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Bobby Jindal circulates petition against ‘liberal media’ following ‘no-go zone’ backlash

Gov. Bobby Jindal is asking supporters to sign an online “petition” and “tell the liberal media to stop their shameless attacks against” him regarding his comments this week on Muslims and so-called “no-go zones.” bobby jindal petition

It’s not clear where the petition with its e-signatures would be directed, but such petitions frequently are used by politicians to beef up their email rolls and collect info on potential voters.

Jindal’s “petition” asks for an email address and zip code. After someone fills it out, the site thanks them “for signing up for email updates” and takes them to a page asking them to consider donating to Jindal’s Stand Up to Washington political action committee.

The PAC sent an email Wednesday morning urging supporters to sign and circulate the online “petition.” Jindal’s official Twitter account then sent out the link urging people to sign.

Tuesday night, the PAC also emailed supporters asking for donations amid the controversy over Jindal’s London speech.

Bobby Jindal to speak to anti-abortion group at LSU before prayer rally

Gov. Bobby Jindal will speak to Louisiana Life March South, an anti-abortion rally at LSU’s Greek Theatre, before hosting a mass prayer rally on LSU’s campus Saturday.

Life Rally organizers say they expect thousands to attend the anti-abortion event, which starts at 10 a.m. At 11 a.m., the group plans to merge, at least in part, with Jindal’s prayer rally at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

bobby jindal life march south

Gov. Bobby Jindal

Organizers of Jindal’s prayer rally, dubbed “The Response,” already are expecting thousands to show up — as many as 10,000 per emails The Advocate obtained through an open records request.

The Christian Broadcasting Network reports that Jindal has invited the 49 other states’ governors to join him at the prayer rally.

“There will be no politicians giving speeches and no preachers pontificating. This gathering will be apolitical in nature and open to all who would like to join us in humble posture before our Creator to intervene on behalf of our people and nation. There will only be one name lifted up that day – Jesus!” Jindal writes in the letter CBN’s Brody File obtained.

Jindal hosted an event at the Governor’s Mansion in December to mobilize pastors from across the country in preparation of Saturday’s prayer rally, and preachers across the state have planned to bus congregants in for Saturday’s rally, according to organizers.

LSU students and others have planned to protest the prayer rally because of its ties to the American Family Association, a Mississippi-based group that has been criticized for its positions against gay marriage and other LGBT rights issues. The LSU Faculty Senate is considering a resolution this week in opposition to the event.

Meanwhile, black church leaders have planned a separate prayer rally at Southern University on Saturday to pray over issues like Medicaid expansion and incarceration rates.

Jindal, who is considering a run for president, will head to Florida next week to speak to a group of Catholic business leaders.

Vitter, Cassidy and Scalise release State of the Union response videos

Both of Louisiana’s U.S. senators and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, all Republicans, released videos in response to President Barack Obama’s 2015 State of the Union speech Tuesday night.

U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa was picked to give the GOP’s official response that aired nationally on television, but the three Louisiana elected officials posted their own versions on YouTube shortly after Obama’s delivery.

Here are the videos (in order) from U.S. Sens. David Vitter and Bill Cassidy and Scalise:

Bobby Jindal responds to ‘no-go zone’ backlash

Gov. Bobby Jindal is catching a lot of heat for remarks he made this week in England about so-called “no-go zones” in Europe — alleged Muslim enclaves that are ruled by Islamic law and where non-Muslims aren’t allowed.

On Tuesday, the governor’s office released a 1,700-plus word response titled “Setting the record straight: Reports of ‘no-go zones’ in Europe” that cites half a dozen reports of what Jindal says are examples of the situations to which his speech was referring.

Though he wasn’t making exactly the same claims, Jindal’s remarks largely have been lumped with now-discredited comments from a Fox News contributor, whose claims included assertions that entire cities in Europe have become “no-go zones.” Fox News has retracted those statements. British Prime Minister David Cameron called the pundit who made those claims “a complete idiot,” and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has announced plans to sue Fox News over the report.

In his speech, Jindal had made a significantly scaled-back claim when compared to the Fox News remark, describing the areas he was criticizing were “unofficially … so-called ‘no-go zone(s).'”

In follow up remarks, he has focused on people feeling unsafe or uncomfortable in areas with high concentrations of Muslims.

“I’ve heard from folks here that there are neighborhoods where women don’t feel comfortable going in without veils. That’s wrong. We all know that there are neighborhoods where police are less likely to go into,” Jindal told CNN when pressed for more. “I think that the radical left absolutely wants to pretend like this problem is not here. Pretending it’s not here won’t make it go away.”

He was asked repeatedly on CNN to name an area that met his definition of a “no-go zone” but didn’t.

Instances Jindal’s office now cites, including a CNN report, appear largely to be cases of rogue vigilantes.

Here is the full response from the Louisiana governor’s office:  Continue reading

Treasurer John Kennedy reports hefty campaign warchest

Four-term state Treasurer John Kennedy is reporting $3.45 million in cash-on-hand for his 2015 reelection bid.

