Today, Governor-elect Bobby Jindal announced he was endorsing Republican Jim Tucker to become the next Speaker of the House… which is funny. Only three days ago, Jindal’s spokeswoman, Melissa Sellers, told the Times-Picayune:
Republican Gov.-elect Bobby Jindal released a written statement Friday through spokeswoman Melissa Sellers reiterating his pledge to stay out of the legislative leadership races.
“The governor-elect is continuing to let the members of the House choose their own leader and has been clear that he does not think that process can completely run its course until after the runoff elections this weekend. We plan to talk to the members over the coming days to see if a consensus has formed.”
The problem, beside the fact that Jindal had pledged to stay out of leadership races, is that a consensus was never formed. The run-offs were held only three days ago, and Democrats retained their control of the House.
Representative Cazayoux understands this; after Jindal made his announcement, Cazayoux told the Associated Press:
Cazayoux, of New Roads, said though Tucker was in the lead with votes, he didn’t think Tucker had enough to win the speaker’s election until Jindal offered his support.
“We certainly wish the governor had allowed the process to continue independently because I do think it’s very important for an effective and strong Legislature to elect its leadership independently,” Cazayoux said.
Who is Jim Tucker? The same AP article tells us that Tucker “helped orchestrate a sharp partisan divide in the House.” And we also know that Jim Tucker is the founder of T-PAC, a Republican political action committee financed by a consortium of nursing homes (and sizable donations from Tucker’s campaign fund).
Tucker created T-PAC on January 8, 2007, and within two months, T-PAC had raised over $30,000.
T-PAC’s first donation: $1,000 to Nick Lorusso.
According to a subsequent report, T-PAC officially supported the following Republican candidates: Jack Causey, Jonathan Perry, Lance Maxwell, Kirby Roy, Rick Nowlin, Frank Howard, Patrick Connick, Nickie Monica, Isabella Delahousaye, Raymond “LaLa” LaLonde, and Cameron Henry. They actually “supported” three Democrats: Bernard LeBas, Simone Champagne (who ran unopposed), and Fred Mills.
All of their Republican candidates received $1,000. Fred Mills also received $1000, but Champagne and LeBas only received $500.
Ten days before the General Election, they reported a string of other donations, all to Republicans. $1,000 to Joe Harrison, $2500 to Mitch Theriot, $1000 to Clif Richardson, $2500 to Michael McMyne, and $1000 to Chris Hazel (who they reported giving an additional $1000 in another report).
Unfortunately, run-off reports have not yet been disclosed, but during the primary, T-PAC donated to 16 Republican candidates and 3 Democratic candidates (one of whom was running unopposed).
But T-PAC is not the most offensive part of this story.
Karen Carter is.
Carter, a Democrat, had wanted to become Speaker of the House, and when she realized she could not have received the necessary votes, she told the media, three days before the run-off, that she was now supporting Tucker, who, at the time, was trailing Cazayoux by nearly thirty (likely) votes. Indeed, Cazayoux had likely already had the majority (the consensus) of the House before the run-off.
Jindal then swooped in, broke (once again) his campaign promise of not interfering in leadership races, and endorsed a Republican who had (conveniently) donated to a slew of Republican candidates (through his political action committee) and who has a reputation for being divisive and intensely partisan.
But the vote is more than two months away, and Democrats waged an intense battle to retain their majority. I seriously cannot understand how anyone would be willing to sacrifice their rightful places in leadership positions simply to assuage the Republican Party. Are Democrats really willing to give the Republicans, the LCRM, and all of their related political action committees a consolation prize?
How can we expect a true ethics reform package (a package that would include campaign finance reform) when the Speaker of the State House is a Republican with his own nursing home political action committee?
H/t to PointeCoupeeDemocrat.