Rep. Jeff Landry’s Monday announcement — long expected — sets the stage for a classic mudslinger.
By Walter Pierce
The wait is over: U.S. Rep. Jeff Landry, R-New Iberia, announced Monday in Youngsville that he will challenge Congressman Charles Boustany this fall. And if recent history is a guide — recent history being Landry’s ugly primary election against Hunt Downer for his current seat nearly two years ago — this race will get nasty long before it’s decided.
The freshman congressman and Tea Party favorite took several swipes at the mainline Boustany during Monday’s announcement, linking him with the bogey-woman of the right: “[L]adies and gentlemen, Charles voted with Nancy Pelosi to increase his own pay,” Landry told a group of supporters, hanging the “career politician” albatross around Boustany’s neck.
Landry’s announcement at Sugar Mill Pond in Youngsville was one of the most anticlimactic events of the 2012 political season: Signs have been abundant for weeks that he would take on the moderate, establishment Boustany.
A reception scheduled for May 23 in River Ranch bills itself as “a reception benefitting the re-election of Congressman Jeff Landry, Louisiana, 3rd District.” Couples will pay $250 to attend, $1,000 to host and the handsome sum of $2,500 to serve as sponsors. Twenty-seven individuals and/or couples are signed on as sponsors while 18 are listed as hosts, meaning the fête has already netted Landry more than $85,000.
Landry’s announcement is born of necessity: After 2012 there will be no 3rd Congressional District to which Landry could be re-elected; the district was effectively eliminated during the 2011 redistricting session in the Legislature — absorbed into districts to the east and west including Boustany’s 7th Congressional District, which will expand eastward to take in New Iberia where Landry lives.
The new district for which Boustany will essentially be the incumbent will be called the 3rd Congressional District effective Jan. 1, 2013. But don’t tell the Landry camp that. On the congressman’s website, LandryForLouisiana.com, there is a page devoted to the 3rd Congressional District, but the congressman uses a map of the new 3rd, which doesn’t yet exist. The combined effect of the May 23 fundraiser in Lafayette and the deceptive image on Landry’s website is that Landry is seeking re-election to Boustany’s district. Weird, we know. Landry seems to be inventing a new reality: He’s the incumbent in southwest Louisiana and he wants another term representing the good people of Lafayette, Jennings and Lake Charles.
“Ladies and gentlemen, Charles [Boustany] voted with Nancy Pelosi to increase his own pay.”
– U.S. Rep. Jeff Landry, attacking his opponent in the fall election
And there is growing evidence that he’s been campaigning inappropriately on Boustany’s turf for some time. Just this week, a non-partisan congressional watchdog group called out the rep for another apparent abuse of his federal franking privilege — a month after this newspaper published an exposé of Landry and a less egregious waste — but a waste nonetheless — of taxpayer money.
In a May 14 article posted by the Beltway political newspaper Roll Call, Craig Holman of Public Citizen accuses Landry of abusing the franking privilege by spending more than $30,000 in taxpayer funds in the third quarter of 2011 to finance a series of radio ads in Lafayette and Lake Charles alerting listeners to town hall meetings he attended with U.S. Sen. David Vitter. Lafayette and Lake Charles anchor the east and west ends of Boustany’s 7th Congressional District.
The congressional franking privilege allows members of the U.S. House of Representatives to be reimbursed for communications such as direct mail, radio and TV ads and newspaper inserts so long as those communications are not for re-election purposes and only if said communications are directed at that member of Congress’ constituents. In the “if it walks like a duck” department, Landry appears to have been skirting federal law to build name recognition in Boustany’s district: His communications in Boustany’s district are for “re-election” purposes and they’re not directed at his constituents.
Public Citizen contends that because the radio ads targeted voters in Boustany’s district, they constitute a franking violation. The Landry camp, of course, disputes the allegation — just as it did in our April 11 cover story, “Frankly Speaking,” which makes the case that a “Year End Report” Landry paid to insert into The Independent and The Daily Advertiser, which reach virtually none of Landry’s constituents, at the end of 2011 also constitutes a franking violation.
