By Marsha Shuler
Capitol news bureau
August 11, 2012
The Louisiana Republican Party has spent close to $100,000 in the last two months to combat recall petitions aimed at Gov. Bobby Jindal, House Speaker Chuck Kleckley and other legislators, according to campaign finance reports.
The GOP has brought in Jindal’s campaign strategy firm OnMessage to help out, paying it $20,000, according to the reports. Jindal’s former chief of staff Timmy Teepell is one of its principals.
The reports filed by Angie Bonvillain, who chairs the Jindal recall effort, and Brenda Romero, who chairs the effort against Kleckley, show little financial activity. The two efforts, combined, showed just over $2,100, mostly the in-kind contributions to set up the www.recallbobbyjindal.com website, purchase yard signs and a newspaper advertisement, according to the reports. There’s one $500 contribution to the recall of Kleckley, R-Lake Charles.
“It’s not about how much money you have. People are upset with the governor and especially Mr. Kleckley for not listening,” said Bonvillain, a Calcasieu Parish teacher who blames them for undermining public education with newly passed private school voucher and teacher tenure laws.
The recently filed reports provide the first glimpse of financing of the teacher-driven recall drives. Besides Jindal and Kleckley, three other Republican state representatives are recall targets: Kevin Pearson and Greg Cromer, both of Slidell, and Raymond Garofalo, of Chalmette.
Recall organizers have six months from the time they start to submit the signatures of at least one-third of the registered voters in an election district.
For Jindal, it is one-third of Louisiana’s 2.88 million registered voters or about 965,000 signatures. For Kleckley, it is one-third of the registered in his House district, which is roughly 9,000 registered voters.
State GOP executive director Jason Doré filed a complaint with state campaign finance officials when the recall campaigns did not file the documents on time.
“It’s two months late,” said Doré of the reports. “We are anxious to see their 100-day report in a couple of weeks. There’s definitely some things that have not appeared in that report that hopefully they will disclose.”
Doré said the party is keeping its options open on pressing a public records request on Bonvillain and Romero, another Lake Charles teacher, for copies of signed recall petitions.
An attorney for Bonvillain and Romero argued that the disclosure is not required by state law until petitions are filed for verification.
Bonvillain said it was an attempt to intimidate potential signers.
Doré said the current recall is the fifth one involving Jindal. “They could be sitting on all these signatures and reusing them in theory,” he said.
More than half of the Republican spending to combat recall efforts has gone to support Kleckley: $51,710 in May and June, which includes television ads. Doré said the party is doing “grassroots” activity in Cromer, Pearson and Garofalo’s districts that include phone banks and yard signs of support.
Kleckley said he’s not concerned about the movement. “I’ll stand on my record of public service,” he said. He said he has not seen much activity recently in his district. “But I’ve been so deep in these Medicaid cuts, also the (U.S.) Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act. I’ve been focusing on that,” he said.
Bonvillain said there’s been no stop in the recall efforts on Kleckley and Jindal. “We are very quietly getting the signatures we need,” she said.