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Stephanie Grace: Super PACS are shaping Louisiana’s governor race

Sen. David Vitter, R-La., watches before an NFL football game between the New Orleans Saints and the Baltimore Ravens in New Orleans, Monday, Nov. 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)

Up in Mount Vernon, Ohio, there’s a guy who’s concerned about Louisiana. Very, very concerned. So concerned that he recently cut a $150,000 check to the Fund for Louisiana’s Future. What Thomas Rastin was really supporting when he made the big donation, of course, wasn’t the state itself but U.S. Sen. David Vitter’s quest to become… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Louisiana lawmakers made the best of a bad situation when it came to Bobby Jindal's last legislative session

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal

Gov. Bobby Jindal has signed his last state budget and issued his final vetoes. His stops back home in Baton Rouge have become even rarer and briefer now that his presidential campaign is, at long last, official. He won’t move his family out of the Governor’s Mansion until January, but as far as state government goes,… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Disastrous St. Bernard Parish President David Peralta 'actively undermining both the dignity and integrity of the office'

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- St. Bernard Parish President David Peralta called a special council meeting for Friday morning to make a request for funds to hire a lawyer and sue the parish council.  The council did not have a quorum so the meeting was adjourned Friday, July 17, 2015 in Chalmette. Peralta walks into a largely empty council chamber before the meeting.

When exactly did St. Bernard Parish government descend into farce? Was it when Parish President David Peralta’s disturbingly messy private life spilled out into public? When his wife accused him of rape and he countered that she’d engaged in bondage voluntarily, that she “enjoyed fantasy rape”? When he insisted that his… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Bobby Jindal talking good game on campaign trail, but his Louisiana record tripping him up

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s editorial board interview at New Hampshire’s Union Leader newspaper last week streamed live on the Internet, but you don’t need to have tuned in to know that it went well. Jindal emerged from the meeting with the influential, conservative paper with not one but two glowing editorials to add… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: In this key northeast state, Bobby Jindal seen as ‘fresh face’ and break from establishment

Republican presidential candidate Gov. Bobby Jindal, R-La., talks with Daniel Siletti as he signs his high school yearbook after taping Pints and Politcs with WKXL at the Barley House restaurant Tuesday, July 7, 2015, in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

New Hampshire is a lovely place to visit in the summer. The landscape is lush, and even on humid days, cool breezes often break up the misery. For Gov. Bobby Jindal, who this week made his second trip here since he formally entered the… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: When it comes to the Confederate flag issue, I’m with Mitt Romney

Associated Press file photo Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Republican presidental candidate

Here’s something I’m not sure I’ve ever heard myself say, at least until about 10 days ago: I’m with Mitt. That’s former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, of course, who came out of retirement after the racially motivated murders at a historically black Charleston church to basically challenge politicians who either supported flying the… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: The unhappy warrior of a lost cause

Gov. Bobby Jindal, a perpetual cellar-dweller in Republican presidential polls, finally managed to best his rivals at something on Friday. The governor was the first GOP candidate to pounce on the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision declaring same-sex marriage legal across the land. Needless to say, Jindal didn’t take the opportunity to congratulate all… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: How Bobby Jindal's camp hopes to overcome low poll rankings, dismal approval ratings on campaign trail

Republican presidential candidate, Lousiana Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks to students and area business leaders at Saint Anselm College Thursday, June 25, 2015, in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

For months now, Gov. Bobby Jindal has been going about the business of planning a presidential campaign, even as he insisted he was still praying over whether he’d actually run. And for just as many months, I’ve been hearing the same question: What on Earth is he thinking? Well, now that Jindal has finally announcedContinue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Bobby Jindal (awkwardly) right about corporate welfare

When it comes to decrying the evils of “corporate welfare,” Gov. Bobby Jindal is the wrong messenger — almost comically so. Before Jindal embraced the cause in his opening address of the just-completed legislative session, the governor was an avid proponent of tax giveaways offered in the name of economic development. According to a Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Away from budget drama, some real bright spots, yes bright spots, from the Legislature

The main event during Louisiana’s recently wrapped-up legislative session, of course, was the budget fight, and the results there were mixed. Lawmakers managed to avoid catastrophic cuts to higher ed and health care, even if they put off the heavy lifting of addressing structural problems until the new governor and Legislature take office… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Bobby Jindal’s SAVE plan merely a scheme

As the clocked ticked down toward the Legislature’s mandatory adjournment Thursday afternoon, state Rep. Chris Broadwater took to the mic and confessed that, no matter what happened during the session’s frantic final hours, he was going to go home embarrassed by it. And really, who could blame him? Broadwater was at the podium to Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Lawmakers support Medicaid deal — sort of

Don’t look now, but the Louisiana Legislature has finally come around and voted for Medicaid expansion. Not literally, of course. This year, just as in legislative sessions past, lawmakers rejected proposals to accept federal money to expand insurance coverage for the poor via President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. So as of today, Louisiana taxpayers… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Louisiana gubernatorial candidate David Vitter a juggernaut, hardliner and ... healer?

Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD -- Senator David Vitter speaks during ceremonies commemorating the 70th anniversary of D-Day Friday, June 6, 2014, at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. Seventeen veterans were presented with the French Legion of Honor for helping liberate France from Nazi rule.  The daylong event featured special exhibits, films, speakers, music and the chance for WWII veterans, now in their 80s and 90s, a change to get together.