Boustany, who serves on the powerful Ways and Means Committee and is close to House Speaker John Boehner, says he will definitely seek a fifth term this fall, and he and Landry have already begun sniping at each other in press releases. Political junkies, yonder comes your fix.
JUNE 17 If anyone ever wonders why Saints fans hate Atlanta with a capital H, here's a good indication. Radio "professionals" at an Atlanta station created an entire segment around making fun of former Saints player Steve Gleason, who is now paralyzed by ALS. Listen, nobody's ever accused DJs of being rocket scientists. But how could someone think it is amusing to pretend to ask a man with a degenerative, fatal disease if he will be alive next week? The DJs have been fired, and are now whining about how gutless their former bosses are. Wow.
JUNE 18 Here's the latest from the Advocate on the fatal hit-and-run accident allegedly involving the president of the Livingston Parish School Board. He's accused by police of hitting a 21-year-old man on a highway early Sunday and driving away. The man died at a hospital later. On Monday, police seized the president's truck and towed it away. But he's available for board meetings: apparently a $500 bond is sufficient for this type of thing over in St. Helena Parish.
JUNE 18 Former broadcast journalist Griffin Scott has posted this plea on his blog for financial assistance from his readers. Scott, who says he was fired after he wrote something fairly innocuous (for Facebook) on his wall, is suing a media giant for his job back. He's framed himself as David going after a bloated media giant, and he's probably not far off.
JUNE 18 Here's a fairly absurd column posted on DIG Magazine about the completely absurd practice of naming killer storms. Tornadoes don't have names. Blizzards don't have names. But hurricanes do, and there's a big process to bestow them, Jacques Cormery writes. He's right about the crazy assemblage of names -- this year, there's everything from Tanya to Humberto -- and his idea that we don't waste good names on killer storms is a good one.
JUNE 17 Political columnist John Maginnis has some advice for Louisiana Republicans: grow up. After the schism that occurred in this past session - fiscal hawks teaming up with Democrats to spank the Republican "majority" and hand Gov. Jindal his, er, aspirations for continued solon control -- they need to figure out how to get along with each other, Maginnis writes.
JUNE 17 Here's the Picayune's obit story for Dorothy 'Miss Dot' Domilise, the lady who made poboys at the uptown restaurant that bears her name. Miss Dot moved to New Orleans during World War II, where she met and married her husband Sam. When she passed away Friday she was 90, and had spent more than 60 of those years working at the restaurant on Annunciation Street.
JUNE 17 This editorial in the Advocate speaks in favor of the consent decrees that have federal judges overseeing police operations and the sheriff's parish prison in New Orleans. Mayor Landrieu and Sheriff Gusman can't get along, so outside forces, like the Inspector General and the judges, are needed to make sure things run right, the editorial opines.
JUNE 18 Here's a post from Manny Schewitz on Forward Progressives that is good for a chuckle. Manny had an epiphany back in November, and is sharing it with us today: he believes that Fox "News" is killing the GOP by pandering to right wing nuts. Now, don't get it twisted: Manny's not broke up about it. He says he enjoys watching the downward spiral with a shot of whiskey and "a schadenfreude chaser."
Frank’s Casing Crew, now doing business as Frank’s International, will make its final appearance on ABiz’s list of the Top 50 Privately Held Companies in Acadiana this year, and once again, it will likely be at the top with more than $1 billion in annual revenues. The 75-year-old company specializing in tubular fabrication and installation services to the oil and gas industry plans to go public this year.
The defeat, or rather highjacking of House Bill 420 in the final days of this year's Legislative Session, say Reps. Vincent Pierre and Terry Landry, is the result of the propaganda spread by one unidentified local media outlet and an unnamed former state Representative, but nothing to do with the original legislation's lack of checks, balances or details.
He’s a singer. A songwriter. A piano man. A family man. He’s even got his own Wikipedia entry. He’s David Egan. And he knows ancient secrets about the monolithic stones of Stonehenge that he’s not willing to share.