOP is no longer discouraging other GOPers from entering the LASEN race to try to unseat Senator Mary Landrieu.
The teeth-grinding among GOPers isn’t over:
LaFaxNet – Stop the Presses! By Lou Gehrig Burnett
Will Seabaugh seek Senate seat?
The Louisiana Republican Party seems to be having a lot of indecision over who should be the candidate to take on incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, who is seeking a fourth six-year term in 2014.
It was thought that U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy of Baton Rouge, who represents the 6th Congressional District, was the anointed one to carry the GOP banner.
But then a retired Air Force colonel by the name of Rob Maness of Madisonville jumped into the race and began picking up endorsements from several tea party and conservative groups.
That gave the impression that many conservative Republicans do not believe Cassidy is conservative enough to defeat Landrieu. The latest independent poll gave Landrieu a 10-point lead over Cassidy.
Now comes a new wrinkle to the race. State Rep. Alan Seabaugh, a Republican from Shreveport, is giving consideration to entering the U.S. Senate race. He would be another burr under the saddle for Cassidy.
That’s because Seabaugh is from a part of the state that is very conservative, and, therefore, would take more votes away from Cassidy. It is also thought that Maness will have some support in northwest Louisiana.
How the leaders of the state Republican Party handle this chaos will be interesting to watch.
Yikes. Another slap in the face to Cassidy, who has suffered an anemic start to his campaign. The LAGOP is on its way to blowing this chance to put up a strong challenge to Mary Landrieu.
UPDATE: Statement on the Seabaugh stir from Andrew Zucker, Comm Director for the Campaign for Louisiana (LaDems Indy Exp):
“Republicans can’t be excited about contrasting Bill Cassidy’s record of shutting down the government in order to block implementing the same health care reforms he tried to pass at the state level in ’07 with Mary Landrieu’s record of fighting for Louisiana and getting real results, so it comes as no surprise that they’re already looking for alternatives.”
- Andrew Zucker, Communications Director, Campaign for Louisiana
By Robert Mann
It was an article of faith among some Republicans that President Obama's reelection was doomed because voters would stampede to the polls in anger over Obamacare. So, how'd that turn out? Election results notwithstanding, Republicans believe Americans hate Obamacare. That presumes, of course, they understand it, which they don't, because Obama so poorly communicated its provisions. In the House, however, Republicans have voted
The annual Redstate conference, spawned by the blog/circle jerk curated by Georgia tea bagger impresario Erik Erikson apparently took place in New Orleans this past weekend. Many conservative luminaries appeared, including intellectual heavyweights Rick Perry and Nikki Haley who were featured speakers, as was teahaddist Ted Cruz. Ever the attention hound, Governor Jindal also graced the stage in front of tri-corner hat wearing activists and various other white nationalists.
One person that wasn’t invited was Louisiana Senate candidate Bill Cassidy. And his absence was conspicuous. Louisiana’s GOP base is heavily populated by the tea bag right, and Cassidy will need these nuts to win.
Unfortunately, Cassidy wasn’t included on the program. In fact, he was hardly acknowledged. And it isn’t a surprise.
“I’m just not a big fan of Bill Cassidy,” Erickson said in an interview Saturday, confirming that an invitation was not extended to Cassidy, who is challenging incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., next year.
All along, Cassidy has been the candidate of the Republican establishment in DC. They see his moderate record as a controllable alternative to a “wacko bird” like Senators Ted Cruz or Mike Lee. Cassidy, on the other hand, is just a generic republican and someone who will take orders well. This is exactly the type of Republican tea baggers hate.
Attempts to clear the field in Louisiana (including Vitter’s work to sideline rightwing Congressman Fleming from entering the field) for Cassidy show that he isn’t the choice of the activist base. Cassidy’s moderate record and squishiness certainly won’t stand up well under scrutiny of the ’16 LASEN race.
As the redstate snub indicates, Cassidy has a long way to go to activate the tea bag base in Louisiana. And without that motivated core, he’ll have an even tougher time beating Mary Landrieu.
More embarrassingly, Cassidy’s tea bag rival, Rob Maness, was invited to close out the conference. Maness has done very little in terms of fundraising or campaigning, but he shared the final stage as a highlight of the conference. That’s not just a cold shoulder to Cassidy, but rather an ice bath.
By all accounts, the permanent presidential campaign of one Piyush “Bobby” Jindal has not been going well, to say the least. With sinking approval approval ratings, and several bad openings on the national stage, the only folks still riding Jindal’s circus train are the demented right-wing weirdos that worry about fluorinated water corrupting their essence.
Now, that will get you into a presidential field. Just ask Rick Santorum or Tom Tancredo. But if your aspirations are more than a freakish sideshow in Iowa or a gig screaming at the Fox News cameras, it’s sort of a career dead end. And Bobby Jindal is not one subjugate his ambitions.
Jindal’s lap around the state, coupled with his breast-beating call to arms to the conservative corps, seems the prelude to his next great political quest. My guess is the governor is preparing himself to run against Sen. Mary Landrieu next year. Not necessarily because he wants to, but because he has to. Opposing Landrieu may be essential to not only furthering his national ambition but also remaining relevant in state politics in years to come.
Assessing his situation, Jindal may realize that his presidential prospects for 2016 are less than stellar, but, in future years, still hopeful. The Senate would give him a political life while he waits for his time to come.
And with this clarion call, from the well-sourced dean of political trendsetters in Louisiana, the Jindal for Senate campaign begins. Yes, Louisiana should elect Jindal so he can waste more time, now as one of our two US Senators, running for president. A cynical commitment to ambition that could only be matched by some of the great demagogues.
