Filings show term-limited Jindal hired consultants

Advocate staff photo by Travis Spradling.        Photo shot on 4/7/2011        Slug--REDISTRICT 4-8      Trax  #  00025197c   Sen. Mike Walsworth, R-West Monroe after shutdown of Senate thursday and postponement of action on redistricting bills.
Advocate staff photo by Travis Spradling. Photo shot on 4/7/2011 Slug--REDISTRICT 4-8 Trax # 00025197c Sen. Mike Walsworth, R-West Monroe after shutdown of Senate thursday and postponement of action on redistricting bills.

For a governor barred by term limits from running again in two years, Gov. Bobby Jindal has a lot of political expenses.

Jindal’s campaign paid $716,000 in the past two years to political consultants, according to filings with the Louisiana Board of Ethics. The latest report — released last week details campaign contributions and expenses in 2013 — just popped up on the board’s website.

The governor hired Louisiana-based consultants such as Roy Fletcher and Pat Bergeron. Jindal also went outside Louisiana in search of advice. He turned to Aduston Consulting for political strategy and Grassroots Targeting for Web development.

Aduston has a Washington, D.C., address. Grassroots works out of Virginia and helps Republicans “target the right person with the right message,” according to its website.

Jindal’s favorite adviser appears to be OnMessage — a political firm that counts former Jindal Chief of Staff Timmy Teepell among its partners. OnMessage received $796,699.29 from the governor’s campaign in 2012 and 2013 for a variety of tasks, including political strategy, media production and polling.

Here’s the question: Why does Jindal need so much advice without a re-election on the table? He can’t run again in 2015 because of term limits.

Yet Jindal continues to collect campaign contributions. He took in $223,078.07 in 2013, which came in handy for out-of-state travel expenses. Airline tickets alone cost the governor’s campaign nearly $150,000 over the last two years.

Jindal’s campaign expenses totaled $1.9 million in 2013.

Teepell said the consultants “provide general consulting on issues of the day.” He said they are not advising the governor on a possible White House run.

Donna Brazile on BR panel discussion

Donna Brazile, a Louisiana native who was former Vice President Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign manager, was on a panel discussion Friday at Baton Rouge Community College.

During a question-and-answer session, a member of the audience asked her about dwindling interest in some states during campaigns, usually because political strategy calls for candidates to focus on electoral-rich states.

Brazile said she has noticed the trend.

“I don’t win every battle,” she said. “I lost a battle to get Al Gore to invest in Tennessee.”

Gore failed to carry his home state in the 2000 election, which former President George W. Bush won narrowly.

Senators question voucher audit

Two members of the Legislative Audit Advisory Council last week questioned the scope of Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera’s December audit of Louisiana’s voucher program.

Purpera’s report noted that, under state law, public schools that accept voucher students have to be rated A or B by the state but no such rule applies to private schools, which account for more than 99 percent of those taking part.

The audit said the Legislature “may wish to consider revising state laws to include the requirement that nonpublic schools seeking to participate in the scholarship program are academically acceptable.”

Two senators questioned whether that recommendation crossed the line of what the audits are for, which is compliance with the law.

State Sen. Mike Walsworth, R-Monroe, chairman of the panel, said whether the state should impose such requirements on private schools is up to the Legislature.

“We have decided not to go down that road,” Walsworth told Purpera.

State Sen. Robert Adley, R-Benton, made the same point.

Adley said the suggestion in the report resembles policy, rather than ensuring adherence to the law. Rules on what nonprivate schools have to comply with are up to the House and Senate, he said.

Possible governor run for Jim Bernhard?

It wouldn’t be a governor’s race without speculation about Baton Rouge businessman Jim Bernhard using his ample financial resources to mount a campaign.

With the 2015 election just a year away, the buzz is starting again, with talk of Bernhard circling the state and telling people he is running for governor. Bernhard, a Democrat, even supposedly drove to former Gov. Kathleen Blanco’s house in Lafayette and told her that he was running.

Bernhard didn’t return a call. Blanco, the state’s last Democratic governor, didn’t respond to a request for comment either.

However, longtime political consultant Roy Fletcher said the rumors seem more likely to be true than they did in the past.

State Rep. John Bel Edwards, D-Amite, said Bernhard told him that he is considering a run. “He and I have talked several times, and he told me he’s certainly considering it,” Edwards said.

Edwards is running for governor. Republicans U.S. Sen. David Vitter and Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne also are running.

“It doesn’t change my plans at all. It just doesn’t. I’m in the race,” Edwards said.

Group spends $1.8M on anti-Landrieu ads

Americans for Prosperity recently has spent about $1.8 million on television commercials in south Louisiana’s three largest cities criticizing U.S. Mary Landrieu and the federal Affordable Care Act.

The suburban Washington, D.C., group, supported by the Koch Brothers, has targeted incumbent Democratic senators in Republican-leaning states. The Washington Post last week reported that AFP could spend as much as $200 million this cycle, “so their ads could help decide who controls the Senate in 2015.”

The Post and other national media have questioned the veracity of the commercials that focus on wrenching stories of people who have lost their insurance coverage or saw their premiums soar.

The commercials, in which actors are hired to criticize Obamacare and Landrieu, are being run in seven cities across Louisiana. The ads correspond with an effort by the Americans for Prosperity to get all 144 state senators and representatives to sign a pledge not to expand Medicaid coverage.

Baton Rouge-area broadcast and cable television stations report AFP spent nearly $800,000 to air the commercials, about $650,000 in New Orleans, and about $400,000 in Lafayette, according to disclosures released by the Louisiana Democratic Party.

Landrieu faces three Republican challengers in her re-election race.

Louisiana retirement board elects leaders

Louisiana State Employees’ Retirement System Board of Trustees unanimously elected Shannon Templet as its chairwoman and Kathy Singleton as vice chairwoman.

Templet is director of the state Department of Civil Service, and Singleton is retired from the state Department of Social Services.

The 13-member policy-making board has fiduciary oversight over LASERS.

LASERS provides a defined benefit pension plan that covers approximately 150,000 members. LASERS pays more than $1 billion in annual benefits to retirees and their beneficiaries.

Panel to discuss incarceration

The Micah Project panel on Monday will discuss strategies that address incarceration. One in seven African-American males in New Orleans are incarcerated, on parole or on probation.

The panel includes 5th Circuit Court of Appeal Judge Fredericka Wicker, member of the Louisiana Sentencing Commission; Kevin Kane, president of the Pelican Institute for Public Policy; Marjorie Esman, executive director for the ACLU of Louisiana; Pres Kabacoff, chief executive officer of HRI Properties; and Rabbi Ethan Linden, of the Congregation Shir Chadash.

The seminar begins at 7 p.m. at the Congregation Shir Chadash, 3737 W. Esplanade Ave., Metairie.

Lawmakers to hold community meeting

State Sen. Sharon Weston Broome, D-Baton Rouge, and state Rep. Regina A. Barrow, D-Baton Rouge, are holding a community meeting at the LSU Medical Clinic, 5445 Airline Highway, Baton Rouge, to discuss issues in the upcoming legislative session.

The meeting begins Tuesday at 4 p.m. to help constituents sign up for insurance coverage. The community meeting begins at 6 p.m.

Compiled by The Advocate Capitol news bureau. Contact email address is cnb@theadvocate.com.