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Stephanie Grace: There’s 'something horrifyingly mundane' about the Darren Sharper case

Former NFL safety Darren Sharper, right, appears in Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday, March 23, 2015. At left is his attorney, Lisa Wayne. Sharper pleaded no contest Monday in Los Angeles to charges of drugging and raping two women in the second of s

The Darren Sharper story is undeniably stunning. It stars a wealthy, once-admired football hero with movie-star looks who led a double life as a serial rapist. It unfolded in glamorous settings and at exclusive parties, in New Orleans, Los Angeles, Miami Beach and the Phoenix area. It features a supporting cast of celebrity enablers and skittish, even… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Why unlikely allies like David Vitter, John Kennedy, Charles Boustany forming in Louisiana political field

FILE - In this Oct. 13, 2014 file photo, U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., speaks at a campaign stop for Senate candidate, Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La., at VFW Post 5951 in Bossier City, La. Vitter, the new chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship, has big issues on his agenda, but hell have to fit that work in with a high-profile gubernatorial campaign in his home state. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

Louisiana politics is starting to feel like a game of dominoes lately. We’ve got a governor who’s presumably running for president, a senator who’s definitely running for governor and, now, the beginnings of a race for senator. That’s one way to read a couple of otherwise unrelated recent developments. One is that, after raising… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Bobby Jindal vs. David Vitter battle; senator positioning himself to be 'shadow governor' in upcoming session

U.S. Sen. David Vitter; Gov. Bobby Jindal

Gov. Bobby Jindal hasn’t formally announced it yet, but he’s clearly in campaign mode. His appearance last week at a Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Good Friday breakfast is just the latest signal that he’s plotting a presidential run. U.S. Sen. David Vitter, meanwhile, is spending less time in Washington and more in Louisiana as he… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Will Louisiana catch up on same-sex marriage?

Some of the hundreds of people who gathered outside the Indiana Statehouse on Saturday, March 28, 2015, for a rally against legislation signed Thursday by Gov. Mike Pence stand on the Statehouse's south steps during the 2-hour-long rally. The law's opponents say it could sanction discrimination against gay people. The law's supporters contend the discrimination claims are overblown and insist it will keep the government from compelling people to provide services they find objectionable on religious grounds. . (AP Photo/Rick Callahan)

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, reluctantly and belatedly, gets it. After flailing around for a few days as he tried to quell the furor over his state’s new religious freedom law, Pence finally asked his legislature to go back and clean up the mess. “As I said last week, had this law been about legalizing… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Louisiana justice system subject to human flaws

Louisiana’s compensation fund for wrongfully convicted defendants would seem to be tailor-made for tragic situations like Glenn Ford’s. Ford endured more than three decades on death row at Angola for a deadly armed robbery that prosecutors now concede he didn’t commit. The fund provides for a relatively modest maximum settlement of $250,000, or $25,000… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Louisiana lawmakers appear to be reaching their limits with Gov. Bobby Jindal

Advocate staff file photo by BILL FEIG -- Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Remember all those lessons from grade school about the separation of powers? You know, the ones about how the executive and legislative branches of government are supposed to be independent and co-equal, part of a system of checks and balances designed to make sure that no one branch amasses too much control?… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Louisiana's GOP governor hopefuls are showing up in unexpected places ... to court Democrats

Pictured from left, David Vitter, Jay Dardenne, Scott Angelle and John Bel Edwards

If Louisiana had a typical party primary system, Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Bel Edwards would be talking to Democrats right now, and Republicans David Vitter, Scott Angelle and Jay Dardenne would be making their case to GOP voters. That’s not the way things work in the open primary system, of course. One dynamic is that, while Democrats… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Bobby Jindal losing his touch, has gone ‘from rising star to somewhat pathetic figure’

Advocate staff photo by ADAM LAU -- Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal speaks after being sworn in during inauguration at the Old State Capitol in Baton Rouge on Monday, Jan. 9, 2012.

After reading Sunday’s front-page Washington Post profile of Gov. Bobby Jindal, I’m almost tempted to feel sorry for the guy. Okay, not really. Jindal’s got nobody but himself to blame for his dreadful poll ratings at home and his low ranking in — and sometimes absence from — presidential surveys. He’s put his national ambitions… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Lawmakers rooting against their constituents

Is it too much to ask that Louisiana’s officials in Washington not root against their own constituents? Because that, at bottom, is what several members of the state’s congressional delegation boasted of doing when they cheered on a legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act provision that allows millions of Americans — including lots of Louisianans —… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Bobby Jindal's budget plan concocted, contorted to allow him tax-hike deniability

Ever since Gov. Bobby Jindal issued his proposed $24.6 billion state budget last week, the phrase “money laundering” has been running through my head. That’s not quite the right term, and what Jindal proposes is not illegal. But is there such a thing as label laundering? If so, that’s one way to characterize the… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: David Vitter is 'absolutely a problem' for Bobby Jindal's presidential campaign, and here's why

U.S. Sen. David Vitter; Gov. Bobby Jindal

Pretty much everyone who follows Louisiana politics knows that the state’s two leading officials, Gov. Bobby Jindal and U.S. Sen. David Vitter, aren’t allies. They’re not even “frenemies,” two people who don’t like each other but manage to work together toward common goals. Nope. The only apparent connections between these two are the… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Petal an example of why Louisiana film tax credits need better monitoring