Kennedy filed his campaign finance report reflecting 2014 activity with the Louisiana Board of Ethics on Tuesday.

The filing came weeks ahead of the Feb. 15 deadline for candidate reporting of last year’s activity.

Kennedy, a Republican, usually has a hefty campaign warchest and this year is no exception.

He reported contributions of $705,930 as well as other receipts of $9,471 and expenditures of $230,880 last year.

Kennedy started the 2014 with $2.96 million in his campaign account.

Kennedy will be seeking a fifth term. He won in 2011 with no opposition.

Pundits tackle Bobby Jindal’s ‘no-go zone’ claims

Liberal pundits are taking Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal to task today over comments he made about radical Islam and so-called “no-go zones” in a speech and subsequent interviews in London this week.

Jindal, who is considering a run for president next year, gave a speech Monday to the Henry Jackson Society, a right-wing think tank that has been accused of pushing an anti-Muslim agenda. In that speech, he claimed there are areas in Europe where non-Muslims aren’t allowed and Islamic law rules.

Bobby Jindal no-go zone

CNN report on Gov. Bobby Jindal’s speech in London.

“(I)n the West, non-assimilationist Muslims establish enclaves and carry out as much of Sharia law as they can without regard for the laws of the democratic countries which provided them a new home,” Jindal’s speech read. “It is startling to think that any country would allow, even unofficially, for a so- called ‘no-go zone.’ ”

Over the weekend, Fox News issued multiple corrections over similar claims regarding “no-go zones” in Europe, with the network ultimately saying there is “no credible information” that they even exist in England or France.

“To be clear, there is no formal designation of these zones in either country, and no credible information to support the assertion there are specific areas in these countries that exclude individuals based solely on their religion,” the statement read.

Now pundits from the left and the right are speaking out about Jindal’s remarks — he’s been a fixture on cable news networks and made headlines around the globe.

The Washington Post succinctly gives us this take of what’s going on: “(Jindal) is struggling for political oxygen in a Republican field that includes (or might include) the likes of Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush. So, how do you solve that problem? Throw red meat to the Republican base while simultaneously trolling the left. It worked.”

On Jindal’s remarks reviving the “no-go zone” point, Jay Parini, a poet and novelist who teaches at Middlebury College in Vermont, writes for CNN.com: “This is the sort of ill-informed fantasy that plays well in certain right-wing circles. This probably works for Jindal back home in Louisiana.”

Parini concedes that there are neighborhoods with high concentrations of Muslim immigrants, and that might give outsiders some unease.

“The same would be true for parts of America where you might feel uncomfortable walking around if you were, say, black or white — it would depend on the neighborhood,” he writes.

Over at MSNBC.com, contributor Steve Benen writes that Jindal’s remarks are “more shameful than presidential.”

“The far-right Republican just delivered a speech in which he said ‘Islam has a problem,’ and brazenly sticks to a lie about imaginary ‘no-go zones’ for non-Muslims, but it’s ‘the left’ that ‘wants to make this into an attack on religion,'” he writes. “It’s certainly possible that Republican presidential primary voters will find Jindal’s paranoid incoherence persuasive, but for everyone else, Jindal’s British escapade was more shameful than presidential.”

The Dallas Morning News’ Tod Robberson writes that Jindal’s “no-go zone” notion “is complete nonsense.”

“As someone who lived in London for three years during the past decade, and as someone who spent time in the North London neighborhoods I think Jindal is referring to, I can state unequivocally: He’s out of his mind if he really believes this,” Robberson writes. “The biggest danger there is getting your phone snatched, not being forced to pray on the streets five times a day.”

Jindal has defended his remarks, noting that his speech said “so-called ‘no-go zones'” and that they exist “even unofficially.”

“There are people here in London who will tell you there are neighborhoods where women don’t feel safe walking through those neighborhoods without veils. There are neighborhoods where the police are less likely to go. That’s a dangerous thing,” Jindal told a CNN reporter Monday.

When pressed for specific examples, Jindal couldn’t name any.

Meanwhile, some conservative pundits have defended Jindal’s strike against radical Islam.

National columnist Larry Kudlow called Jindal’s speech “brilliant” and “incredibly hard-hitting.”

Louisiana native Erick Erickson, writing for RedState.com, claims a 2013 CNN story about radical Islamists who have tried to impose Sharia law in East London backs up Jindal’s remarks. Such radicals have been condemned by Muslim leaders and faced arrest by local authorities, according to local reports.

Meanwhile, MSNBC has cut ties with a guest who made a racially-charged remark directed at Jindal, whose parents are from India.

Addressing Jindal’s “no-go zone” comments, commentator Arsalan Iftikhar said on MSNBC that Jindal “might be trying to scrub some of the brown off his skin.”

An MSNBC spokesperson later told CNN that Iftikhar’s comments were “offensive and unacceptable, and we don’t plan on inviting him back.”

Treasurer John Kennedy: ‘Leave TOPS alone’

State Treasurer John Kennedy is sending a message in the ongoing debate over Louisiana’s generous tuition assistance offering: “Leave TOPS alone.”

