From 2002 to 2007, Monica Walker-Weisul served the people of Avoyelles Parish in the Louisiana House of Representatives. After winning a special election to replace Charles Riddle in 2002, Ms. Walker-Weisul ran unopposed in 2003. She decided not to seek re-election in 2007.

During her time in the State legislature, Representative Walker-Weisul learned, first-hand, about the ways in which the Louisiana Family Forum influences our elected officials and steers legislation. After she left a comment on my post about Gene Mills, the LFF’s Executive Director, I asked Ms. Walker-Weisul if she would be willing to answer a few questions, via e-mail, for publication on the blog. Thankfully, she readily agreed.

Here are my questions and her answers, posted in full:

Lamar White: First, thank you for agreeing to answer a few questions. There aren’t many people, particularly current or former legislators, who are willing to speak out about the Louisiana Family Forum. Why do you feel compelled to speak out?

Monica Walker-Weisul: My husband and I are living in Montana now, but I still enjoy keeping up with the Legislature when they are in session. I was shocked when Rep. Badon’s anti-bullying bill did not pass. Then I became angry when I read that Gene Mills with the Louisiana Family Forum characterized the bill as a part of a homosexual agenda, which is absolutely absurd. Mr. Mills has one view of what the world should be, and if you don’t agree with him, you are wrong. I just can’t sit by and watch his bigotry and prejudice without calling him on it.

LW: In basic terms, can you explain how the Louisiana Family Forum influences the legislature? 

MWW: The Louisiana Family Forum is like many other organizations in that they identify proposed legislation to support or oppose. They also recruit legislators to introduce legislation for them to promote their so-called “family values.”

LW: More than likely, most Louisianans have never even heard of the Louisiana Family Forum, yet some consider them to be one of if not the most powerful lobbying group in the State. Are they really that powerful? 

MWW: I agree with you. I don’t believe most people in Louisiana have heard of the LFF, because if they had, I believe there would be more opposition to some of the things this group supports. In Baton Rouge, unfortunately, they do carry a big stick with some legislators. It’s amazing really, almost cult-like. I believe most Louisianans are more open-minded and tolerant of people and issues outside of their comfort zones, something the LFF is incapable of doing. We are all children of God and someone needs to remind the LFF of that.

LW: Have you ever had any personal run-ins with the LFF or with Gene Mills? If so, can you share some of your impressions? 
MWW: Yes, I have. Several years ago a friend’s daughter was working with Gene Mills and the LFF. They had a room set up in what she described as their “war room” where they had pictures of legislators that had a different opinion or didn’t vote with them. My picture was on that wall, and it really upset my friend’s daughter. Their goal was to recruit people to run against those of us who didn’t support them.In simple terms, Gene Mills would like nothing better than to remove any democratic legislator because they don’t agree with the conservative values he promotes. He’s even gone as far as calling democrats an “endangered species” and at some point there might need to be a quota so democrats can serve. It’s a pompous attitude and one that is so far off base in our political world.

LW: Every year, the LFF publishes a scorecard for each and every legislator. The scorecard is not widely distributed, but for some reason, it seems to be one of their most powerful tools. Are our lawmakers really worried about earning a low score from the LFF? 

MWW: Yes, but mostly those legislators who tend to be more right-wing in their beliefs.  For the most part, moderate Republicans and most Democrats don’t pay that much attention to their scorecard. I will say that the LFF will try to intimidate legislators who have opposing views on issues by labeling them “anti-family”. When Gene Mills and the LFF would walk into a committee hearing, you just knew there was a hidden agenda in the proposed legislation, and more likely a very prejudiced one at that!

What angers a lot of people about the LFF is their hypocritical stance, saying they are acting in the name of God, but you are not one of God’s children unless Gene Mills and the LFF say so.  In that case, the rules are very different for any group that doesn’t fit the LFF mold.

LW: Aside from Gene Mills, do you know if anyone else lobbies on behalf of the LFF? 

MWW: I’m not aware of any other group that lobbies on behalf of the LFF. Most groups are more open-minded and I believe they don’t want to be associated with the LFF.
****

Next: What is the Louisiana Family Forum?

6 thoughts

  1. Lamar, thank you for being part of the light that has to shine on the darkness that calls itself the Louisiana Family Forum. Ms. Walker-Weisul is no doubt correct in her assessment that most residents are not familiar with LFF, and I suspect the LFF would prefer to keep it that way.

  2. It is disturbing to see how legislators can be so easily influenced by a little known organization to act in ways that are not in the best interests of the people who elected them. Is there any evidence that the LFF also is involved in the legislation that has warped science education in our public schools? It seems to be their kind of issue.
    Thanks for shining some light on this almost secretive organization.

    1. Mr. Lott–

      There is a mountain of evidence that proves the Louisiana Family Forum was the principal force behind the Louisiana Science Education Act. When Senator Ben Nevers introduced the bill in 2008, he publicly stated that he was doing so at the behest of the Louisiana Family Forum.

      Dan Richey, who works at the LFF, also moonlighted with Senator David Vitter’s campaign in 2004; he was paid over $17,000 by Vitter for “grassroots” consulting services.

      In 2007, Vitter attempted to earmark $100,000 in federal funds for the LFF to create model legislation for science education. Thankfully, as far as I can tell, the federal funding never materialized. Despite the LFF’s insistence that they’re only attempting to foster “critical thinking,” they have also, from the very beginning, made it clear their real motivation was to discredit the scientific theory of evolution. As Zack Kopplin said on MSNBC last week, you don’t need a law to promote critical thinking in the science classroom. Science is critical thinking. The only reason you need a law is if you want to introduce creationism into the science classroom.

      http://blog.nola.com/times-picayune/2007/09/vitter_earmarked_federal_money.html

      Last week, when the repeal was being debated in the Senate Education Committee, at least one paid employee of the Louisiana Family Forum testified in opposition. Notably, this person, Dale Hoffpauir, is not a registered lobbyist.

      More in the next post.

  3. Thanks for this CenLamar. More’s the pity that Ms. Walk.er-Weisul is no longer in the La. legislature. We need people like her. Please pass on to her my appreciation for speaking out. I’m very familiar with the LFF, but had no idea that they had the power they seem to have. I really should have known. Sigh.

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