But in terms of his race against Mary Landrieu? WE CAN’T WAIT.
Bobby Jindal’s tenure as Governor is rich (and getting richer) with hypocrisy, cronyism, monstrously unpopular decisions and overreaches. His 38% approval is only the beginning. Compared to moderate Congressman Bill Cassidy (who is backed by David Vitter), Jindal might be the rightwing candidate. But he also might be the most damaged political candidate to run since Edwin Edwards or David Duke. Jindal has been raked over the coals with vigor by fiscal hawks, the black caucus and the reinvigorated Louisiana Democratic Party.
In the words of George W. Bush, “Bring it on.”
Bill Cassidy has a problem. And it’s not just Mary Landrieu’s formidable reelection machine.
No, Bill Cassidy’s problem is that his career is born of a contradiction. On one hand, Dr. Cassidy is the affable, moderate liver specialist at Louisiana’s former public hospital in Baton Rouge, Earl K. Long.
On the other hand, politician and Senate-candidate Cassidy is robust opponent of “government-run” health care and President Obama’s Affordable Care Act (which of course is not government run health care, but rather an the incentivizing of care through the private market).
Squishy Bill Cassidy would like it both ways. He’d prefer to make political hay over his fist-shaking at the Federal Government. This kind of vacuous, empty rhetorical politics truly resonates with the blinded-by derangement tea-bagging set. Their politics of resentment are conspicuously devoid of factual information or adherence to reality. But they sloganeer with the best of them. And their obsession with Obamacare as the scourge on the American soul is the most volatile political weapon they possess.
However, Cassidy is a creature of the beast. Instead of the imaginary Government-run health care system he admonishes, Cassidy emerges from the belly of the genuine article.
Let us set this straight. The Charity System is Socialized Medicine. If we need to repeat, you’re not thinking hard enough.
Cassidy worked at “the Earl” for about two decades and developed a lot of “camaraderie” there.
“Do I have some mixed emotions? Absolutely,” Cassidy said.
The Earl K. Long had an “incredibly noble” mission of helping the underserved, Cassidy said. But over the years the patient lines continued to get longer and the medical center was “continually starved of resources,” he said.
“It often felt like it was our team against the world,” Cassidy added.
Politically, Cassidy opposes too much government-run health care and he also backs the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, often known as Obamacare.
“It’s a really complicated set of issues,” Cassidy said.
Cassidy bemoans the budget cuts (but, starve the government beast! Right Bill?) that his ideology prizes as its raison d’etre. His next statement is both laughably hypocritical and pointedly delusional as well:
Cassidy said. “One of the problems I have with government-run health care is when the government runs health care, the people don’t have power.”
Cassidy’s civics might be a little rusty, since he’s been a government employee for so long, so let us resolve this logical quandary for Dr. Cassidy. The people elect the government. The Government runs health care (charity). Therefore, when the Government cuts Charity, the people are cutting Charity. Ergo, the people are in charge. Doc Cassidy complains of the symptom of his own ideological disease. When “conservative” politicians constantly and arbitrarily slash funding for health care, refuse to raise revenue or prioritize resources, and then privatize the public trusts, government health care doesn’t work.
So Bobby J, and presumably politician and Senate candidate Bill Cassidy want to privatize the hospitals. And will the people have a voice then?
Lawmakers are raising questions about whether the Louisiana State University hospital privatization agreements devised by Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration provide enough public scrutiny of the hundreds of millions of dollars at stake.
Two state senators complained Friday that lucrative deals for private operation of LSU public hospitals lack provisions that guarantee public accountability.
State Sens. Ed Murray and Dan Claitor made their comments as the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget reviewed not-yet-finalized agreements for private operation of LSU hospitals in Lafayette and New Orleans as well as the $1.2 billion academic medical center under construction.
Meanwhile, committee Chairman Sen. Jack Donahue, R-Mandeville, pressed the Jindal administration for details on the short- and long-term state financial obligation for all LSU hospital takeovers including another six that are still in the works.
“You are a private enterprise taking over a major public purpose,” Murray, D-New Orleans, told hospital executives. “How do we audit those dollars?”
In other words, Doc, if you love our Charity Hospital Earl K. Long, you’re staring at its problem straight in the mirror everyday.
Stu Rothenberg over at Roll Call explains Mary Landrieu’s [correct] vote on background checks:
Landrieu always depends on a huge turnout in the black community and a near sweep of the black vote to win election, and voting against the president on guns might have poisoned her relationship with that community. And if Mary loses black voters, Mary can’t win.
In 2008, according to exit polling in the Senate contest, when she last stood for re-election, Landrieu won 96 percent of the black vote to 2 percent for Republican John Kennedy, the state treasurer. Interestingly, Landrieu received a larger percentage of the black vote in Louisiana than did Barack Obama (94 percent), according to the presidential exit poll.
Landrieu lost white voters to Kennedy, 65 percent to 33 percent, but she easily outperformed Obama that year among whites, since he carried just 14 percent of white voters in the state in his White House bid.
Landrieu ended up winning with 52 percent statewide, while Obama drew only 40 percent of the vote in the Pelican State.
Obviously, Landrieu needs to hit certain percentages of both black and white votes to win, but if politics starts with base voters, Landrieu knows which voters she can’t afford to lose during her 2014 re-election bid. She must have a huge black turnout, and she must win almost unanimous support in that community. Her support in the white community, after all, is not likely to increase between 2008 and 2014.
Of course, if Mayor Bloomberg is going to play in #LASEN 2014, this vote is definitely going to help. Howard Wolfson, Bloomberg’s political chief, lays it plainly here: