All posts by Mark Ballard

Boustany staffers talk about GOP opponents

U.S. Senate candidate Charles Boustany staffers criticized his two of his fellow GOP opponents in what appears to be an accidentally broadcast Facebook posting. It’s hit the national media.

Talking about state Treasurer John N. Kennedy, an unidentified staffer opined, “You can’t knock Kennedy off message. He’s dogged. We’re not going to win even with gaffes.”

charles boustany gop


The other staffer said that verbal mistakes may help Boustany’s chances with another Republican opponent, U.S. Rep. John Fleming, of Minden.

“Well, Fleming has made some big ones,” a staffer said.

Fleming’s campaign spokesman  Matt Beynon responded, “It is very disappointing that Congressman Boustany would break congressional ethics rules by mixing his taxpayer-funded office with his political operation.  Congressman Boustany has a lot of explaining to do.”

Kennedy said, “I agree with whoever said I am dogged when it comes to doing my job and protecting taxpayer dollars.”

The conversation was broadcast over Facebook Live.

Calls, texts and emails to Boustany’s congressional office and campaign went unanswered.

But Roll Call, The Hill, and The Blaze have picked up the story that began with a Dallas Morning News reporter happened upon the live broadcast and tipped off, which reported the incident this morning.

Boustany is vying to replace U.S. Sen. David Vitter, who is stepping down at the end of his term. In addition to Fleming and Kennedy, the Lafayette congressman faces fellow Republicans Rob Maness, of Madisonville; Joseph Cao, of New Orleans; and Abhay Patel, of New Orleans. The Democratic Party contenders include Foster Campbell, of Bossier Parish; Caroline Fayard, of New Orleans; Josh Pellerin, of Lafayette; and Peter Williams, of Lettsworth. Troy Hebert, of Baton Rouge, has also said he would run without party affiliation.


Campbell aims at lobbying by former elected officials

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Foster Campbell released a commercial Tuesday reaffirming the governor’s support and continuing to mine his call for a 10-year ban on lobbying after a senator leaves office.

Public Service Commission Chairman Foster Campbell addresses weekly Baton Rouge Press Club luncheon.

Public Service Commission Chairman Foster Campbell addresses weekly Baton Rouge Press Club luncheon.

“The current system is a joke that doesn’t protect the public interest. It’s wrong when a Democrat does it and it’s wrong when a Republican does it,” said Campbell, one of five elected Public Service Commissioners.

Fellow Democrat, Gov. John Bel Edwards is shown three times in the 1-minute spot. Edwards is backing Cambell’s candidacy.

“I think they should be outright banned from lobbying any branch of the federal or state government without exception. Let them come home and get a job and work like everybody else,” Campbell said in a press release.

Current law allows former senators to get paid by lobbying firms for providing “strategic advice” while waiting out the current two year ban on directly lobbying their former colleagues.

Campbell’s issue, which he released earlier in the campaign and repeats in his commercial, targets Louisiana’s two most recent U.S. Senators.

Mary Landrieu took a job with a D.C. lobbying firm in May 2015 after losing a reelection bid the previous fall.

And Campbell also pointed to a report citing an unnamed source who said Sen. David Vitter “has had talks about working on K Street,” where many of the lobbyists have offices. (Vitter’s staff won’t comment on the validity of the claim but states that the senior senator “continues to be absolutely focused on actively pushing his legislative priorities during his final year in the Senate.”)

But a post-elective office lobbying sinecure has long been a career path for Louisiana politicians. John Breaux and J. Bennett Johnston are two long-time senators who eased into retirement through the highly paid field of government lobbying. Over on the U.S. House side, former congressmen Bob Livingston, Billy Tauzin, Richard Baker, Chris John, Rodney Alexander and others have taken jobs representing special interests in their relationships with state and federal governmental agencies.

“Our people go to Washington, they come back and they work for all the firms that they’ve been voting on all their special bills for and they wind up millionaires,” Campbell said in the spot.

Qualifying for the Nov. 8 election begins July 20, but the race to replace Vitter is already crowded with announced candidates, including Democrats Caroline Fayard, of New Orleans; Josh Pellerin, of Lafayette; and Peter Williams, of Lettsworth. Among the Republicans are John Fleming, of Minden; Charles Boustany Jr., of Lafayette; Rob Maness, of Madisonville; Joseph Cao, of New Orleans; John N. Kennedy, of Madisonville; and Abhay Patel, of New Orleans. Troy Hebert, of Baton Rouge, has also said he would run without party affiliation.

