by Elliott Stonecipher
That Louisiana’s “ethics reform” exercise was pure folly is now an inescapable fact. Governor Bobby Jindal openly mocks the system by using in-state campaign funds for his national political campaigning. Our top Ethics Administration official cites the legal prohibition, but our governor – the personal designer of the subject system – knows very well that he and other violators have nothing to fear.
The evidence of Jindal’s own “ethics gold standard” violations are presented in last night’s installment in the Peabody Award-winning Louisiana Purchased series by investigative journalist Lee Zurik of WVUE Television in New Orleans and Times-Picayune / NOLA.com enterprise editor Manuel Torres. (See the WVUE report here, and the Times-Pic / NOLA.com report here.)
I again thank Lee Zurik and team for including me in these reports. More background on their series, and on my related work over the past several years, was the subject of a like article last week.
Put simply, Jindal uses the office of Governor as a platform from which to raise money in his farcical, most believe, campaign for President of the United States. Such is why keeps the title but is so notably absent in performing the duties for which he was elected.
As you read or view this latest report – with evidence documented to a degree very, very rarely seen in today’s journalism – note this section which details how specifically Governor Jindal’s spending practices are prohibited in Louisiana ethics law:
“Louisiana Ethics Administrator Kathleen Allen cited provisions defining who is a candidate and what constitutes public office. Together, those provisions exclude ‘the office of President or Vice President of the United States,’ as well as Congress, presidential electors and party offices.
‘When I read these provisions together, the conclusion is that you are a candidate for a state race, and the money you raise can be used only for [a state] campaign or for exercise of that office,’ Allen said.”
I have written and spoken publicly about the 2008 ethics special legislative session since that particular bus ran over Louisianans. As a pro bono consultant to the then-Louisiana Board of Ethics, I knew very well that gutting ethics enforcement was the essence of Jindal’s self-promoting political op.
The standard of evidence in such cases was deliberately raised to a level virtually impossible to reach in such civil law “prosecutions,” and the state official then put in charge of choosing a panel of adjudicators in any such prosecution is an unclassified state employee who serves solely at the pleasure of the governor.
Please take the few necessary minutes to watch this latest report in the Louisiana Purchased series. Doing so well demonstrates just how broken is our ethics regime in Louisiana.
Elliott Stonecipher’s reports and commentaries are written strictly in the public interest, with no compensation of any kind solicited or accepted. Appropriate credit to Mr. Stonecipher in the sharing – unedited only, please – of his work is appreciated.