On Oct. 24, 2015, Louisiana State Treasurer John Neely Kennedy won his fifth consecutive term by an astounding 80% of the vote, defeating his opponent, Jennifer Treadway, a Baton Rouge lawyer and fellow Republican, by overwhelming margins in every single parish.
Kennedy won by a larger margin than any other statewide candidate in any other election, and it wasn’t even close.
Shortly after Treadway qualified on Sept. 8, she issued a statement to the media, explaining her rationale. “The failures of Bobby Jindal and John Kennedy as Chief Executives have kept Louisiana at the bottom of the good lists for far too long,” she said. “Their fiscal irresponsibility and tyrannical leadership have prevented Louisiana from progressing.
“Louisiana deserves a Treasurer who will focus on being Treasurer of Louisiana, not on seeking a higher office,” she continued. “Louisiana voters need a fresh face with new ideas who can work to solve problems. Louisiana needs a real leader. I am that leader.”
All of these things sound righteous and reasonable, and at least at first, it appeared as if Ms. Treadway intended on running a legitimately competitive campaign.
But I decided to take a close look at Ms. Treadway’s campaign finance reports.
She raised less than $10,000, loaned herself a few bucks, and counted a few in-kind contributions. All told, she didn’t raise enough money to make her even remotely competitive in a City Council race, even in a smaller city like Monroe or Alexandria, and she most certainly wasn’t even remotely close to affording the resources it would have required to run a statewide election.
However, in her reports, I noticed a familiar name, Jason Redmond. On June 15th and 19th, Mr. Redmond generously provided her with $270 in tickets.
Update: Treadway claims those donations were made when she was contemplating a different election, presumably House District 66. She also claims that the Ethics Board had considering fining her for failure to file a 90 day report for state elections, but because she decided to switch elections later, she was exonerated.
And a few months after her campaign was over and she was roundly defeated, Ms. Treadway didn’t decide to dissolve her organization. She is apparently leaving it on standby, perhaps in the event that she decides to once again run for State Treasurer or something else statewide. This time, though, she’s replaced her old campaign treasurer with her generous friend, Jason Redmond.
I’ve mentioned Jason Redmond before, and I think almost everyone would agree that it’s not only suspicious he once donated to Ms. Treadway’s legislative campaign; it’s even more concerning and strange that he is now the guy in charge of preparing her campaign filings.
That’s right: Jason Redmond has worked for Treadway’s opponent for most of his life. (Watchdog PAC was initially conceived a a state PAC for Kennedy and eventually endorsed him for Treasurer). He is now the Executive Director of Make Louisiana Proud, the pro-John Kennedy federal SuperPAC.
Obviously, he made a fairly good salary from Treasurer Kennedy in the fifteen years he worked as the Deputy State Treasurer and Communications, and during the election season, he racked in some campaign lagniappe. Here’s just a sample:
Oh, and here’s some of the money he’s already made from Make Louisiana Proud:
Just in case you’re skeptical that these are, in fact, the same two Jason Redmonds, consider that the number listed on Treadway’s campaign finance reports is the same number listed on his professional Facebook page. And in the event you are skeptical that Mr. Redmond is in fact the Executive Director of Make Louisiana Proud, this is from their website:
So, the obvious question is: Why, on earth, was John Kennedy’s most trusted and valued employee providing nearly $300 in in-kind contributions to his competitor’s campaign (albeit a month and a half before she officially jumped into the race), and why is he now responsible for putting together her campaign committee reports?
This seems highly unusual and more than a little suspicious. Perhaps there are some perfectly reasonable explanations as to why Kennedy’s most trusted ally, most loyal employee, and the head of his federal SuperPAC would assist a woman who pretended to run against him, raised practically no money, and got herself humiliated by losing in a sixty point obliteration. Maybe he felt sorry for her.
Or maybe, just maybe, she never intended to run a real campaign at all. That’d sure make things easier for John Kennedy.
To her credit, Treadway states, ” I stand by all of my campaign speeches. I was right about Kennedy and did my best to convince voters. Everyone I spoke to told me they and their friends voted for me. I only was a state candidate for less than seven weeks.” She also insists that she opposes Treasurer Kennedy and considers him to be a bully.
Either way, none of this makes Louisiana proud.