Last Saturday, Josh Pellerin, the president and founder of an oil and gas company in Lafayette, Louisiana and an announced Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate (he filed with the FEC on March 24th), addressed a meeting of the Democratic State Central Committee, along with two other announced candidates, Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell and New Orleans attorney and former candidate for Lt. Governor Caroline Fayard.
Pellerin, 34, is a political newcomer, and according to some present at the DSCC meeting, his speech was “unimpressive” and “meandering” and “bizarre.”
“It’s like he accidentally showed up at the wrong party’s meeting,” one source told me. By all accounts, Pellerin’s speech was not warmly received, using most of his allotted time to extol the virtues of an industry that has made him a fortune.
His campaign website is technically online, but as of now, it only features a banner image of his logo:
Because not much is known quite yet about the man who would like to represent the people of Louisiana in the United States Senate, I’ve compiled a list of the most important and, in many cases, problematic things about candidate Pellerin.
Pellerin Is A Life-Long Republican Who Became a Democrat Last Year.
The Democratic Party prides itself on being a big tent, so Pellerin’s recent defection to the party shouldn’t be, in and of itself, suspicious. After all, in the last three years, Josh Pellerin has contributed $7,800 to federal Democratic candidates, $1,000 to former Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado, $2,700 to the presidential campaign of Sec. Hillary Clinton, and $4,100 to former Sen. Mary Landrieu, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.
However, Pellerin remained a member of the Republican Party until at least early 2015. In fact, his last vote was on December 6, 2014, in the run-off election between Sen. Mary Landrieu and Congressman Bill Cassidy. Presumably, even though he was a Republican, Pellerin supported Landrieu with his vote. (According to the Louisiana Secretary of State, Pellerin is now a registered Democrat).
At the time, it’s still worth noting that Sen. Landrieu was the Chairwoman of the Senate Energy Committee (though would have become the committee’s ranking member as a result of Republicans gaining control of the Senate) and that donations to her could be considered a tactical business decision for the founder and president of a large Louisiana-based oil and gas company.
Four days before the Republican Pellerin cast his vote in the run-off election between Sen. Landrieu and Rep. Cassidy, he cut a $10,000 check to the Democratic National Committee, an enormous donation that, due to the timing, could not have been used for the benefit of the Landrieu campaign, the result of which, by then, was a foregone conclusion.
What does one receive in exchange for a $10,000 donation to the DNC?
Well, as Pellerin found out the next year, he was rewarded with the opportunity to speak with President Obama at a private event in Los Angeles.
Pellerin, who refused to tell the media how he had been invited to shake hands and meet with the President of the United States, used the opportunity to lobby President Obama to not veto a bill that lifted America’s 40-year ban on exporting crude oil. Quoting from The Advertiser:
“I asked him to consider letting the bill that was passed be passed and for him not to veto it,” Pellerin said. “The bill would expand fossil fuel production and have economic benefits for the U.S. and key allies around the world.”
Lifting the 40-year-old ban on oil exports has been a top priority for a coalition of more than a dozen oil companies that have been pressing the issue with Congress for more than a year.
President Obama eventually and reluctantly allowed the ban to expire, but only because Republican lawmakers had tied the provision to a much larger year-end spending bill. Pellerin and his fellow Republicans were successful: While the vast majority of Americans understand the pressing need to reduce dependency on foreign oil, American crude oil producers had snuck in a provision that undermined domestic production for domestic use. By expanding the marketplace globally, American consumers may be forced to pay slightly more for the crude oil processed at home, but a handful of companies could potentially make a fortune.
Pellerin Is a Major Campaign Contributor to His Republican Opponent, Congressman Charles Boustany
Since 2012, Josh Pellerin has been a major donor to Congressman Charles Boustany, pouring in more than $8,600 in the last four years. His most recent donation, for $500, was made on Oct. 20, 2015. At the time, it was widely-known Charles Boustany was eyeing a seat on the U.S. Senate.
Perhaps ironically, because Boustany is now a candidate for U.S. Senate, his federal congressional campaign account was transferred into a newly-created Senate account. According to the Boustany campaign, all donors to his Congressional account were informed of his intention to transfer their funds to his Senate account and all were provided the option to request a refund. No one, including Josh Pellerin, asked for a refund, which means Pellerin is now considered, for the purposes of the FEC, a donor to Boustany for Senate.
Pellerin’s long-standing patronage of Congressman Boustany has had its benefits.
Indeed, Pellerin was not testifying on behalf of Congressman Boustany; he had been invited by the man they both seek to replace in the U.S. Senate, David Vitter.
Pellerin may have donated thousands to Sen. Mary Landrieu, the former Chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, but he apparently wasted little time getting to know the committee’s new Chairwoman, Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski.
Pellerin Allegedly Claims He Is Capable of Spending $5 Million to Self-Finance His Campaign
According to the most recent statewide poll on the race, Pellerin is registering at a paltry 3%, below the margin of error and in dead last. According to multiple sources with knowledge of the campaign, Pellerin has privately claimed he could spend as much as $5 million of his own money on the Senate race. This would certainly help the political neophyte bolster his name recognition, but there are at least three other candidates in the race capable of significant self-financing.
However, Pellerin is likely the only candidate capable of taking out a $50 million equity loan on a vacant tract of property.
This is 312 Opus One in Broussard, an empty residential lot, poised for a multi-million mansion. The lot itself was once valued at $159,000:
No one should fault Pellerin for his success or for his efforts to lobby members of Congress on behalf of his industry, but Pellerin’s sudden conversion to the Democratic Party seems to be cynically calculated and disingenuous.
Less Than Three Months After Donating to Hillary Clinton’s Campaign, Josh Pellerin Gave Republican Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum $1,000… Six Months After Santorum Dropped Out
This is beyond puzzling. Presumably, Rick Santorum needed help retiring his campaign debt, so he turned to Josh Pellerin of Louisiana, a state Santorum had carried only four short years before. Even though Pellerin, a newly anointed Democrat, had already donated the maximum to Sec. Hillary Clinton, he was willing to help former Sen. Santorum with a $1,000 check.
Santorum dropped out of the race before he could even compete in the Louisiana primary.
If Pellerin’s success teaches us anything, it’s that money buys access. Unless and until Josh Pellerin can offer a cogent and convincing argument about why he decided to become a Democrat, after spending his entire life as a Republican businessman, and unless and until he is capable of articulating an authentic and comprehensive argument for why he best represents both the state of Louisiana and the Louisiana Democratic Party, voters should be skeptical of a man who has, thus far, a political track record riddled with cynicism and hypocrisy.
No matter how much money one may possess, you cannot purchase genuineness.