Feds asked to look into super PAC backing Vitter

U.S. Senator David Vitter
U.S. Senator David Vitter

Questions are surfacing about the operations of a super PAC formed by backers of U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La.

Two groups that advocate for campaign finance reform recently asked the Federal Elections Commission to look into the possible solicitation of illegal campaign contributions.

The groups are Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21. The complaint deals with The Fund for Louisiana’s Future, which was formed by Charles Spies, a lawyer from Washington, D.C. The fund is helping Vitter run for governor next year or a re-election bid or both.

Spies deemed the complaint “frivolous” and cast it as coming from “left-wingers” who target conservatives.

The complaint notes the super PAC’s use of the same fundraisers as Vitter’s U.S. Senate campaign and that there’s been no required disclaimer that the fund’s solicitations are not being made by Vitter.

Similar concerns had been raised earlier by Washington, D.C., attorneys who are experts in federal campaign finance laws.

Dardenne speaks out about health care law

Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne got thrown into the Affordable Care Act debate lately as he tried to defend the state’s tourism slogan.

Dardenne’s office filed a lawsuit trying to stop MoveOn.org’s use of “Pick Your Passion” in an ad campaign that criticizes Gov. Bobby Jindal for refusing to expand Medicaid.

It’s also caused folks to ask Dardenne — who is running for governor next year — about his position on the federal health care revamp.

Dardenne’s campaign last week took the unusual step to instigate a news release in which Dardenne called on federal Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Seblius to reveal how many Americans have successfully paid the Affordable Care Act insurance premium and to apologize to some 92,000 Louisianans who have had their insurance plans canceled because of the law.

“While liberal allies of the Administration have plenty to say about how our state should conduct its business, I’d like to know what Secretary Sebelius has to say to the 92,739 Louisianans who have had their coverage canceled because of her health plan,” Dardenne said in the release.

In an interview, Dardenne said the release came about while he was in Washington, D.C., last week for the National Lieutenant Governors Association meeting. “All these questions were coming up,” Dardenne said.

“It was an unusually sharp tone I would not normally take, but there is some serious question about these numbers out there.”

Jindal jokes about Edwards’ Congress race

Gov. Bobby Jindal says he hasn’t made any endorsements in the race for the 6th Congressional District, and former Gov. Edwin W. Edwards hasn’t asked him for one.

Jindal joked during a news conference that he thought the former four-term governor’s entry last week into the race to replace U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy in Washington, D.C., has “got to be good for newspaper sales.”

Cassidy is challenging U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La. Both elections are in November.

When asked seriously to comment on the impact Edwards, who recently was released from federal prison, might have on the state’s reputation, Jindal said, “I wouldn’t bet against Edwin; he’s never lost an election. The reality is the voters will decide who they want representing them in Congress.”

Bill would put limits on booting of cars in N.O.

During debate last week in a Louisiana House committee, state Rep. Terry Landry, D-Lafayette, commented during discussion of a bill that would impose restrictions on the “booting” of vehicles.

The bill is sponsored by state Rep. Austin Badon, D-New Orleans, and much of the talk was about the vehicle disabling devices being put on cars and trucks in New Orleans.

Jindal, White don’t always agree, but that’s OK

State Superintendent of Education John White is an ardent supporter of Common Core, the new academic standards adopted by Louisiana and 44 other states.

Gov. Bobby Jindal, who pushed White for the job, has mixed views of the new standards.

But the governor downplayed any differences in a meeting with reporters last week.

“I think he’s doing a great job as superintendent of education, but that doesn’t mean I’ll always agree with every single thing he does, and I’m sure he doesn’t always agree with every single thing I do, and that’s OK.”

PAR against law that would allow gift-giving

The Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana is warning against adoption of a proposed law that would allow elected officials and public employees to accept gifts.

In a new analysis, PAR “questions the real wisdom” of a proposal that would allow gifts of up to $25 value and an aggregate of gifts from any one person in a calendar year of $75.

“PAR ... sees in it a fundamental reversal from an established ethic of not allowing gifts to a new ethic of endorsing the practice of gift-giving to politicians and government employees.

“The change would contribute to a new culture in which gift-giving to government employees and elected officials becomes a standard expectation,” PAR wrote.

Reasons to think twice about the “gift privilege,” PAR said: “a lot of cool and desirable stuff” can be purchased for $25 in the American retail marketplace, and there might be a temptation to increase the gift limit with inflation.

Jindal makes Gaming Board appointment

Gov. Bobby Jindal appointed former state Commissioner of Administration Dennis Stine, of Sulphur, to the Louisiana Gaming Control Board.

Stine, who also served in the Louisiana House, is the CEO of Stine Lumber Company. He is vice chairman on the Christus Health Board, where he serves on the finance, strategy and investment committees.

Stine will serve as a Gaming Board member with expertise in finance.

The nine-member board serves to regulate public policy of the state’s gambling industry.

Former warden to serve on Board of Pardons

Cornel Hubert, of Baton Rouge, has been named to the state Board of Pardons by Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Hubert serves as a corrections consultant for the American Correctional Association. He is a former warden at Hunt Correctional Center in St. Gabriel.

Hubert joins the five-member board as an appointee chosen from a list submitted by victims’ rights advocacy organizations.

Jindal considers list of lawyers for Ethics Board

Five lawyers’ names have been submitted to Gov. Bobby Jindal for possible appointment to the Louisiana Board of Ethics.

Those nominated are former state legislator and retired Judge Jimmy N. Dimos, of Monroe; Paul M. Lafleur, of Alexandria; Valerie Van Matherne, of Monroe; Mark J. Neal, of Monroe; and J. Morgan Passman, of Alexandria.

The presidents of the state’s private colleges, by law, submitted the names to fill a vacancy on the 11-member Ethics Board created by the resignation of Grove Stafford, of Alexandria.

Jindal appoints seven Ethics Board members, and two each are appointed by the House and Senate. Of Jindal’s appointments, three must be lawyers. Stafford was an attorney, so his replacement must meet the legal requirement.

Constituents to talk with Cassidy about insurance

U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, is meeting 11:30 a.m. Monday at the St. Charles East Regional Library, 160 West Campus, Destrehan, to talk with constituents about flood insurance.

Press Club to discuss Louisiana agriculture

John Westra, economist with the LSU AgCenter, will discuss another record-setting year in 2013 for Louisiana agriculture at the Press Club of Baton Rouge on Monday, 11:30 a.m.

Press Club meets in the Iberville Room at the Belle of Baton Rouge Hotel, 102 France St. Parking is free in the garage off Mayflower Street.

Lunch is $12 for members and $15 for nonmembers.

Phillip Joffrion to address Pachyderms

Phillip Joffrion, state director for Americans for Prosperity’s Louisiana Chapter, will be the speaker for Thursday’s meeting of the Pachyderms of Greater Baton Rouge.

The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Jing Du Chinese & Sushi Buffet, 3132 College Drive, Baton Rouge. Cost for the buffet is $13.

RSVP at (225) 644-5728 or email info@pachydermsofgbr.org.

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