Editor’s note: This is part of an occasional series of columns on the 2015 gubernatorial contenders. Read about John Bel Edwards and Jay Dardenne. Next up: Scott Angelle. You could call David Vitter the juggernaut in this year’s gubernatorial race. Vitter, the second-term U.S.… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Reviews are in on Louisiana budget scheme: 'shell game,' 'phantom fee,' 'nonsense on a stick'

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal attends the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in Oklahoma City on Friday, May 22, 2015. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)

Will the Louisiana Legislature vote to impose a fee that nobody is expected to pay? If that sounds like a silly question, well, perhaps that’s because it is. Yet the question is also disturbingly serious, because the answer could well determine whether lawmakers can pass a budget for next year that Gov. Bobby Jindal will… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Hastert’s troubles evoke Katrina memories

I’m guessing most of America had forgotten about Dennis Hastert, the U.S. House speaker-turned-lobbyist who was indicted last week in an alleged $3.5 million cover-up, reportedly involving long-ago sexual abuse. Not New Orleans. Hastert’s eight-year speakership might not have been particularly groundbreaking, his low-key public persona hardly memorable. But around here, mention… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Ironic Bobby Jindal uses Louisiana to defend Rand Paul rant; when was last time he worried about us?

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks during his prayer rally, "The Response", at LSU's Pete Maravich Assembly Center, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, in Baton Rouge.

Did Gov. Bobby Jindal cross a line when he issued a gubernatorial news release claiming that Rand Paul — one of many, many politicians standing between him and the Republican Party’s next presidential nomination — is “unsuited to be Commander-In-Chief” because he blamed Republicans for the rise of Islamic State militants?… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Jindal trying to squeeze in the clown car

My first professional brush with presidential politics came in the year of the seven dwarfs. It was 1987. I was a new college grad who’d landed at CBS News’ election unit just as the 1988 primaries were gearing up. And then, as now, the impending end of a two-term presidency had set up a… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Gov. Bobby Jindal’s 'marriage and conscience' executive order makes him look mean-spirited — and weak

The verdict on Gov. Bobby Jindal’s “marriage and conscience” executive order is in, and it’s a two-parter. Legally speaking, the order — which Jindal issued hours after a state legislative committee had shelved a controversial bill aimed at protecting businesses that refuse to serve same-sex couples — does very little. In terms of… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: St. Bernard Parish President David Peralta indictments now a sad serial affair

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- St. Bernard Parish President David Peralta speaks with media members as he leaves the 19th Judicial District Courthouse on May 6. For the third time in just over a year, Peralta faces a new set of six criminal charges after a state grand jury in East Baton Rouge Parish on Wednesday handed up an indictment against the beleaguered parish leader. Peralta is charged with three counts of perjury and three counts of filing false public documents.

The headline announcing St. Bernard Parish President David Peralta’s latest legal run-in last week read sort of like a punchline. “Peralta indicted” would have been bad enough. “Peralta indicted again” — the actual headline — borders on the comically absurd. If only the circumstances were amusing rather than downright icky.… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Why you should look at Saturday's Orleans Parish election results and feel cheerful

Advocate Photo by VERONICA DOMINACH--  The Rosa F. Keller Library in New Orleans, La. on Monday, April 13, 2015.

Every now and then you’ve got to look at an election’s results and feel cheerful. In Orleans Parish, Saturday was just such a day. People who understand the vital role libraries play, for the community in general and those with limited resources in particular, turned out in force to adopt a 2.5 mill, 25-year… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Technicality could bring suffering to thousands

Let’s talk about what King v. Burwell, the lawsuit seeking to invalidate a key part of the Affordable Care Act, isn’t. It’s not a case about any grand idea. It doesn’t address the proper role of government or some important constitutional principle. It doesn’t attempt to right a historic wrong. It doesn’t do any of the… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Non-candidate Mitch Landrieu's assessment of state as clear, detailed and passionate as anything from the real candidates for governor

Advocate staff file photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu

For a guy who’s not running for governor, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu can give a heck of a stump speech. The headline out of his Monday appearance before the Press Club of Baton Rouge, of course, was Landrieu’s confirmation during a Q&A that he won’t be a… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Ex-district attorney Walter Reed used funds to live the good life, epitomizes ‘corruption’

Walter Reed

“It’s important to remember that campaign funds are not public funds,” the lawyer for disgraced former St. Tammany and Washington Parish District Attorney Walter Reed said after his client was criminally charged last week. Duly noted. Speaking at an unusual press conference after U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite announced that a federal grand… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: 'Religious freedom' bill spurring battle in Louisiana

Most readers of this column probably hadn’t heard of state Rep. Mike Johnson, of Bossier City, until recently, and for good reason. He’s not just in his first term as a legislator. He’s in his third month and, as of last week, participating in his very first session. If it were up to his new peers… Continue reading →

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: Scandal a poster child for misconduct

The U.S. attorney commenting scandal in New Orleans gave us a poster child for appalling behavior. Sal Perricone, the prosecutor whose pseudonymous online posts targeted judges, politicians, fellow lawyers and people under his office’s scrutiny, betrayed the trust of his colleagues and his boss, the previously popular U.S. Attorney Jim Letten. He… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Bobby Jindal vs. David Vitter battle; senator positioning himself to be 'shadow governor' during 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 →