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Jindal Family Politics

“Bobby” Jindal may have finally made it in American politics. Sure, he’s an twice-elected Governor of a (small) US state, so that ain’t bad. And he’s been a member of Congress, so he’s got that too.Screenshot 2014-05-31 at 1.20.58 PM

But really making it in modern American politics for “Bobby” Jindal might have finally happened. Yes, Jindal’s got himself an honest-to-goodness, sleazy, corrupt, conflict-of-interest, family scandal on his hands:

Gov. Bobby Jindal didn’t disclose in his newspaper column this week supporting for-profit colleges in their fight with the Obama administration that his brother, attorney Nikesh Jindal, represented the schools’ association in an earlier legal fight with the administration...

“I think that it is pretty embarrassing such facts come out after the fact rather than before,” said Kevin Cope, president of the LSU Faculty Senate and a critic of the for-profit institutions.

Nothing says good ole, sleazy American politics than a politician publicly shilling for his brother’s legal clients.

But this isn’t the first time the Jindal family has been caught with their political and financial wires crossed.

The Jindal family matriarch has been a State Employee under her son, the Governor, pulling down six figures in the state’s IT department:

Raj G. Jindal is the governor’s mother and she pulls down a cool $117,915 per year as an Information Technology (IT) Director 3 in charge of workforce support and training. We assume she is a valuable, capable employee. But that’s not the point here. It’s the perception, stupid (with apologies to Bill Clinton).

One might think the governor, as a show of good faith, would ask his mom, an employee of 30-plus years and certainly eligible for retirement, to lead by example, and step down to benefit someone who really needed a job. Even if she were not eligible for retirement benefits, what a PR move it could be for the governor.

But Nikesh Jindal, the Governor’s brother, is familiar with covering his brothers bases. In a 2009 interview, Nikesh stumbled and fumbled when the subject of the Jindal family faith came up, no doubt cautious not to spoil the carefully crafted image crafted of “Brady Bunch” good Catholic convert Bobby.

Today, Nikesh Jindal is a thirty-year-old lawyer in Washington. He went to Dartmouth and Yale — “Quite a shock for a southern boy,” he said on the phone recently with a chuckle. Unlike Bobby, he has no southern accent. Nikesh remembers fondly the family’s one-story, three-bedroom house in a “small little neighborhood where you knew all the people on the street.” When asked if his family ever got together with other Hindu families to worship during holidays, Nikesh, who has never before been interviewed, became flustered. “I’ll have to think about it and get back to you on that,” he said. (All requests for an interview with Amar and Raj Jindal were declined.)

It’s fascinating to note how well-constructed the “Bobby” Jindal image has been over the years. The assiduous avoidance of any “foreign” (i.e. non-southern-christian-white) biographical items bolster’s Jindal’s cultural appeal to his old, white, intolerant base.

Jindal’s spent a lot of time attempting to burnish the ultimately “american” white boy image. This obvious overcompensation is fascinating. It is so clear, even to Jindal, that his political base could not, and would not, accept Jindal for whom he really is, for where he really came from, and from his true American story.

Perhaps now, with the eruption of family political sleaze, Jindal will finally find the acceptance he so desperately craves. Nothing says genuine American politics like a commingled family political drama, complete with slimy conflicts of interest.

Congrats “Bobby,” you might have finally made it.

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