The question of who has the most money on hand is foremost in many people's minds, but lots of other interesting tidbits in the reports frequently go unreported. For instance, candidates can use their campaign money to give to charities and churches; such donations offer a glimpse into their character or beliefs. The reports also show how they're spending contributions and who is getting the money, whether it's buying advertisements or Sunday brunch for supporters.
Despite her low standing in the polls, Gov. Kathleen Blanco reported more than $3 million in the bank, more than any other candidate. It's a dubious achievement when one considers that Blanco, a Democrat, has been running for re-election since she was first elected in 2003. Then again, she shut down her fundraising efforts for almost a year after Hurricane Katrina.
Lafayette residents and businesses gave Blanco $143,000 last year. New Orleans residents and businesses gave Blanco $130,550 last year, but she doesn't hold the tiara for most cash collected from the Crescent City. That honor belongs to Bobby Jindal, the Republican wunderkind she beat in 2003 ' mostly because of the huge vote she got in â?¦ New Orleans.
Among Blanco's donors is former U.S. Sen. John Breaux, who coughed up $5,000. Also a Democrat, Breaux reportedly has been considering a run for governor himself ' if Blanco does not run ' a dichotomy that is making for serious political gossip and speculation in closed-door party meetings. Breaux flirted with a run for governor before, but demurred. This time he is rumored to be genuinely interested in the race, provided Blanco does not run.
Blanco spent more than $370,000 in 2006, dropping $11,000 on public opinion polls and $82,000 on radio advertisements. She is known to oppose any expansion of legalized gambling in Louisiana, but she nonetheless shelled out $130.83 for "accommodations" at Sam's Town in Shreveport and the Horseshoe Casino in Bossier City.
In the political realm, Blanco made only one contribution of $5,000 ' to Dale Atkins, clerk of Orleans Parish Civil District Court and a longtime close friend of the governor. As for her favorite charities, Blanco, an Acadiana native, donated to the following causes: 100 Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge, $1,500; NAACP Baton Rouge, $1,000; Louisiana Governor's Mansion Foundation, $3,750; Lafayette Bishops' Charity Gala, $200; Cerebral Palsy of Louisiana, $100; Plantation Elementary in Lafayette, $100.
Congressman Bobby Jindal of Kenner, a Republican, isn't far behind Blanco with $2.6 million in his campaign war chest, far exceeding the $1 million goal he had set for himself. Nearly all of individual contributors came from Louisiana, and donors from New Orleans sent more money to him than any other candidate ' $244,090. Only $7,000 raised by Jindal last year came from political action committees, which is a meager sum for a Beltway star like Jindal. If he needs them, PACS will be a source that Jindal can tap at any time.
Jindal spent only $22,000 last year, including $12,000 for a mailout in late December. His federal campaign finance report, however, shows that he spent more than $2.3 million on his congressional re-election, even though he was facing only token opposition. Jindal toured every area of the state and advertised in markets that barely touch his congressional district. It was a convenient ' and cost-efficient ' way to spend federal campaign dollars keeping his mug in front of voters in the most populous parts of the state.
One distinction of Jindal's gubernatorial report is a $9,000 payment to the Washington-based Aristotle International Inc., a company that compiles and sells voter information lists, for handling his online donations. Raising money through the Internet is still a novelty in Louisiana, but Jindal may break the mold. His 2006 donations report is littered with hundreds of $10 and $25 donations, the nominal amounts suggested on his Web site.
When it comes to in-kind contributions, Jindal leads the pack. Former Gov. Mike Foster, a Republican who helped Jindal cut his teeth in politics, gave $800 worth of food and beverages for a fundraiser on Pecan Island. Murphy J. Foster III, the former governor's son, gave Jindal use of his private jet at a fair market value of $1,200.
But it's the free rooms that Jindal seems to like the most. He lists more than any other candidate. From the Marriott Courtyard in Monroe to the Super 8 in Lake Charles, Jindal reported at least 19 individual-night stays for a value of roughly $3,542.
W. Gilbert Stroud, Jr., of Metairie is the most important donor to the campaign of New Orleans businessman John Georges, a Republican. Maybe that's because Stroud is the only one who gave in 2006. However, his $250 donation did bring Georges' campaign fund to slightly above $2 million. No, it's not funny math. Georges, the longtime owner of Imperial Trading Company in Harahan, has already dumped $2 million of his own cash into the campaign. He could easily come up with more. Imperial did $500 million in sales last year, and Georges owns interests in a number of companies, including a business that distributes video poker machines.
