BUSH TO ATTEND KENNEDY FUND-RAISER If there were any doubt about the national Republican Party’s commitment to his U.S. Senate campaign, state Treasurer John Kennedy removed it last week when he announced that the National Republican Senatorial Committee is hosting a fund-raiser for him April 22 in Baton Rouge and that President Bush will be among the distinguished guests. Gov. Bobby Jindal, Sen. David Vitter, and the state’s four Republican Congressmen are co-hosts. Tickets are $2,000.
Kennedy, a longtime Democrat who switched to the Republican Party last year, is challenging U.S. Sen. Mary Landreiu’s re-election bid. Kennedy also ran for Senate in 2004, as a Democrat, an election won by David Vitter. Last year, Kennedy reportedly met with Bush’s chief political strategist, Karl Rove, to discuss this year’s senate race. The fund-raiser is another signal that Kennedy is the GOP’s choice candidate for the senate seat, though Secretary of State Jay Dardenne has yet to rule out the possibility of challenging Kennedy in a Republican primary. Meanwhile, Landrieu is trying to use Bush’s visit to capitalize on her own fund raising, saying that Kennedy will likely pocket $1 million from the event — a number she is challenging her supporters to match.
JINDAL’S VIOLATION: HORSE NOT DEAD, SOME BEATING LEFT TO DO If Gov. Bobby Jindal thought the flap over the payment of his campaign finance violation was put to rest during last month’s special session on ethics reform, he’s sadly mistaken. Rep. Jerome “Dee” Richard, an independent from Thibodaux, will be pushing legislation during the regular session that begins this week to prohibit the use of campaign funds to pay fines, fees or penalties assessed in relation to a campaign finance or lobbying violation. While not directly aimed at the GOP governor, Richard’s House Bill 277 could certainly dredge up a few comparisons or anecdotal references.
Jindal’s campaign failed to timely report a $118,000 donation from the Louisiana Republican Party last year, and Rolfe McCollister Jr., a Baton Rouge publisher and Jindal’s campaign treasurer, initially vowed to personally pay the pending fine, which could reach as high as $2,500. Such third-party payments were a focus of the special session, with many lawmakers, including Richard and others from New Orleans and elsewhere, successfully passing legislation to ban the practice. The use of campaign money to pay for fines, though, escaped the scrutiny of lawmakers earlier this year.
TERM-LIMITED MICHOT GETS MAJOR FUND-RAISER A big fund-raiser held last week for term-limited Lafayette state Sen. Mike Michot is prompting speculation about the popular legislator’s future political plans. The “Michot Spring Gala 2008” was held Thursday, March 27, at the Historic Houmas House Plantation and Gardens in Darrow, La. Tickets to the event were $500, while event sponsorships ran for $5,000 each and host committee participation was priced at $2,500. Courson Nickel and Knight Oil Tools were listed on the invitations as event sponsors. Acadian Ambulance, Atmos Energy, Dwight W. Andrus III, developer Robert Daigle and the Louisiana Auto Dealers Association were among the fund-raiser’s 14 host committee members. The invites also noted Gov. Bobby Jindal would be in attendance. Nancy Landry, a local family law attorney who recently ran an unsuccessful campaign for the District 31 state House seat held by Don Trahan, was the event chair and organizer.
Michot says he does not have another office in mind.
“I don’t have anything specifically identified at this point,” he says. “I’m still weighing options. Obviously, you never know what opportunities will arise. Things change sometimes in a very short period of time, and sometimes it takes a few years but obviously, I want to be ready in case something does come up that I’m interested in pursuing.”
Michot is the senior Republican in the state Senate and recently became chair of the powerful Senate Finance Committee and Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget.
MAY 24 Blogger Robert Mann posts this entry about the Baton Rouge Chamber's recent report on Louisiana's higher education system. It's critical to economic development, and yet our system is facing a "funding crisis" with no way to resolve it, the report says. The Chamber says control of tuition and fees must be returned to the higher ed governing boards.
MAY 24 Here's a NBC33 story about Tyrann Mathieu. He has signed with the Arizona Cardinals, inking a $3 million, four-year deal. He gets a signing bonus of $265K, but gets another, larger bonus if he doesn't get cut from the team for doing drugs. The deal reportedly includes mandatory tests and meetings for the player.
MAY 24 Jarvis DeBerry posts here about the redonkulus rhetoric that would have us believe NOLA is a safe city with a murder problem. Maybe the city's crime stats don't compare with its murder stats because you can't manipulate a murder, he says: a dead body's a dead body. It just doesn't make sense, he says, and his readers agree: a poll asks if they believe the city is safe, and more than 90 percent say no.
MAY 24 Jindal administration officials announced Thursday that the privatization of public health care is going to cost a lot more than they budgeted for, the Advocate reports here. "I'm so surprised," said no one. Anywhere. The cost they're projecting now is more than $1 billion - a lot more than the $626 million budgeted for it. And, it's more than it cost the state to operate those hospitals. So why are we doing this again?
MAY 24 Blogger CB Forgotston ridicules the recent PR campaign by the state GOP in the wake of a legislative auditor's request to both major parties. The GOP (apparently unaware that the Dems got the same request) started yammering about being targeted because it had "killed" a tax increase. CB finds that laughable, but it's also pretty funny that the GOP was comparing this episode to the IRS scandal (Because the President has so much to do with our state auditor. Right?).
MAY 24 Politico details some recent fund-raising efforts by Sen. David Vitter, which have raised the question of his future political plans. This time, it is a $5,000 per head "bayou weekend" that includes "Cajun cooking" and an all-caps "alligator hunt," the story reports. Funds raised go to a super PAC that can spend money to support Vitter in federal or state races, the story points out.
MAY 24 The pink building on Royal in the quarter was sold at a sheriff's sale Thursday, this Picayune story reports. An injunction that would have halted the sale wasn't enforced because the family failed to post a $150,000 bond, the story reports. So the owner of the mortgages on the building bought it, for nearly $7 million. Now the feuding family will have to negotiate with that company to get a lease on the building that has housed their business for close to 60 years.
MAY 23 This post in Louisiana Voice tells us about a bill by a Winnsboro lege that would require all public high school students to take at least one Course Choice online class in order to graduate. (What?) Blogger Tom Aswell says it's a monument to "waste and corruption," especially in light of the problems he's exposed with the program in recent weeks. Idaho had a similar program, but voters removed it by a 2-1 margin, Aswell says.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.
Philip deMahy Sr., a once respected New Iberia ad exec, was sentenced May 2 to spend the next two years (he faced up to 100 years) in a state penitentiary after state and federal investigators found dozens of images depicting children engaged in lewd sexual acts on his personal computer.