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Anti-Planned Parenthood rally set in Baton Rouge

Anti-abortion activists are scheduled to rally at Planned Parenthood’s Baton Rouge facility Tuesday, calling for an investigation into the group’s practices and yanking of federal funds.

The rally — one of 55 planned across the country — is designed to call attention to  recent allegations of Planned Parenthood’s involvement in selling fetal body parts, according to news release from Louisiana Right to Life.

Anti-abortion activists hope to convert the controversy into a ban on federal funding for the group.

The organization receives  about $500 million a year — largely because it provides health care services for women.

There is a general ban on federal funding of abortions.

Planned Parenthood officials  say some affiliates help women donate fetal tissue used for medical research and no sale of fetal body parts goes on. They  call recent allegations another unfounded attack by anti-abortion groups designed to damage the organization. The undercover  video that PP opponents use to back the claim has been heavily edited to distort contents, officials said.

Planned Parenthood has been in New Orleans and Baton Rouge for the last 30 years providing wellness exams, cancer screenings and family planning services for women and families as well as education programs.

 An abortion clinic is planned as part of a new multi-million dollar health center Planned Parenthood has under construction in New Orleans. But a state license must be obtained. No fetal tissue donation program is planned for it, officials said.

Gov. Bobby Jindal called for a probe of the activities of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast which includes Louisiana as well as the state’s five abortion clinics in the wake of the video release.

The “Women Betrayed” rally is sponsored by Students for Life of America and includes representatives of Louisiana Right to Life and the Louisiana Abortion Recover Alliance.

It begins at 4:30 p.m. outside Planned Parenthood’s 3955 Government St. location.

Bobby Jindal set to resume presidential campaign, following Lafayette shooting

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is slated to return to the presidential campaign trail Tuesday, after putting his run on hold to respond to a deadly shooting at a Lafayette movie theater last week.

Bobby Jindal campaign resume

Gov. Bobby Jindal

According to Jindal’s campaign, the 2016 hopeful is traveling to New York for a round of media interviews.

Jindal spent Sunday and Monday attending services for Jillian Johnson and Mayci Breaux, two women killed when a gunman opened fire during a packed movie screening Thursday.

Jindal, who has spent much of his time out-of-state since formally launching his campaign for president on June 24, had returned to Louisiana the day before the shooting, after spending several days campaigning in Iowa as part of his 99-county tour of the state.

Jindal’s campaign had billed his return to Louisiana as an opportunity to spend more time with family, but he was expected to soon return to Iowa to continue making stops in every county there.

In announcing that he was suspending his campaign, Jindal didn’t give a specific time frame for when it would resume.

Governor candidates warchests near $9 million

U.S. Sen. David Vitter has more money in the bank leading into the Oct. 24 governor’s election than three other major contenders combined.

The Republican frontrunner submitted a report Monday reflecting $5 million available for campaign spending three months before the Oct. 24 election.

That’s more than half of the $8.9 million all four candidates reported as cash on hand as of July 16.

Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, another GOP governor hopeful, filed a report with the state ethics agency disclosing he had the next most cash available – $1.86 million.

Meanwhile, Democrat contender state Rep. John Bel Edwards, whose been polling well, reported he had $1.07 million in the bank.

Republican hopeful Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle was sitting on $1 million after spending almost that much during the period – a lot on improving name recognition. He ran a series of  TV ads.

Angelle loaned his campaign $375,000 which helped pump up its available cash. No other candidate reported loaning money to their campaigns.

According to campaign finance reports, Angelle outspent Vitter during the period $922,000 to $510,582.  Dardenne’s expenditures hit $379,492 while Edwards spent about $60,000.





John Bel Edwards’ governor’s race cash tops $1 million

Democratic governor hopeful John Bel Edwards’ campaign account now tops $1 million, according to his Monday filing with ethics officials.

It’s one-fifth of the $5 million in cash on hand that poll frontrunner Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter reported.

