LeBlanc, who is running for the District 43 seat being vacated next year by state Rep. Ernie Alexander, is involved in a Texas prison system scandal in Bexar County. LeBlanc and his brother Michael and their business, Premier Management, have been implicated in questionable dealings with Bexar County Sheriff Ralph Lopez and one of his close associates. In recent weeks, Lopez pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor charges, including accepting an illegal gift, as part of a plea deal with the district attorney. The charges stem from a trip he took to Costa Rica with the LeBlanc brothers at a time when Premier was being considered for a lucrative commissary contract for a Bexar County jail annex. The LeBlancs, who also contributed to a shell charity organization controlled by one of the sheriff's close associates, have maintained their innocence, but Bexar County District Attorney Susan Reed told the San Antonio Express-News that she has not yet determined the extent of Premier's involvement in the corruption case. That publication is also looking into the LeBlancs dealings with other Texas prisons.
Boustany joined a long-list of prominent names hosting the fund-raiser, including Alexander. Also listed as hosts were Lafayette City-Parish Councilman Randy Menard, Tax Assessor Conrad Comeaux, Ron Gomez and Carol Ross, attorney Bob Wright, oilman Paul Hilliard, Glenn and Dana Armentor, Opelousas Mayor Don Cravins and Mike and Marcia Francis. About 70 $500 contributors appeared on the host list. Others attending paid $250 per couple. ... LFT ENDORSES CAMPBELL AND NOTES JINDAL SNUB The Louisiana Federation of Teachers endorsed Democratic gubernatorial candidate Foster Campbell last week, calling him "a leader who is willing to take on the well-heeled powers that be." Campbell has based his candidacy largely on a plan to swap the state's income and severance taxes with a new "processing fee" on oil and gas. Campbell, a former teacher and longtime state senator, has also advocated year-round schooling for struggling students and further raising teacher pay to the national average. In its press release, the LFT, one of the largest teacher unions in the state, also noted how it was snubbed by Republican front runner Bobby Jindal:
"Each of the major candidates, with the notable exception of Republican Bobby Jindal, met at least twice with Federation leaders and submitted written answers to questions posed by the LFT. Congressman Jindal did not respond to invitations to meet with LFT leadership and he failed to respond to the Federation's candidate's questionnaire, and therefore removed himself from consideration for the Federation's endorsement."
The state's other major teacher's union, the Louisiana Association of Educators, has endorsed both Campbell and Democratic rival Walter Boasso. Jindal also declined to participate in the LAE's interview process. ... CHARLIE BUCKELS RUNNING FOR BESE Charlie Buckels' name will be on the Oct. 20 ballot, but not as a candidate for District 31 state representative. Buckels, who up until qualifying indicated he would be making another bid for the District 31 seat, instead signed up to run for the District 7 Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Buckels, a Republican, will face off against incumbent BESE member Dale Bayard, a Democrat, who also serves as the board's secretary/treasurer. "We're in a situation of reform right now," Buckels says. "About three weeks ago, I started realizing that if we don't reform our education system, we haven't done much for reforming the state. It seemed to me that the BESE board is where I could actually contribute the most."
Buckels, a longtime official with both the parish and state Republican parties, insisted that politics played no part in the decision. In District 31, Buckels would have been challenging incumbent Don Trahan, a fellow Republican. (Independent candidate Nancy Landry is also running for District 31.) Trahan won the seat by edging out Buckels by 13 votes in a runoff election four years ago. "The politics of it was no issue at all," Buckels says, while acknowledging that he did have his sights set on District 31 for quite some time. "It kind of breaks my heart that I didn't qualify for 31," he says. "The day I went to qualify, it was still in my mind: where can I do the best job? I really think BESE is where I can offer the greatest help with the reform in the state. After I started looking at it, I had a peace about it." ... THE ADVERTISER ON VITTER: SILENCE You'd have to be living under a rock last week not to know that former New Orleans prostitute Wendy Yow Ellis passed a lie detector test and told the details of her alleged affairs with U.S. Sen. David Vitter, challenging Vitter's carefully parsed denial of "those New Orleans stories."