If Malcolm Petal was a character in some big-budget caper film — perhaps even one of the numerous movies shot in Louisiana since the state instituted its generous production tax credit — he might well be the protagonist. Movies are big on anti-heroes these days, and Petal, a lawyer-turned-convicted-crook who admitted to ripping off the film… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Jindal seems like he’s just passing through, but it didn’t always seem that way

Governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA), a potential 2016 GOP candidate, speaks at a APPs State luncheon discussion on Common Core at the Mayflower Hotel on Feb. 5, 2015 in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

Not long ago, prompted by a call from a national political reporter seeking to understand likely presidential candidate Gov. Bobby Jindal’s rise in Louisiana, I pulled out an old profile I wrote during his first campaign. And I have to confess that reading it again, after all these years and with so much water under the bridge, was… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Tom Benson, Brian Williams, Bobby Jindal, the Landrieus ... New Orleans' Mardi Gras floats 'gave everyone an awful lot to laugh at'

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON -- The Krewe of Muses' "spin the bottle" float skewers the Benson family inheritance scandal in New Orleans, La., on Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015.

What’s that they say? If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry? Well, Louisiana in general, and New Orleans in particular, have experienced so much angst since last Mardi Gras that this year’s Carnival floats gave everyone an awful lot to laugh at. Always a fascinating measure of the collective zeitgeist, the 2015 satire season hit all the… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Like George Costanza, Jindal finds his worlds colliding

“It’s just common sense,” a supremely exasperated George Costanza insisted during a classic episode of the old “Seinfeld” sitcom, after learning that his girlfriend Susan has started hanging out with his platonic pal Elaine. “Everybody knows you gotta keep your worlds apart.” When worlds collide, the punchline goes, “it blows… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Cassidy defending a Landrieu legacy

How’s this for a re-election slogan? “Bill Cassidy, protecting Mary Landrieu’s legacy since 2015.” Sorry folks, couldn’t resist. The irony is simply too delicious. How else to characterize Louisiana’s newly elected Republican senator, the very guy who won by painting the Democratic incumbent as a patsy for President Barack Obama, fiercely defending his ousted… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: David Duke once again shows he’s ‘a petulant, resentful, racist, anti-Semitic, self-regarding and seriously thin-skinned low-life’

U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, left, and David Duke

So now David Duke is threatening to run against Steve Scalise. Talk about ungrateful. If anything, the former state representative, Ku Klux Klan leader, and way-too-close-for-comfort gubernatorial candidate should be thanking the Metairie congressman for inadvertently shining the spotlight back in his direction. Duke’s been old news for more than a decade now,… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: State's budget problems can't wait for Jindal to leave

Advocate staff file photo by BILL FEIG -- Aerial of the new State Capitol building and grounds.

In speaking to lawmakers over the last couple of years, I’ve heard a common refrain from both House and Senate members, Republicans and Democrats: Just wait until Gov. Bobby Jindal leaves office. Then — finally, they say — they’ll be able to stop factoring Jindal’s national ambitions into… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Bobby Jindal can't do a thing about same-sex marriage possibly becoming law; that's the way it should be

Associated Press file photo by JONATHAN BACHMAN -- Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

If the U.S. Supreme Court wraps up this year’s session by declaring same-sex marriage a constitutional right — a scenario far more probable than not, most knowledgeable observers predict — tourism officials in New Orleans will be ready. According to a recent Gambit story, the New Orleans Tourism and Marketing… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: The bigger Bobby Jindal tries to go, the smaller he looks in quest to get attention he craves

Gov. Bobby Jindal may have billed his European swing as an economic development mission on behalf of Louisiana, but his primary agenda has been obvious to anyone who’s turned on a television set, logged onto the Internet or followed his PR operation via email or social media. Far more than state business, Jindal’s trip was all… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Here's the gameplan Jay Dardenne, Scott Angelle, John Bel Edwards might use against David Vitter in race for Louisiana governor

When U.S. Sen. David Vitter used the opening forum of the 2015 gubernatorial campaign season to tout his leadership on a bipartisan congressional highway bill and vow to press ahead on a follow-up, one of his rivals seized on the opening. “This is precisely why we want to you stay,” Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne quipped,… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Even if Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal performs well in Iowa, here's the downside

FILE - In this Oct. 16, 2014 file photo, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, R-La. speaks in New York. The presidential contest that's starting to take shape is exposing divisions among likely Republican candidates on the nation's role in global affairs. Among those outlining foreign policy this week: Bush, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Bobby Jindal, as well as the party's 2008 presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s putting together all the pieces of a presidential campaign. He’s got a national consulting team, a think tank and a policy record that’s been carefully curated to appeal to Republican primary voters. He’s a regular on the political talk show circuit, and he’s about to check off another box when he heads to… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: How U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise's relationship-building talents got him into David Duke-led white nationalist event mess, but might save him too

Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., arrives for a meeting of the House Republican Conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 18, 2014. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise cultivates relationships. That’s not news to people here in Louisiana, who’ve watched the gregarious former state representative rise to one of Congress’ top posts in remarkably short order, although the rest of the country seems to be just figuring it out. It’s an instinct that’s helped him become such a successful politician.… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Scalise’s pitch to Duke supporters seems plausible

This is what I remember about the first time I met Steve Scalise nearly 20 years ago: He told me he was like David Duke without the baggage. I was a new reporter covering Jefferson Parish, and Scalise, now the majority whip in the U.S. House of Representatives, was just starting out in the Louisiana Legislature (I’m… Continue reading →