In a news release, Edwards noted that in recent polls he’s been running second to Vitter, neck-and-neck or a little ahead, in a far better position than other candidates – Republicans Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle.

Edwards, a state representative from Amite, reported $1.07 million in his campaign account and spending of $60,000 over the latest reporting period.

“My campaign has spent a small fraction of what my opponents have, but polls show we’re going to have the most votes,” Edwards said in a news release. “We’re running an efficient, winning campaign.”



Treasurer Kennedy campaign account hits $3.7 million

State Treasurer John Kennedy continued to have a financially flush campaign account as he runs for election to a fifth term.

Kennedy, a Republican, reported $3.7 million in cash on hand in a Monday filing with state ethics officials. The report updated contributions and expenditures that occurred over the last three months.

The primary election is Oct. 24.

Kennedy led the field in fundraising of other down-ballot statewide elected officials seeking re-election this fall.

Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, who is facing a strong re-election challenge, reported $1.05 million in the bank three months before the election. His filing showed $280,000 in contributions over the last reporting period as well as a $200,000 personal loan to his campaign.

Fellow Republican former U.S. Rep. Jeff Landry has been chalking up endorsements from the GOP establishment over Caldwell, who was first elected as a Democrat.

Another Caldwell opponent is Martin “Marty” Maley, another Republican. His updated campaign finance report showed $9,500 in cash on hand.

Caldwell is seeking a third term.

State Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon and Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain each filed reports showing about $500,000 in their campaign accounts. Both are Republicans.

Donelon had $542,788 after raising $187,382 during the last three months. He has been the insurance commissioner since 2006 when he was elected to fill an unexpired term. He’s seeking a third full term.

Strain had $502,250 with little fundraising activity over the reporting period which ran April 18 through July 16. He is seeking a third term.

No major candidates have stepped up to challenge Kennedy, Donelon or Strain.

Secretary of State Tom Schedler filed his new report last week showing nearly $400,000 in the bank. Republican Schedler is being challenged by Democrat Chris Tyson, a lawyer, as he seeks a second  term.


Gov. Bobby Jindal struggles in polls; outside top 10 in national survey

Gov. Bobby Jindal remains in the low single digits in a CNN national poll of support for candidates for the 2016 Republican nomination,  outside the top-10 ranking needed to potentially help qualify him for the nationally televised prime-time debate on Fox News Aug. 6.

Meanwhile, a poll by NBC and Marist College of Republican voters in Iowa put Jindal at 1 percent — less than the 8 percent reported by his campaign last week in an internal poll, and less than the 4 percent reported last week by Monmouth University in its poll.

In the CNN/ORC poll, Jindal’s 2 percent score puts him in a tie for 12th. Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Ohio Gov. John Kasich are tied for eighth at 4 percent, rounding out the top 10. In first place is real-estate developer and reality-TV celebrity Donald Trump, at 18 percent.

The poll was conducted July 22-25, partially overlapping the mass shooting in a Lafayette movie theater on the night of July 23 that put Jindal in the news spotlight as he responded to the tragedy.

Fox News has said it will use five recent national polls as of Aug. 4 to determine who makes the cut for the prime-time debate, although it has not identified the polls it will apply. Also-rans will be relegated to a late-afternoon forum on the network.

Support for Jindal was unchanged since the previous CNN poll in late June.

The NBC/Marist poll in Iowa was conducted July 14-21. The state hosts the caucuses that launch the nomination process Feb. 1. Jindal has campaigned heavily in Iowa recently, although he suspended his campaign in the aftermath of the Lafayette shootings.

Fundraising slow for Kip Holden lieutenant governor bid

Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden is lagging behind in fundraising for his bid to become lieutenant governor.

Holden reported  $68,147 in his campaign account – three months before the Oct. 24 primary election. He raised $51,700 during the most recent reporting period which ran from April 18 to July 16.