Democratic Party backs Cedric Richmond in congressional race

U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans

U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans

The Louisiana Democratic Party endorsed Saturday U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond’s reelection bid for Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District.

The Democratic State Central Committee, meeting as a body for the second time this spring, voted to endorse Richmond’s re-election campaign on the strength of his service and his commitment to Democratic family values, according to a party release.

Richmond, who has been Louisiana’s sole Democratic congressman since 2010,  faces Baton Rouge Mayor President Kip Holden, a fellow Democrat who is finishing up his final term.

Baton Rouge Mayor President Kip Holden

Baton Rouge Mayor President Kip Holden

“In his tenure to date as our representative in Congress, Cedric has proven himself a capable leader and a true friend to the people of his district,” said New Orleans Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, who is chair of the state party.

The Baton Rouge end of the 2nd Congressional district has 98,963 registered voters, while Jefferson and Orleans parishes have 336,178 registered voters, according to the Secretary of State’s Office. Another 70,000 voters live in the parishes along the Mississippi River between the two.

Angelle poll shows Angelle way ahead in 3rd Congressional race

More than half of the voters in Louisiana’s 3rd Congressional District have a favorable opinion of GOP candidate Scott Angelle and would vote for him if the election were held today, according to a poll for which his campaign paid.

Angelle, who came in third in last fall’s gubernatorial election, and five others have said they would run in November to replace U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, the Lafayette Republican who is running for the U.S. Senate.

Market Research Insight of Florida questioned 400 active voters in the 3rd congressional district in southwest Louisiana from April 18 to April 21 by landline and cell phone.

Seventy-two percent of those surveyed had incomes between $20,000 to $79,999, 74 percent were white, and 83 percent are over the age of 45.

Scott Angelle had a 52 percent favorable recognition among those surveyed. All the other Republicans in the race came in with single digit ratings.

Former Lake Charles Rep. Brett Geymann, who led the fiscal conservatives before having to leave the Legislature because of term limits, had an 8 percent favorable recognition.

Lafayette Republican Greg Ellison, who was in the U.S. Army for more than 20 years before founding Kitty Hawk Energy, showed 7 percent favorables.

Lafayette Parish School Board member Erick Knezek, a Republican, had 6 percent.

Former U.S. ambassador to East Timor, Grover J. Rees, a Republican, had 4 percent.

Republican Gus Rantz, president of Acadiana Management Group in Lafayette, had 3 percent favorable recognition.

When asked if the election were held today, 56 percent of those surveyed favored Angelle, 31 percent were unsure, Ellison came in second at 5 percent, 3 percent for Geymann, 2 percent each for Knezek and Rees, and 1 percent for Rantz, according to Angelle’s poll.

Angelle is one of five elected members of the utility regulating Public Service Commission. He also serves on the LSU Board of Supervisors. He was a close aide to former Gov. Bobby Jindal, serving as his secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and as interim lieutenant governor.

During the gubernatorial campaign, it was Market Research Insight that conducted the poll that first showed Angelle gaining ground on U.S. Sen. David Vitter, the Republican considered the prohibitive favorite. After a bitter campaign, in which Angelle and fellow Republican candidate, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne repeatedly called Vitter a liar; Democrat John Bel Edwards won the elections.


Campaign commercials for John Bel Edwards win awards

Jared Arsement, the media consultant who produced commercials for the successful gubernatorial campaign of John Bel Edwards, was honored at the American Association of Political Consultants annual “Pollie” Awards in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Lafayette-based Arsement Media Group produced the ad – called a head shot by some, disgusting by others – that focused on GOP candidate David Vitter’s missing a vote in Congress to honor fallen soldiers on the same day he received a call from a prostitute. Politico named “The Choice” one of the top political ads of 2015.

Another of his spots told the story of how Edwards and his wife Donna refused a doctor’s advice to abort their first child after a spina bifida diagnosis. The commercial underscored Edwards’ opposition to abortion and deflated the usually successful effort to tie Louisiana Democratic candidates to the national party’s pro choice stance.

Edwards was the improbable winner of last fall’s gubernatorial election in a red state where Republicans dominate statewide politics. In the Nov. 21 runoff Edwards swamped Vitter, racking up 12 percent more votes against a Republican who had raised more money than his three major contenders combined before the primary election.

david vitter john bel edwards louisiana governor prostitute

Advocate file photo: U.S. Sen. David Vitter (right) and state Rep. John Bel Edwards (left).