Sen. Walter Boasso, a Republican from Arabi, is in the same boat, financially speaking. He has only 22 contributions listed in his most recent report ' nearly $16,000 ' and almost all of it from special interests. But Boasso is also independently wealthy and admittedly hasn't even started fundraising yet. He did formally announce, however.
Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell, a Shreveport native and former member of the state Senate, is the Democratic dark horse in the race. His populist message might resonate among voters long fatigued from the state's slow recovery, but he'll have to raise more money than the $577,000 he reported last month to get his message out. Recently, he told reporters his total is nearly $750,000 now. Shreveport gave the bulk of Campbell's individual donations ($82,700).
Expenditures show that Campbell has been seriously exploring the race since July, when he paid the Florida-based Kitchens Group $15,000 for polling. The next month he donated $1,700 to Congressman Charlie Melancon, a fellow Democrat from Napoleonville, as well as $500 to Gonzales state Sen. Jody Amedee and $250 to Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff Marlin Gusman's campaign. And, in an effort possibly to ward off conflicts between tailgating and campaigning, Campbell's campaign committee paid $1,112 for LSU season football tickets.
No reports were filed by announced independent candidates Anthony "Tony G" Gentile and T. Lee Horn.
The Lafayette superintendent insists the budget is illegal and vows to fight on.
"I am not a scientist," Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has said numerous times, a response that other members of his party have parroted.
Republicans are running strong races against endangered Democratic incumbents in states such as North Carolina, Colorado, Arkansas, Louisiana and Alaska. Republicans are also looking to replace retiring Democrats in Iowa and West Virginia with a GOP lawmaker.
Republican congressman Vance McAllister is trying to make up to Louisiana voters for getting too close to a married former employee.
You may not like all of “it,” but U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, unlike many of her colleagues, isn't sitting around twiddling her thumbs in Congress.
Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro says he "can't wait" to play against Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
The heat keeps rising for Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal as a new slate of corruption allegations surfaced this week.
If opposing defenses sell out to stop the Packers' passing game, they risk being gashed by powerful running back Eddie Lacy, a New Orleans-area native.
At the horn the officiating crew trotted to the tunnel and left security personnel to clean up after them.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Sign "ninjas" cleaning up clutter; NYC doctor positive for Ebola; Ferguson grand jury decision nears; and more national and international news for Friday, October 24, 2014.
We can safely assume incumbent Chief K.P. Gibson isn’t too worried about this challenger.
Nationally, Republicans must gain six seats to win Senate control. The most competitive races, many in states where Obama lost in 2012, remain too close to call.
The Baton Rouge Republican has repeatedly battled a perception within his own party that he perhaps wasn't the best choice to carry the GOP banner.
Even if Jimmy Graham's production dips while the star tight end recovers from a shoulder injury, it looks like Drew Brees won't have much trouble finding other targets.
A former campaign manager for Senate candidate Rob Maness is striking at the Republican contender's tea party support, saying Maness only sought to appeal to conservative organizations because he needed money for his campaign.
Ninety-two percent of public school teachers were rated either effective or highly effective in a report the state issued marking the second year of a new statewide evaluation process.
School board members Mark Babineaux, Hunter Beasley and Tehmi Chassion can vote to fire Cooper — because we all know that’s exactly what they’ll do.
District 2 school board candidate Simon Mahan is hoping to unseat first-term incumbent and former Carencro Mayor Tommy Angelle in the Nov. 4 election.
District Attorney Mike Harson is showing his desperation by falsely attributing quotes to his opponent and blocking journalists from his social media.
The governor is traveling the country laying the groundwork for a possible 2016 presidential campaign, but his approval ratings at home hover well below 50 percent.
State District Judge Bob Downing extended the order and delayed a planned Wednesday hearing about a permanent injunction while negotiations continue between Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and the waste disposal site operator.
New Louisiana higher education commissioner Joseph Rallo will be paid more than his predecessor.
Elijah McGuire and Alonzo Harris each had four rushing touchdowns, and Louisiana-Lafayette rolled to 419 yards on the ground in a 55-40 victory over Arkansas State on Tuesday night.
Bill and Hillary Clinton are the validators-in-chief for Democrats struggling through a bleak campaign season in states where President Barack Obama is deeply unpopular.