All posts by Mark Ballard

Bobby Jindal goes hunting in his official Christmas card

The Jindal family went camo for Christmas this year.

Their official Christmas card features Gov. Bobby Jindal, his wife, Supriya, and the kids, sitting in an ATV, wearing camouflage hunting regalia in the wilds of the Governor’s Mansion grounds.

“Oh what fun – May your Christmas be filled with joy and laughter,” the card reads.

Jindal  recently aligned himself with the Robertson family of “Duck Dynasty” fame. The once extremely popular reality television program follows the lives of West Monroe family who became rich selling duck calls.Jindal Christmas Card1

Late last year, Jindal came to the defense of the family’s patriarch, Phil Robertson, who volunteered in a national magazine that gay sex was like bestiality and that African-Americans were happier before the Civil Rights movement.

Since then, Jindal has appeared on the show, gave the Robertsons’ an award, and bragged about how much his children liked the show. Recently, Jindal has been tweeting photos of his family toting guns.

First Lady Supriya Jindal came up with the idea for the card, according to Jindal’s press office. Though the first lady has never hunted, she is acquiring a license and has shot skeet.

Hunting is an important consideration for Louisiana’s chief executive.

Mike Foster, whose wealthy planter class family includes a governor in the late 1800s,  showed many images of himself hunting and fishing.

Kathleen Blanco also had snapshots at the ready. Part of her family tradition includes a trip to duck blinds at Christmas.


PSC balks at Jindal administration order

The Louisiana Public Service refused Wednesday to sell half its vehicles, as ordered by the Jindal administration, to help fill a hole in the state budget.
The Jindal administration on Dec. 9 had ordered the PSC to “turn in” seven vehicles. The Division of Administration intends to sell the vehicles and put the money in the state general fund.
State revenues are coming in less than expected and the administration is trying to raise money to fill the budget hole.
The five elected regulators, however, said no during their monthly meeting Wednesday morning.
The regulators ordered their staff to oppose the administration’s efforts to confiscate seven of the regulatory agency’s vehicles.
The motion was made by PSC Chairman Eric Skrmetta, a Republican from Metairie, and seconded by Commissioner Scott Angelle, a Breaux Bridge Republican who once was in Gov. Bobby Jindal’s cabinet. The resolution was approved without objection.
The commissioners said their cars already are paid for, adding that they would have to rent cars, which is not in the budget.
Additionally, the underlying issue is the subject of a lawsuit.
The PSC argues that the recent practice of the Jindal administration and Louisiana Legislature taking the funds that are paid to the PSC as fees by the regulated companies, amounts to an unconstitutional levy of taxes. The administration and the Legislature counter they have the right to use the fees as part of the state budget.
The cases challenging the practice are pending in court.

Louisiana legislators to party and pick up per diem

‘Tis the season and Louisiana legislators from across the state are headed to Baton Rouge for their annual Christmas party.

Coincidentally, nine hearings involving legislators have been scheduled for Thursday, the day of the party, one for Friday and three more on Wednesday.

Legislators collect $150 per diem when they come to the Capitol on official business, like committee meetings.

Some will come in for legislative meetings set for Wednesday – Joint Education – mostly to receive reports – and a subcommittee of the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget.

On Thursday, the pace picks up with morning and afternoon meetings with some legislators on committee scheduled to meet at the same time.

The Joint Health and Welfare Committee meets to ratify a limited extension of Molina Medicaid Solutions contract for Medicaid claims processing.

The House Civil Law and Procedures Committee and Senate Judiciary A looks into legal issues related to housing challenges faced by victims of domestic abuse.

The Joint Transportation Committee conducts a hearing on the Port Construction and Development Priority Program.

The State Bond Commission, on which legislators serve, also meets.

In the afternoon, the Legislature’s Budget Committee’s agenda includes the state’s fiscal status.

The specially created Louisiana Balance of Powers Study Commission has presentations on tap.

The last meeting of the day is a 3:30 p.m. House Natural Resources Committee session to consider sale of two state properties.

The Christmas party begins at 5 p.m. Thursday

Treasurer John Kennedy looks at AG race

State Treasurer John N. Kennedy is looking at running for attorney general, his top political aide, Jason Redmond, said Wednesday.

“It is true that the Treasurer is considering it,” Redmond wrote in an email.

Kennedy, a Republican, is often mentioned as a possible gubernatorial candidate in 2015. But LaPoltics Weekly reported that Kennedy is asking advice from donors and has polled the race.

Kennedy ran for attorney general in 1991. He was elected state treasurer in 1999.

Former New Iberia Congressman Jeff Landry, a tea party Republican,  is looking to challenge incumbent Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, who also is a Republican.