“We can’t afford to diminish what TOPS does for our state,” Kennedy, a Republican, writes in an op-ed the treasurer’s office released this week.

john kennedy tops

John Kennedy (Advocate photo)

Created nearly two decades ago, the price tag for running the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students has swelled from $53 million in the late 1990s to more than $200 million today. It’s funded through a combination of state general fund dollars and tobacco lawsuit settlement money.

House Speaker Chuck Kleckley and others have, in the past, raised proposals that would cap some TOPS payouts and curb the program’s ballooning costs.

A state Board of Regents report released in December found that TOPS awards have gone disproportionately to white students over the last decade, and on average to students from wealthier families.

From 2003 to 2014, 79 percent of students who received TOPS awards were white and 58 percent were female. The average household income of recipients during the same time period ranged from $70,000 to $99,000 — nearly twice Louisiana’s median household income of $44,164.

But the program’s most vocal advocates have resisted changes. The state Senate rejected plans to raise the program’s eligibility criteria last year, despite a push from key lawmakers.

But critics continue to eye the program, particularly as the state faces persistent budget problems and the prospect of drastic reductions to higher education funding.

In his op-ed, Kennedy argues that Georgia attempted to pare back costs of its similar HOPE scholarship program but eventually reversed the changes.

“We should not make the same mistake in Louisiana that Georgia made,” Kenndy writes. “TOPS has been a roaring success.”

Here’s the full op-ed from Kennedy:  Continue reading

Billy Nungesser hires campaign director

Lieutenant governor candidate Billy Nungesser has tapped a former campaign advisor to U.S. Rep. Garret Graves as his campaign manager.

Nungesser hired Ryan Lambert who just completed a stint last fall as political director in Graves’ successful campaign for the Baton Rouge-based 6th Congressional District seat.

Lambert started work with Nungesser’s campaign this week. He is a 2011 graduate of the University of South Carolina-Columbia with a major in political science.

Nungesser just completed two terms as president of Plaquemines Parish. He ran for lieutenant governor four years ago with Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter’s backing.

Nungesser is one of several candidates who have announced they will vie for the open seat created as Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne runs for governor.

Besides Nungesser, Baton Rouge Mayor-President Kip Holden, Jefferson Parish President John Young and state Sen. Elbert Guillory of Opelousas have said they are in the race.

Bobby Jindal holds political meetings during European economic development trip

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s office has provided an update on the governor’s 10-day economic development trip to Europe, including details about several meetings he has held with conservative political groups and politicians while overseas — one of which was billed as an education policy discussion.

bobby jindal europe

Gov. Bobby Jindal

Jindal has faced criticism in recent days over remarks he made about Muslims during a speech he gave to the Henry Jackson Society, a right-wing think tank, in London on Monday, in particular remarks he made about so-called “no-go zones” — areas in Europe where non-Muslims aren’t allowed and Islamic law rules.

Jindal was due to return to Baton Rouge on Tuesday. Stops on his European trip have included Germany, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Last week, Jindal’s office said he met with executives from BASF SE at the company’s headquarters in Ludwigshafen, Germany, during the state-sponsored economic development mission. His office said he was slated to have similar meetings with four unnamed major companies.

According to the most recent trip update from his office, Jindal took part in a round-table discussion Saturday hosted by the Young Britons Foundation, which promotes conservative causes, and the Margaret Thatcher Foundation.

After his Monday speech to the Henry Jackson Society, Jindal had lunch with about 20 members of Parliament and then spoke to a group from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

Jindal also met with Member of Parliament Virendra Sharma and U.K. Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Sajid Javid. He discussed education policy with Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip of the Conservative Party Michael Gove, according to the governor’s office.

Dwight Landreneau new State Parks chief

Dwight Landreneau is returning to the job of  assistant secretary of the Louisiana Office of State Parks.

Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne announced Landreneau’s appointment Tuesday.

Dardenne said Landreneau will be on the payroll as a “part-time employee out of concern for the budget cuts coming.”

“He’s agreed to work more than what he’s being paid for,” said Dardenne.

Landreneau  replaces Stuart Johnson, who retired at the end of 2014 after more than 17 years in the position. Landreneau starts immediately and will lead the 441-employee agency for the balance of the term, which ends Jan. 11, 2016.

Landreneau previously served in the position for seven years under then-Lt. Gov. Kathleen Blanco. He later spent two-and-a-half years as the head of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and most recently he was associate vice chancellor at the LSU AgCenter. He was a 4-H/county agent and an aquaculture agent for 20 years in his home parish of St. Landry.

“Dwight was the ideal choice for this position. His professional background speaks to his devotion as a public servant, and the level of respect he’s earned throughout state government will help him fill the big shoes left by Stuart. He will have full-time responsibilities for part-time compensation,” Dardenne said.

Landreneau will be a good person to have on board because of his familiarity with the parks system, Dardenne said. “Budget cuts make for very difficult decisions,” he said.

The Louisiana Office of State Parks comprises 22 state parks, 17 state historic sites, two state preservation areas, the Louisiana Outdoors Outreach Program, several grant management programs and Poverty Point World Heritage Site.