Arsement was the sole winner in the Online Video category for “Chain Reaction.” And he took home Bronze for overall TV campaign.

According to the AAPC, “The Pollie Awards are the most prized and sought-after awards in the political communications and public affairs industries. Every entry – whether submitted by a large consulting company or an individual consultant – is considered equal in competing for honors of excellence. A blind jury of professional peers selects AAPC award winners.”


Population estimates suggest House district changes in 2020

If Louisiana census statistics continue as they are now, then Orleans and St. Bernard parishes will pick up seats in the state House of Representatives come 2020 – probably at the expense of Jefferson and East Baton Rouge parishes, according to political pollster John Couvillon of JMC Enterprises of Louisiana.

Additionally, robust growth from Lafayette to Slidell along the Interstate 10/Interstate 12 corridor indicates a new legislative district that includes parts of Baton Rouge suburbs and the North Shore, while another seat could be created in and around Lafayette.

Caddo and central/northeast Louisiana each would likely lose a House seat, he wrote.

Since the Louisiana House is fixed at 105 seats, those four gained seats have to be offset somewhere and that is done by charting shifting population, along with a healthy dose of politics, Couvillon writes in a blog post.

The U.S. Constitution requires an official count of the nation’s population every 10 years – the next one is due in 2020. But the U.S. Census Bureau, headquartered in Suitland, Md., released its latest estimates on Wednesday.

As of July 1, Louisiana’s population was estimated at 4,670,724. That’s up 3 percent since 2010, the last official census. Nationally, the growth rate is 4 percent.

Couvillon noted that 36 out of 64 Louisiana parishes lost population.


Jindal’s empire strikes back

Speaking of trolling, a former Jindal aide hit the Twitter-sphere to tweak the Republican’s replacement soon after the end of the special session in Baton Rouge that was aimed at balancing the budget bequeathed to Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards.

Though Gov. Bobby Jindal joined Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, one the GOP presidential hopefuls, on the campaign trail from to time, the former governor has remained mostly out of public view and silent despite having his name repeatedly taken in vain throughout the 25-day legislative meeting. But the slowness in trying to figure out just what the legislators did during the last eight minutes when they passed more than $1 billion in taxes apparently was too much for some.

“More than 36 hrs after #lalege voted for billions in taxes, the actual amount individuals, businesses will pay is still not available online,” tweeted Camille Conaway, a former Jindal aide who now works  for the Louisiana Association of Business & Industry, the business lobbying group run by Stephen Waguespack, another former Jindal aide.

Timmy Teepell, Jindal’s political strategist, quickly retweeted Conaway.

Meanwhile, Edwards was in north Louisiana dealing with flooding and much of state government was shut down because  of the weather – including the legislative offices charged with calculating fiscal impacts. Nevertheless, many administration and legislative staffers worked in otherwise darkened office buildings trying to sort out just what deals were cut in the closing minutes of the session and just how those concessions affect Louisiana taxpayers.


More than 36 hrs after voted for billions in taxes, the actual amount individuals, businesses will pay is still not available online

Scott Angelle running for Congress

Scott Angelle

Scott Angelle

Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle announced his candidacy for the U.S. Congress Thursday morning.

Angelle, who came in third in last fall’s governor’s race, had been widely rumored to be interested in running this fall for the U.S. House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate seat.

Congressman Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, already entered the race to replace U.S. Sen. David Vitter, who is stepping down at the end of his term. Angelle is running for Boustany’s Third U.S. Congressional District seat, which covers nine Acadiana parishes and includes Lafayette and Lake Charles.

“Our families and communities in Southwest Louisiana, who help feed and fuel this nation, are struggling to survive oil prices at historic lows. Layoffs are happening every day. Our people need to know that Washington has our back. Instead, Washington’s answer is more regulations and a massive job-killing tax hike,” Angelle said in his press release.

Angelle was in charge of the state Department of Natural Resources, which oversees the oil and gas industry, under Democratic Gov. Kathleen Blanco and Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal. For a short time, Angelle served as interim lieutenant governor. He was one of Jindal’s closest aides and lobbied legislators on behalf of the former governor.

He was elected to the Public Service Commission, which regulates utility companies, in 2012 and was appointed by Jindal to the LSU Board of Supervisors.