Holden, a Democrat, is one of four people who have announced their candidacy for the No. 2 job in state government. The post is open because Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne is running for governor.

Holden’s fundraising pales in comparison to two Republicans in the race – former Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser and current Jefferson Parish President John Young.

As of the latest campaign finance reports, Young led in fundraising with $2.25 million in the bank heading into the final months of the campaign.

Nungesser had $1.64 million in the bank, the bottom line bolstered by a $500,000 personal loan to the campaign. He reported $157.5 million in contributions.

Young’s campaign bragged it had raised $342,000 in the latest reporting period with no loans.

The fourth candidate is Republican state Sen. Elbert Guillory of Opelousas.

Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., adds official oil-portrait ban to spending bill

Washington – The federal government would be barred from paying for oil portraits of presidents, vice presidents and members of Congress under a measure by U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., that was included in a spending bill last week.

Cassidy has introduced the proposal as a separate piece of legislation, called the Eliminating Government-Funding Oil-Painting (EGO) Act. In an Appropriations Committee hearing,  Cassidy attached the plan to a spending bill.

He also included language intended to bar the Obama Administration from adopting a new method for calculating the risk of development in flood plans to account for future climate change.

Cassidy and other Republican members of the Louisiana delegation in Congress say the new risk-assessment rule could increase the cost of flood insurance and also block the siting of Veterans Affairs hospitals and other federal facilities in parts of Louisiana. The rule, included in a Jan. 30 executive order by President Barack Obama, calls for the determination of floodplain boundaries to take into account the future impact of global warming and sea-level rise.

Cassidy’s amendment would block spending to adopt the rule. It tracks a proposal by U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, R-La., included in a bill approved by the House earlier this year. To be enacted, a version of the proposal must be approved by both the House and the Senate and signed by the president.

The Cassidy proposals await action by the Appropriations Committee to advance the overall legislation for consideration by the full Senate.






Schedler campaign cash at $400,000

Secretary of State Tom Schedler is reporting nearly $400,000  in cash on hand for re-election campaign.

Schedler, a Mandeville Republican, is seeking a second full term as chief of the office that oversees elections, commercial registration, the state archives and some museums.

He is being challenged by lawyer Chris Tyson, a Baton Rouge Democrat.

The primary election is Oct. 24.

Schedler filed a campaign finance report with state ethics officials Friday in advance of Monday’s deadline for candidates seeking major offices. The report reflects contributions and expenditures between April 18 and July 16.

Schedler reported $58,000 in contributions during the period, with only $2,633 in spending. He had cash on hand of $397,534.



Congressman Cedric Richmond to join President Barack Obama on trip to Africa

U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, will be joining President Barack Obama on the presidential trip to Kenya and Ethiopia.

“I look forward to joining President Obama and my fellow members of Congress on this momentous trip to Africa,”  Rep. Richmond said in a prepared statement.  “I anticipate learning from our overseas colleagues and developing relationships that will further global cooperation and prosperity.”

The president’s party arrives Friday in Nairobi. He plans to meet with members of his father’s family and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and young African leaders.

On Sunday, Obama gives a speech on U.S. relationship with Kenya and its people.

The party then moves on to Ethiopia, where the president meets with Ethiopian President Mulatu Teshome and Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, then holds a news conference and attends a state dinner.

On Tuesday, Obama attends a meeting with the African Union on matters of trade, business and security. The presidential party then returns to Washington, D.C. on Tuesday evening and Richmond expected to travel home from Ethiopia aboard Air Force One.

“The Second District is home to some of the largest ports in the world that ship American products across the globe,” Richmond said. Louisiana’s 2nd District stretches from neighborhoods of New Orleans through communities along the Mississippi River into parts of north Baton Rouge.

“Expanding our access to new markets would benefit our workers and grow the economy,” Richmond said. “It is as important as ever to engage with our international partners around the world to enhance security and spur the global economy. I share the President’s desire to work with our partners in Africa and around the world to benefit us here at home.”