The State of Louisiana creates an incredibly powerful Governor’s office. By many accounts, the Governor makes over 1700 appointments to Boards or Commissions in the State. And the true number is probably even higher than this.
Each one of these appointments is a plum spot with its own constituency. Some even have major powers over large pieces of state government, such as the Board of Regents or the LSU Board of Supervisors. Some hold the keys to private fiefdoms of power, including gaming boards or those overseeing state assets.
Tom Aswell finds an interesting nexus between the Governor’s official duties of doling out these critical appointments and the responsibilities of filling his campaign warchest. It seems like one person is responsible for both duties. And this is a major problem for the public:
For eight months, from Oct. 16, 2012, until June 28, Gov. Bobby Jindal had a director of his re-election committee on the state payroll overseeing state boards and commissions, according to state records.
The duties of Kendal Melvin, director of the Department of Boards and Commissions, was reassigned to Kyle Plotkin, communications director for the governor’s office, according to an announcement by Jindal on Friday, June 28. Plotkin was promoted by Jindal to Assistant Chief of Staff at that time and was given the supervision of state boards and commissions.
Plotkin was given a pay increase, from $90,000 to $110,000 to assume the additional duties, according to Jindal press secretary Sean Lansing.
Melvin, a Vermont native, was initially hired as Director of the Department of Boards and Commissions on Oct. 16, 2012, at a salary of $70,000 per year.
But records provided by the Secretary of State show that she was simultaneously serving as a director of the Committee to Re-elect Bobby Jindal.
The gatekeeper for the boards and commissions for the State of Louisiana is Bobby Jindal’s chief campaign officier. Want a job? Better ante up. Quid. Pro. Quo.
During her tenure at the department, which began a full year after Jindal’s re-election, Jindal received more than $585,000 in campaign contributions, at least $42,000 of that from nine of his appointees to state boards and commissions. Those include:
• Tony Clayton, Southern University Board of Supervisors: $5,000;
• Charlotte Bollinger, State Board of Regents: $5,000;
• Carl Shetler, University of Louisiana Board of Supervisors: $5,000;
• William J. Dore, Sr., Southern States Energy Board: $5,000;
• Dave Roberts, Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District (Super Dome) Board: $5,000;
• Hank Danos, LSU Board of Supervisors: $5,000;
• Lee Mallett, LSU Board of Supervisors: $5,000;
• Blake Chatelain, LSU Board of Supervisors: two contributions totaling $2,000;
• Moore Investments (James Moore), LSU Board of Supervisors: $5,000.
Melvin was the Gatekeeper. See her for a campaign check. See her for an appointment. The gatekeeper. Read the whole thing.