Angelle, who is from Breaux Bridge, started out the 2015 governor’s race polling less than 2 percent, but came within 41,000 votes, out of 1.1 million cast Oct. 24, of beating Vitter for a slot in the November runoff.

The congressional elections are Nov. 8, 2016, with a runoff, if necessary, on Dec. 3.

“As your congressman,” Angelle said in his announcement, “I will defend the Second Amendment, protect the sanctity of life and fight for religious freedom. I will stand up for our brave law enforcement officers and I will never cave to political correctness. I’ll continue to be a partner to our coastal ports, support our local farmers, and work with our economic development partners to cut the red tape and allow job creation.”

His father was a state representative in the 1960s and secretary of the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries under Gov. Edwin W. Edwards.  Angelle started his political career at the age of 25 as a police juror in St. Martin Parish, then was elected in 2000 as parish president. He was tapped by Blanco for her cabinet in 2004.

Angelle and his wife have three daughters and two sons.


Pamela Anderson offers to cook for Louisiana inmates

“Baywatch” star Pamela Anderson offered to cook a vegan meal in the state’s prisons if Gov. John Bel Edwards considers cutting meat from the diets of the state’s 37,500 inmates.

“If you left meat off menus in the 12 state-run prisons, Louisiana taxpayers would save as much as $620,000 a year,” Anderson wrote Edwards.

Beans, rice, lentils, pasta, potatoes, other vegetables and fruits provide the needed nutrients at a fraction of the price, she argued in her letter. Plus, vegan foodstuffs can be shipped and stored without refrigeration.

Broadcaster ORF moderator Alfons Haider, left, kisses the hand of U.S actress Pamela Anderson, during the traditional Opera Ball in Vienna, Austria, Feb. 4. The Opera Ball is one of the most privileged events in the Austrian social calendar, attracting invited local guests along with luminaries and international dignitaries. (AP Photo by Hans Punz)

Broadcaster ORF moderator Alfons Haider, left, kisses the hand of U.S actress Pamela Anderson, during the traditional Opera Ball in Vienna, Austria, Feb. 4. The Opera Ball is one of the most privileged events in the Austrian social calendar, attracting invited local guests along with luminaries and international dignitaries. (AP Photo by Hans Punz)

Since Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the country, the third highest obesity levels and a massive budget deficit,  Dan Mathews, a senior president with PETA, said Anderson felt the state offers “a great merging of issues.”

Working with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Anderson went to Phoenix last year and cooked lunch for the 8,000 inmates in Maricopa County Jail. The prison switched to all-vegetarian diet for its inmates.

Mathews said Anderson would come to Louisiana if the state “just tries the the program out.”

The state Department of Corrections thanked Anderson for her concerns and hoped she would visit. But any shift in menus is not in the state’s immediate plans.

“While there may be some offenders who wouldn’t mind the change, let’s just say that any savings realized from the switch to vegan would easily be surpassed by the extensive damage caused to our facilities by those not so appreciative of the idea,” Corrections spokeswoman Pam LaBorde said in an emailed statement. “All of our state correctional facilities went smoke-free in 2015.  I shudder to think what would happen if we suggested taking away chicken, pork, beef and fish in 2016.”

Former Louisiana House speaker Chuck Kleckly joins Baton Rouge law firm’s lobby team

Former Louisiana House Speaker Chuck Kleckley joined the Baton Rouge law office of Adams and Reese LLP as an adviser on the firm’s Government Relations Practice Team.

Kleckley led the House for four years beginning in 2012. He left the Legislature after meeting his house term limit.

Under the ethics law, Kleckley cannot directly lobby legislators for two years, but he following a well-worn “advisers” path that prominent lawmakers have used in the interim.  The Republican is not a lawyer but was a Lake Charles businessman.

House Speaker Chuck Kleckley gavels the Louisiana House of Representatives into session on Monday.

Then-House Speaker Chuck Kleckley gavels the Louisiana House of Representatives into session in 2014.

“My priority will be exceeding expectations as a trusted government relations advocate that companies, associations and government entities can rely on in this ever-changing economic, business and regulatory environment,” Kleckley said in a news release from the firm.

Kleckley is the second former speaker to join the law firm’s government relations office. E.L. “Bubba” Henry, also with the firm, was the House speaker from 1972 to 1980.

“I am excited to welcome another former Speaker to our firm,” Henry said in a prepared statement.