Louisiana Politics: Pelican Institute invests in ad campaign
The Pelican Institute for Public Policy launched a six-figure advertising campaign last week to “further educate citizens, elected leaders and candidates for office about its comprehensive policy reform effort.”
It’s called “A Jobs and Opportunity Agenda for Louisiana.”
Since fall 2018, Pelican officials say more than $1 million in time, research and materials have gone into developing the many components comprising the agenda, which includes 202 pages of research featuring road maps to comprehensive, free-market reforms to bring jobs and opportunity back to Louisiana.
The detailed platform seeks “reforms to nearly every area of Louisiana public policy, including overhauling the state’s legal system, tax code, budgeting process, criminal justice system, education system and Medicaid program, among others.”
Analysis: More money,
Consider, if you will, the following lede from AP reporter Melinda Deslatte: “Louisiana will close the books on the last budget year with a surplus around $300 million, the third year in a row the state has taken in more money than it immediately spent, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Thursday.”
Politically, the news is significant on two fronts. For starters, it will probably be the first task of the next Legislature to decide how to spend this loot, during the 2020 regular session.
Secondly, this will undoubtedly come back to haunt Edwards in his re-election campaign. And he already knows it, for the governor has spent considerable time trying to tell voters that surpluses are a good thing.
His opponents, on the other hand, have taken care to accuse the governor of supporting too many tax increases, which have brought in too much tax revenue.
So, in the end, how the administration counted its dollars may count for something this election cycle.
The governor has resigned!
It has been about 80 years since Louisiana’s last gubernatorial resignation. Wanna guess who it was?
Richard W. Leche had been a loyal lieutenant of Huey Long. Rewarded with a plum judgeship in New Orleans, Leche had a reputation as a affable guy who was well liked throughout the Long machine.
After the Kingfish’s assassination, the machine was split over who to field as their candidate in the 1936 gubernatorial election. After tense negotiations, they settled on Leche as a compromise, throwing Huey’s brother, Earl, on the ticket as their candidate for lieutenant governor.
Once he was firmly ensconced in the Governor’s Mansion, Leche and his cronies started divvying up the perks of power, using state government to cater to their personal demands.
With the treasury flush with oil dollars and federal money flowing in at a staggering rate, rampant corruption soon became blatant.
It was Leche who famously uttered, “When I took the oath as governor, I didn’t take any vows of poverty.”
Observing all of this was former Gov. Jimmy Noe. According to historian Jack McGuire, Noe was bitter at having been pushed out of office by Leche and began collecting information about the various misdeeds of the governor and his friends.
Armed with these reports, Noe fed the information to journalists.
Leche withdrew from his public duties, hiding out at his private estate on Bayou Lacombe in St. Tammany Parish.
On June 21, 1939, the governor summoned reporters to the Mansion for a bedside press conference to announce that, “on the advice of his doctors,” he would be resigning for health reasons.
On the day before Long was scheduled to take the oath of office, Leche summoned reporters to the Governor’s Mansion again and announced that he was ordering the arrest of LSU President James Monroe Smith, who had confessed to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the university’s endowment.
Smith had fled Baton Rouge and was a fugitive-at- large being actively hunted by the State Police. The governor pledged to delay his resignation until the LSU matter was resolved.
According to Harnett Kane’s Louisiana Hayride, machine loyalists, lawmakers and state political heavyweights filtered in and out of closed door meetings at the Governor’s Mansion that night.
The following morning, Leche announced that he would, in fact, resign immediately. That afternoon, Earl K. Long was sworn in as Louisiana’s 45th governor.
Within a year, Richard Leche would be an inmate in a federal prison.
They said it
“This is just Louisiana politics at its worst.” —Ed Chervenak, a professor of political science at the University of New Orleans, on a KSLA-TV report that lawmakers have been spending campaign money on high-end lease vehicles
“It does not violate the spirit of the law, No.1. The law is very, very clear. You can’t buy a car anymore, and we just lease it.” —Sen. Greg Tarver, offering his own defense, on KSLA- TV
For more Louisiana political news, visit www.LaPolitics.com or follow Alford on Twitter via @LaPoliticsNow.