Mary Landrieu says she won’t run for public office again, maybe

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu told reporters Wednesday that should would not run for public office again, according to Politico, an online news website covering Washington politics.

Asked if she would run for governor or for senator again, the Louisiana Democrat responded, “Oh Lord, no.” But she would not give a definite a no to running again.

On her first day back to work since losing to Congressman Bill Cassidy, Landrieu said had slept for three days.

Landrieu addressed a handful of reporters for 20 minutes after her last public business meeting as chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee

Politico also had reported the opinions of several headhunters, veteran lobbyists and consultants saying that Landrieu’s status as a protector of the oil and gas industry and as a senior member, for years, then as chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, would make her a top recruit for the big money lobbying

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La. (Advocate file photo)

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La.
(Advocate file photo)

firms that office on K Street N.W. in D.C.

Landrieu said she was uncertain what would come next, but added she would focus her post-Senate career on three issues: coastal restoration and environment, school reform and foster care and adoption.

“There are a couple of good things about losing. And one of them is I can now actually spend 24 hours of every day focused on the things that I’m really passionate about instead of doing it halfway because I was pulled to do so many other things that I just had to do,” she said.


Bill Cassidy backs over-the-counter sales of birth control

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bill Cassidy favors over-the-counter sales of birth control.

The Baton Rouge congressman recently gave his opinion to an LSU journalism student on Tiger TV, a campus television station.

After criticizing the Affordable Care Act in an Oct. 28 interview, Laryssa Bonacquisti, a student from Dallas, asked if the government should make it easier for young, sexually active people to get birth control. “The Pill” is widely used in the United States to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

Cassidy replied that contraception should be sold over the counter.

“It actually then increases your freedom. It removes the government from the decision at all. And since I’m a doctor and since the College of Obstetrics and Gynecology has recommended it, I’m okay with that.  If the docs who care for women think that’s the way it should be, then that’s the way it should be,” Cassidy said, using the former name of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. “We should just remove the government from the decision, allow it to be sold over the counter.”CassidyProLife052.jpg

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists,  that group of doctors who care for women, by the way, also advocates against laws that restrict access to abortion, such as the one Louisiana recently passed that requires physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. Cassidy’s first public appearance after the primary election was to receive the endorsement of a national anti-abortion group.

Everyone was all smiles after the interview, which was held at the Tiger TV studios in Hodges Hall on the LSU campus, recalls Kristen Althouse, of Mandeville, who at the time was the station’s news director. (She now is station manager of Tiger TV.)

The next day, however, Cassidy’s communications director, John Cummins, sent Bonacquisti a scathing email, blistering the young student for acting unprofessionally by asking a question not on the list approved by the campaign, Althouse said,

Cassidy, Cummins and other staffers on his campaign did not respond to three requests for comment Wednesday.

Tiger TV is a television channel that operates on campus and is designed as a learning workshop for LSU journalism students. The interview became more public when radio talk show host, Jim Engster, who is on a student media advisory committee, played portions of the interview on Tuesday.

While access to contraception was one of the major issues in the 2012 presidential campaign, the subject has been little mentioned in Louisiana Senate race.

In Washington, the debate has broken along party lines with much of the controversy focusing on whether birth control should be easily available and, if so, the way to pay for it.

Wisconsin Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, whom Cassidy often cites as one of the congressmen he most admires, sponsored legislation called the “Sanctity of Human Life Act,” which would define life as beginning at conception and would eliminate most common forms of birth control.

Both chambers of Congress, as well as the judiciary, also have been bickering over whether corporations of a certain size should be required to provide to their employees health care insurance that covered contraception.


LSU will investigate Bill Cassidy’s part-time job

LSU will investigate the part-time employment of Congressman Bill Cassidy, according to a statement released Monday afternoon.

“Based on concerns that have surfaced in the news media, we will review any information we have regarding Dr. Bill Cassidy’s employment with LSU, just as we would any other employee,” according to the statement released by the LSU Press Office.

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu has raised questions about a few time sheets that indicate Cassidy was charging for work he didn’t perform. Cassidy was paid $20,000 a year to teach in LSU medical school clinics.

Cassidy and his campaign did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

Cassidy has said in the past that the work logged on the few time sheets available — 16 out of 63 months — didn’t reflect all the work he performed.

Landrieu promised to delve into the issue during Monday night’s debate — the only one Cassidy agreed to attend in the runoff campaign for the Saturday election.

Landrieu said she suspects that the questions about the LSU part-time job is the reason Cassidy has been ducking debates. She said LSU has some responsibility for not being able to find the records.

State Sen Karen Peterson, D-New Orleans, questioned, at a later event,  whether Jindal-appointed LSU Board of Supervisors would investigate Cassidy’s part-time job and the questions raised by the available time sheets.

