Don Cravins Jr. has opened up a new front in the 7th District Congressional race, hitting incumbent Charles Boustany for making almost $800,000 over the past two years while being out of touch with working class constituents. Cravins’ latest campaign ad is titled “Ably Disabled” and opens by criticizing Boustany for collecting $20,000 a month in disability checks while making $150,000 a year as a Congressman. The ad then goes on to note that Boustany was “enabled enough” to collect $350,000 in contributions from big oil and drug companies and to vote for $7500 in Congressional pay raises while voting against the minimum wage increase. Each point is driven home with the admonishment, “That’s bad. Boustany’s got to geaux.” A retired heart surgeon, Boustany ended his medical career prior to being elected to Congress in 2004 after contracting arthritis in his hands and neck. He collects monthly payments from a surgeon’s disability insurance policy he paid into for years. Congress members receive annual pay adjustments based on a formula for cost-of-living increases. The increases are automatic, unless voted down by Congress. Following the 2008 adjustment, Congress members annual salary will be $169,300. Boustany’s Congressional office did not reply to a request this morning to respond to the ad.
Meanwhile, Boustany has launched his own campaign ads, which began airing the first of the month, and is currently outspending Cravins more than 2 to 1 on TV spots. Boustany's ads advocate a need for energy policy reform and the expansion of offshore oil drilling. According to TV station ad buys, Cravins is coming off a week hiatus and now spending $14,095 to run “Ably Disabled” from Oct. 8-13 on KATC. Cravins’ campaign has also been down for a week on KPLC in Lake Charles but is now up again with a $9,000 ad buy. Boustany’s campaign has spent $30,340 on ads running on KATC through the first two weeks of October and $37,000 for the same period on KPLC. KLFY reports that to date Boustany has spent a total of $101,945 on ads while the Cravins’ campaign ad buys total $31,515. Cravins campaign downplays the significanct of this, noting their ads began running almost a month before Boustany’s.