If you didn’t get enough campaign finance fodder out of this week’s story, "Vote for Me Dot Com," on the race to capture the 3rd Congressional District, here’s a bit more to chew on. So far, the four candidates fighting it out have spent more than $425,000 on building modern campaigns that encompass everything from polling and consultants to salaried workers and t-shirts.
Ravi Sangisetty, a Houma attorney, stands out from the rest of the pack because he’s the only Democrat, but his campaign has also expended the most resources in the developing 3rd Congressional District contest — about $260,000. A review of his expense reports on file with the Federal Elections Commission shows a structure that’s thus far unmatched in the race, with several workers and consultants on the rolls.
In fact, during April and March, Sangisetty spent in excess of $41,000 on salaries alone. The only out-of-state salaried worker appears to be Warren Ables of Texas. The rest are from Louisiana, like Lynncal T. Bering of LaPlace, Adam Hensgens of Crowley and Katrina Ann McDonald of Thibodaux. Houma residents on the payroll include Rachelle Netzer, Bobby Pierce, Jennifer Smith and Julienne Uhlich.
With the exception of Ourso Beychok Johnson, a highly sought-after Democratic consulting firm in Baton Rouge, Sangisetty has imported many essential campaign services from outside of the state. This includes $35,000 worth of polling from Myers Research of Virginia and $3,500 in media training from Fletcher Rowley Riddle of Florida, which is a firm that is also used by Congressman Charlie Melancon, D-Napoleonville, who is vacating the 3rd Congressional District to run for the U.S. Senate.
But that’s only a small sampling of the team Sangisetty, a political newcomer, has built — Mobilize of Chicago has been given $3,000 in consulting fees, Hamilton Campaigns of Florida has provided $4,250 worth of research to the campaign and D.C.-based Schaeffer Strategies is serving as a fundraising consultant.
New Iberia attorney Jeff Landry, a Republican, has so far spent more than $116,000 on his bid. Most of his campaign activities are moving through the Virginia office of Littlefield and Associates — more than $64,000 on media strategies, consulting, advertising, mailings and more. As for workers, Landry has given reimbursements to Leilani Hardee of Morgan City and Cherise Guidry of St. Martinville.
Aside from a $6,000 telephone research survey conducted by Teleopinion Research of Virginia and another $6,500 in campaign services to the Minnesota-based Trail Blazer, Landry is spending a good deal of his money in and around the district, like $1,000 in printing to DKM Printer in Scott, $484 for stickers from Bay Lan in St, Martinville and $1,900 in apparel from Lipari in New Iberia.
Former House Speaker Hunt Downer of Houma, a fellow Republican, entered the race shortly before qualifying and had only spent $34,000 on his campaign as of June 30, according to the FEC. Locally, Marco Izaguirre, president of La Casa del Sol Restaurant, has ponied up $1,500 in advertising costs for Downer’s campaign and Jessica Thornton of Thibodaux has earned about $1,500 as a fundraising consultant. Nungesser Consulting of Baton Rouge has pulled down $7,500 doing the same. Outside talent includes TCB Consulting of Colorado, which was paid $3,100 for research services.
Republican Kristian Magar, an oilfield manager from New Iberia, has spent about $13,000 on his campaign so far, focusing largely on grassroots expenditures like newspaper ads and campaign paraphernalia.
MAY 17 Here's a column from James Gill, this time in the Advocate. Gill, who has jumped ship from the Picayune, writes about the absurdity of dueling polls in this post. The numbers are so wildly different, it is obvious that both sides are "cooking the books," he writes. In particular, he looks at Sen. Mary Landrieu, and how her recent actions in DC have been received by those polled. Gill's acerbic, amusing prose is a welcome addition to a paper so conservative as to be occasionally lacking in personality.
MAY 17 Blogger Tom Aswell continues delivering bombshells about the state education department and Gov. Jindal's education "reform" efforts. In this post, he reports that students in the Shreveport area have been signed up for a charter school without their knowledge or consent. Most interesting to Aswell is how this Texas-based charter (with ties to GOP types) got the personal student information it has, if the students didn't give it.
MAY 17 This post by JR Ball in the Baton Rouge Business Report is an interesting tongue-in-cheek look at recent Baton Rouge economic development efforts. Among the items he examines is the idea that gaining a Costco makes BR a "world-class city." (Really? All you need is a different brand of Sam's? MK!) This effort, and other recent ones, are all built on the taxpayer's back, with tax zones, tax incentives and tax rebates, Ball writes.
MAY 17 Blogger CB Forgotston is critical of the legislature's reliance on a revenue-estimating committee's decision to include projected tax amnesty income in this year's forecast. That's a problem, CB posts, because the deadline for these people to pay their taxes is June 30, 2014. So when do you think these people who haven't paid taxes in years are going to pay their taxes? Surely not before June 30, and that means the money won't be there for this year's budget, he argues.
MAY 17 Here's an interesting blog out of California by a Hollywood writer, attorney and academic named Brian Alan Lane. He blogs about higher ed, and was a whistle-blower in a scandal over false credentials. In this post, he takes aim at LSU's new top dog, King Alexander. It's convoluted and a little confusing, but it sure makes Alexander a lot more interesting than he was yesterday.
MAY 17 Blogger Robert Mann writes about the LSU Board's refusal to allow Dr. Fred Cerise to testify before the legislature about Gov. Jindal's plan to close down all the state's charity hospitals and dump the poor on the private system. It's hard to imagine anyone more qualified than Cerise to testify about that, so why would anyone try to prevent him doing so? Mann thinks it is because the powers that be aren't interested in hearing any truth about the plan.
MAY 17 This post on the Louisiana Sinkhole Bugle, a blog that notes developments in the Bayou Corne and Jefferson Island salt domes, talks about a proposed expansion of the salt dome storage under Lake Peigneur in Iberia Parish. Residents are working against it for several reasons, including two biggies: the sinkhole disaster in Bayou Corne and the continuing, unexplained bubbling on the surface of the Lake.
MAY 17 NOLA police arrested more people Thursday accused of either being involved in the Mother's Day shooting or hiding the suspect afterward, this Gambit story reports. The NOLA police chief said he suspects the whole thing was gang-related and throws out a challenge to the gangs: he's got informants now, he says, and he knows a lot more than the gangs want him to know. The people who live in the neighborhoods terrorized by gangs are ready to talk, he says.
Is it a crime for citizens to photograph, video, or take notes of a police officer in the line of duty, or a right protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution? Locally, such activity, as witnessed recently, will at the very least result in a night spent behind bars.
David Calhoun and Elizabeth “EB” Brooks are the first two employees of Lafayette Central Park Inc., the nonprofit charged with turning Lafayette Consolidated Government’s 100-acre Johnston Street Horse Farm property into a passive public park. Calhoun was named executive director, and Brooks is director of planning and design.
Episcopal School of Acadiana’s Dr. Joshua Caffery, chair of the school’s English Department, is headed to Washington, D.C., and the Library of Congress as the latest winner of the Alan Lomax Fellowship in Folklife Studies.