Media allowed to report Monday’s U.S. Senate debate

WAFB-TV announced Wednesday it would allow reporters into its Baton Rouge station to cover the statewide televised debate between incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., greets Senate candidate, Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La., before their debate at Centenary College in Shreveport, La., Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., greets Senate candidate, Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La., before their debate at Centenary College in Shreveport, La., Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

The Monday, Dec. 1, debate between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m., is the only joint encounter in which Cassidy agreed to participate. Early voting is Wednesday and Saturday. The runoff election is next Saturday, Dec. 6.

His campaign announced Cassidy would not answer questions of reporters after the debate. He was unavailable to the media after the two debates that he participated in prior to the primary election.

Landrieu will meet the press after the debate in WAFB’s newsroom.

Initially, the station’s management had said there was not enough room to allow access to outside reporters.

The emailed announcement Wednesday morning stated that media members who apply to the station for credentials would be allowed into the studio for five minutes at 6:45 p.m., then could watch the debate from a viewing room elsewhere in the building, and participate in Landrieu’s press conference.

Media that wish to attend the debate must apply for credentials by 10 a.m. Monday from Monica Craig, WAFB’s executive producer at (225) 215-4801 or

WAFB-TV is part of Raycom Media, which owns or manages television stations in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Lake Charles and Shreveport.

Bobby Jindal to be in Virginia on election day

On  the Dec. 6 runoff election day, Gov. Bobby Jindal is scheduled to speak to the Republican Party of Virginia’s annual gathering of party activists.

That state’s Republican activists meet for seminars and speeches at what is called the Donald W. Huffman Advance. Huffman was chairman of Virginia’s Republicans.

Jindal will be the keynote speaker at the event, according to tweet by the Virginia Republican Party. Ed Gillespie, who narrowly lost his U.S. Senate race to Democratic incumbent Mark R. Warner, also will speak.

His press secretary, Shannon Bates, says the governor plans to early vote Wednesday or Saturday.

The event takes Marriott Westfield near Dulles International Airport in the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.

Jindal has made several trips to Virginia in the past few years.

Tickets run $55 from a single basic entry to $25,000 for the top-level sponsorship, which includes eight tickets.

Bobby Jindal scores low in New Hampshire, Iowa polls

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is taking a backseat on the stages where Republican Party stars campaign for Bill Cassidy.

Potential GOP presidential candidates U.S. Sens. Rand Paul, of Kentucky, and Marco Rubio, of Florida, along with Texas Gov. Rick Perry and tea party favorite Dr. Ben Carson, of Maryland, have all come to Louisiana to rally voters to U.S. Rep. Cassidy’s effort to unseat incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu in the Dec. 6 runoff.

Part of the reason could be found in a poll released this week that shows Jindal has a net favorable rating of 20 percent among New Hampshire voters and net unfavorable rating of 21 percent, according to the survey of 989 likely Granite State voters by the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College and Bloomberg Politics website.

Republican presidential candidate Texas Gov. Rick Perry, right, walks with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal during a campaign stop in De Witt, Iowa, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2011. (AP Photo)

Republican presidential candidate Texas Gov. Rick Perry, right, walks with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal during a campaign stop in De Witt, Iowa, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2011. (AP Photo)

Of the visiting GOP dignitaries, only Carson had a lower favorable rating at 19 percent but his net unfavorable rating was 10.

Jindal told Meet the Press last week, when asked about his current unpopularity in Louisiana, that he doesn’t care about polls.

New Hampshire holds the first presidential primary vote, Jan. 26, 2016, and if it was held today, Mitt Romney, who the GOP standard bearer in 2012, would be the overwhelming favorite among Republican primary voters, with 30 percent, the poll showed.

Jindal came in near the bottom with 3 percent of the vote, but ahead of Perry, who had 2 percent.

If Romney is not in the field, then Paul and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are ahead at 16, Jindal and Perry trail the field with 4 and 3 percent, respectively.

Tom Rath, a former New Hampshire attorney general and longtime primary watcher who supported Romney in 2012, was quoted in the Saint Anselm press release accompanying the poll as saying the early polling is certain to change in the coming months, as local coverage of the primary is added to the mix of what has been mostly national coverage. Rath said that the “center-right” part of the potential candidate lineup is still unformed.

Jindal’s presidential numbers are only marginally better in Iowa, where the first inkling of voter preference for presidential candidates is found when the parties hold caucuses on Jan. 18, 2016.

Jindal had a 41 percent favorable rating in Iowa and a 14 percent unfavorable, according to a Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register Iowa Poll of 425 likely 2016 Republican caucus goers conducted in October. He was the first choice of 1 percent of the likely caucus goers and as the second choice for 4 percent.

Next month, Jindal will make his fourth trip to Iowa of the year.