Anyone remember this?
Or, more appropriately, this?
While the Jindal campaign was producing commercials depicting their opponents as corrupt, money-grubbing (literally, they’re eating money) clowns, we now know that this same campaign, at the same time, was receiving of tens of thousands of dollars in allegedly illegal campaign contributions. From The Times-Picayune (bold mine):
A former executive of a failed Lacombe-based bank, charged last month with funneling illegal political contributions through the bank’s board of directors, gave the $55,000 of allegedly illegal donations to the campaign that first ushered Bobby Jindal to the Governor’s Mansion. It was the same campaign, just days later, that received $30,000 from companies that the Louisiana Board of Ethics alleges were bogus entities formed to launder illegal donations from the embattled River Birch landfill’s parent company.
And, of course, it was the same campaign that ran on an anti-corruption platform, the same campaign that championed a “gold standard” for ethics (which, we later discovered, would not include the Governor’s Office), the same campaign that depicted its opponents as a part of an old-school cabal of entrenched political hacks and opportunists.
Team Jindal, not surprisingly, denies knowing that these contributions were illegal or improper and asserts that they did nothing wrong. And I suppose that for the uninitiated, this may be convincing:
“You get a check and it says it was from so and so, another check says it was from somebody else,” Teepell said. “You act in good faith that those contributions are being made by that person.”
Jindal’s 1,381-page candidate’s report that logged Blossman’s illegal contribution lists more than $2.6 million donated by more than 7,800 individuals between January and April 2007.
It would be impossible, Teepell said, to audit each individual contribution. An accountant goes through the candidate’s finance reports before they are submitted to the state Board of Ethics to check for red flags, though in this case noticed none, Teepell said.
Teepell said he learned the governor was involved from the media, not the feds.
Jindal is not required to give the $55,000 back, he said.
“We’re talking about donations that were given and spent a half-decade ago,” Teepell said. “And donations that were received in good faith and in accordance with the law.”
Sure, Democratic politicians have also found themselves ensnared in similar situations. But what is interesting and noteworthy about Team Jindal is their reluctance to return the money, or, at the very least, donate the money to a worthy charity. Remember, this is a candidate who ran, almost entirely, on an anti-corruption platform, but now that some of his campaign contributions have been exposed as allegedly illegal, he is refusing to even acknowledge or admit to any responsibility. The accountant to whom Mr. Teepell refers was not a government agent; he was a paid employee of the Jindal campaign.
And importantly, although it is unquestionable that Mr. Jindal raised millions of dollars and that these contributions represent a tiny portion of his campaign coffers, there were red flags: They were all maximum contributions given by Louisiana businessmen and businesses at the same time. In the case of the Lacombe bank:
A week later, on April 6, 2007, the Jindal campaign logged having received a $5,000 donation, the maximum allowed by state law, from each of the board members — Mark Perrilloux, Douglas Ferrer, Edward Amar Jr., Henry Powell Jr., Raymond Fontaine, Welton Brumfield Jr., Ann Blossman Dunn, Brandon Faciane, Ralph “Sandy” Menetre III, Charles Law Ponder and James Venezia Sr.
Each listed the address only as Lacombe or, as it was spelled on the campaign finance reports, “LeCombe,” though few of the board members actually have Lacombe addresses.
That’s eleven maximum contributions from Lacombe, Louisiana (population 8,679, a town so far off of the Jindal radar that his campaign didn’t even know the proper spelling), all occurring at the same time, all from members of the same board of the same bank, a bank controlled by someone that Jindal spokesman Kyle Plotkin referred to as a “political acquaintance” of the Governor.
Over the same time period, the average contribution to the Jindal campaign was $333. In other words, sure, Mr. Jindal’s campaign raised a ton of cash, but there were only a small handful of Louisianans who contributed the maximum. Flippantly disregarding these contributions as irrelevant and something that occurred “a half-decade ago” (that would be five years, for those unaccustomed to political spin) is both insulting and ridiculous.
With Mr. Jindal’s “gold standard” of ethics, the pitch may have seemed universal, but the rules were never intended to apply to him. And with this most recent discovery, the message from Team Jindal seems to be: Although we campaigned against corruption, we were too wealthy to prevent it from infecting our own campaign… and besides, this all happened a half-decade ago, ancient history.