But you wouldn't know about the latest turns in the Vitter saga if you only read The Daily Advertiser. Serious new allegations that a Louisiana senator solicited prostitutes while in office apparently isn't news to The Advertiser, as the paper didn't write one word about the Vitter affair in its print edition last week. Not a single word: no news brief, wire story, or editorial ' zip, nada, nothing. ... NRSC STEPS UP ATTACKS ON LANDRIEU The ops over at the National Republican Senatorial Committee are sitting back and watching the Louisiana fall elections unfold, in anticipation of the 2008 U.S. Senate races. To say the NRSC has its crosshairs trained on Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Crescent City Democrat, would be an understatement. The group has issued multiple press releases targeting Landrieu, and recently posted a hard-hitting attack ad on YouTube and other Web sites on Landrieu's Social Security/immigration votes. Not surprisingly, increased mudslinging could ramp up sooner rather than later. "We're just watching how all the state elections unfold and then we'll be moving on this," says NRSC communications director Rebecca Fisher. "It'll be before the end of the year for sure." Direct mail pieces have already been drafted, she adds, and television spots are planned. Fisher had no new information on the million-dollar question: Who will Landrieu's challenger(s) be?
Contributors: Jeremy Alford, Scott Jordan, Nathan Stubbs, Leslie Turk
High-profile criminal defense attorney Daniel Stanford awaits his fate in the Curious Goods conspiracy trial.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is set to put the kibosh on the legal ownership of monkeys trained to help the disabled, and the agency wants to know what you think.
A federal judge on Thursday asked lawyers battling over Louisiana's new, restrictive abortion law for an agreement that apparently could let clinics stay open — at least for a while — after the law takes effect Sept. 1.
An abortion rights organization wants a federal judge to block enforcement of Louisiana's new abortion law while its lawsuit to overturn the law makes its way through court.
Republican presidential prospects Ted Cruz and Bobby Jindal are planning to speak at an Iowa Christian conservative event in September.
The attention surrounding Victor White III has spiked with the release of last week’s autopsy report, which has raised a number of serious questions about the night of his death and has put the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office under an increased wave of scrutiny as more national media outlets are jumping on the story, most recently seenh on MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
Dogs get back-to-school blues; mother pleads for release of journalist; ice bucket challenge and more national and international news for Thursday, August 28, 2014.
A group supporting taxpayer-funded private school tuition vouchers is appealing a federal judge's order that Louisiana must provide regular reports to federal officials on the state's voucher program.
The Discovery Channel has canceled reality TV star Will Hayden's popular "Sons of Guns" show after his arrest on an aggravated rape charge.
The LPSB will finally hear from the attorney it hired to investigate the superintendent at a special meeting Thursday at 4 p.m.
Authorities are investigating a report that a student there warned the principal of impending violence similar to that depicted in the movie "The Purge."
Saints cornerback Champ Bailey has played for more than a handful of playoff teams during a career that has seen him selected to 12 Pro Bowls.
Police say a 56-year-old Lafayette man walking behind a dump truck died when the truck hit him as it was backing up.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is a proud papa of new baby girl.
The books on Louisiana's last budget year have been closed, but it took a bit of borrowing from this year to make the numbers work.
The Iberia Parish Coroner responded Monday to the attention surrounding the questionable shooting of Victor White III, a black man from New Iberia who died April 2 while in the custody of local law enforcement.
Two months after lawmakers agreed to create a $40 million higher education incentive fund, no decisions have been made about how to divide the money.
With Drew Brees back healthy, the New Orleans Saints are free to work on the little things that can make the difference between a Super Bowl run and something less.
Incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and her lead GOP challenger Congressman Bill Cassidy are running close when it comes to money. Landrieu has $5.5 million to Cassidy’s $5.6 million in the bank.
With expectations mounting that Gov. Bobby Jindal will soon announce his campaign for president, attention is turning to not only who he will bring along with him but also what will transpire politically back home during the transition.
Seven of the 11 U.S. cities in a new ranking of “most dangerous diets” are in the Bayou and Lone Star states, but the ranking is more about poverty than fried oysters.
Lafayette police are investigating a fatal shooting involving an alleged burglar and homeowner.
Saints tight end Jimmy Graham got the message from the NFL. He's not dunking footballs over goal posts any more.
With qualifying over, the start of campaign season is official, and for the Lafayette Parish School Board, the race toward Nov. 4 will pit 20 candidates in battles for all 9 of the district’s available seats.