BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — While Gov. Bobby Jindal crisscrossed the country stumping for Mitt Romney's unsuccessful White House bid, Louisiana taxpayers picked up the tab for the governor's security detail, with a price tag topping $18,000.
The Republican governor's trip on an Iowa bus tour aimed at ousting an Iowa Supreme Court justice cost Louisiana nearly $1,200. A September speech by Jindal to the New Hampshire Republican Party added another $2,500 to the tally.
Taxpayers in Jindal's home state have shelled out thousands as the governor travels the country for political events, fundraisers and campaign speeches that have little to do with official state business.
Jindal's campaign, other GOP campaigns or event hosts pay for the governor's flights, meals and hotels when he travels for non-state business, but the Louisiana State Police reaches into its own budget to cover similar costs for the governor's bodyguards.
An Associated Press review of the expense statements filed by troopers shows at least $226,500 has been paid for out-of-state travel with Jindal since he took office in 2008.
Sixty-two percent of the money spent on flights, hotel rooms, meals and taxis for the security guards involved trips that had more to do with Jindal's political ambitions and his prominence within the Republican Party than his role as Louisiana's chief executive.
A spokesman for the governor, Sean Lansing, didn't directly answer a question about whether Jindal has considered reimbursing the security detail's travel costs from the $3.7 million in his own campaign account, rather than from tax dollars in a state struggling with repeated budget shortfalls.
"The state does not pay for the governor's unofficial travel out of state. As far as State Police, they have a legal duty to provide protection. As far as how, when, and where they do that — that's up to them," Lansing said in a statement.
"The governor trusts them to do their job, and he is grateful for their service. We wouldn't want anyone else interfering with their security determinations," Lansing said.
Considered a possible 2016 presidential contender, Jindal has traveled to dozens of states to collect campaign dollars, meet voters and help other Republican candidates. He has built a network of fundraising and political relationships that position him well for a future national campaign.
The governor has visited 37 states on almost 170 trips, according to an AP tally of the travel announced by Jindal's office since 2008.
In 2012, Jindal campaigned with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. He talked at the Oklahoma Republican Party's state convention. He helped fundraise for the GOP in Alabama, New Mexico and Colorado. He traveled across 10 states to pitch Romney for president.
Col. Mike Edmonson, the superintendent of state police and a Jindal appointee, said he has never asked — and the governor has never offered — to reimburse the trooper travel costs.
"When is he not the governor? They're always governor no matter what they're doing, so you have to protect them," Edmonson said.
State police protection for the governor and his family is written into law, whether it's state business, a political event or a campaign fundraiser. The state police determine how many troopers are in Jindal's security detail depending on the location and event.
Edmonson said the out-of-state expenses haven't been a hindrance to his budget. He said he has worked with other states to have their local police help with security to reduce Louisiana's costs, and he said Jindal keeps the trips short, which shrinks expenses.
"Bobby Jindal will come home a lot, so he's not spending the night out. A lot of these things are one-day trips. The ones that are overnight have been minimal. That cuts down on costs a lot," the police superintendent said.
JUNE 19 Former Saint Steve Gleason, who is paralyzed by ALS, released a statement Tuesday in response to the Atlanta radio station's skit making fun of him and the disease, this Picayune post reports. What did he say? He said he'd accepted the apology of the DJs who did it, notes that at least the incident has got people talking about ALS, and asks anyone who is burning to take action about it to do so -- by helping him fight ALS.
JUNE 19 Blogger Ian McGibboney takes a look at the Gleason incident in this post. He makes a good argument about the difference between having free speech and being free from consequences for your speech (which none of us is). He also admits that many of us got upset before we listened to the skit -- but lets us know that the reality is far worse than we can imagine. It was the incredibly bad judgment, even more than the actual speech, that probably got those DJs fired, he opines.
JUNE 19 Washington Post blogger Aaron Blake writes about Sen. Guillory's switch to the GOP in this post. He writes what most political watchers in Louisiana know: Guillory was a Republican before he decided to run for the senate seat in a mostly-D St. Landry district, and has switched back now that he plans to run for Lt. Gov. in a mostly-R state. But how come Blake missed Guillory's appearance on a TLC pageant show? Now that is a video we'd like to see. (Again).
JUNE 19 Here's another Washington Post blog post about a Louisiana politician, and it's just plain scathing. Ezra Klein says Jindal's Politico post was "insulting" to the intelligence of voters, and adds that Jindal is personifying the "stupid" he's railed against, by being an "elite" who convinces GOP activists of "things that aren't true." Me-ow.
JUNE 19 Here's Gov. Jindal's post in Politico, in which he asks the GOP to get over losing to Obama (again) and stop "the bedwetting." (Uh, what?) He gives his Republican buddies what is probably a nerd's idea of a coach's motivational talk, which starts with a list of accomplishments that they can't seem to exploit and ending with an absurd description of liberals that sounds like a character treatment for a Fox "News" movie scripted by Gordon Liddy. Sure, he's preaching to the choir, but even the choir's not this gullible.
JUNE 19 Lamar Parmentel read Gov. Jindal's post on Politico, but thinks it was so dumb it probably was published in the wrong paper. This post by Lamar on the Daily Kingfish opines that possibly Jindal's post was destined for the Onion -- because the governor couldn't possibly be serious here. If you listen closely, you can hear the staff of the Kingfish giggling.
JUNE 19 Blogger Robert Mann posts from Turkey, a country he has visited several times in the past few years. Mann gives an interesting overview of the current political and societal climate of the country, which -- if you're living under a rock and don't know -- is experiencing protests and turmoil these days. Mann promises to post as much as he can during his trip, which should be fascinating reading.
JUNE 19 Blogger CB Forgotston says the legislature is keeping the vicious cycle going with its funding of new buildings for the community college/technical college system. Universities across the state need maintenance and improvement on existing buildings, and the solution is to build new buildings at other schools? By the time the bonds are paid off, those buildings will be falling down, too, CB says.
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 offer shares of its stock to the public for the first time.
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.