Super PAC gets Vitter donation

The independent super PAC linked to U.S. Sen. David Vitter’s bid for Louisiana governor picked up a new big contributor: Vitter’s U.S. Senate war chest.

David Vitter for U.S. Senate gave the Vitter-friendly Fund for Louisiana’s Future a contribution of $100,000 on Feb. 14, according to a filing with the Federal Elections Commission. Vitter is sitting on more than $1 million in his U.S. Senate account.

Vitter announced his run for governor in late January.

“Through a super PAC and some creative lawyering, Vitter and his allies appear to have found a way to redirect all of that money to support his gubernatorial campaign,” the National Journal wrote. “And in doing so, they’ve pioneered a new method for politicians nationwide to get around old prohibitions on spending federal money on state races and vice versa.”

Super PACs, political action committees, can accept unlimited campaign contributions as long as they operate independent of the candidates they support.

The Fund for Louisiana’s Future successfully challenged in court the constitutionality of a Louisiana law that limits political committee contributions to $100,000 per four-year election cycle. The federal court decision opens the door for unlimited contributions in Louisiana elections as the super PACs stay independent of candidates.

The fund’s organizer is Charlie Spiers, who has worked as an attorney for Vitter and whose law firm still does work for Vitter. Two of the people paid to raise money for the super PAC are also paid by Vitter’s campaign operations to raise money for him. One has raised money for other Vitter-organized political committees.

Spies insists the fund’s spending decisions will be made independent of Vitter and his campaign.

“Sen. Vitter has and will follow every aspect of campaign finance law,” Vitter press secretary Luke Bolar said in an email statement.

Vitter has contributed “to several conservative groups,” including the National Republican Senatorial Committee and Republican senate candidates, Bolar said.

No ethics exception for small-town leaders

State Sen. Blade Morrish started out seeking an ethics law exception to allow officials of small municipalities to do business with their municipality.

Current law prohibits the business dealing. But Morrish wanted to permit the practice by those serving municipalities with populations of 5,000 or less.

But in the House, his legislation picked up a hitchhiker, sponsored by state Rep. Brett Geymann, adding a whole new dimension to the bill.

Geymann’s change targeted Board of Elementary and Secondary Education members, their kinfolk and any legal entity in which they hold a substantial economic interest. The amendment would ban their bidding on or entering into contracts, subcontracts or other transactions with BESE and the Department of Education.

The legislation ended up in a conference committee where the BESE amendment got stripped.

“Why did they take that off?” asked Geymann, R-Lake Charles.

State Rep. Tim Burns, R-Mandeville, said he was “not privy to” the reason as he asked the House to concur with the change.

“So we don’t have any ethics for BESE members right now,” Geymann responded.

Without the BESE restrictions, the House overwhelmingly killed the Senate measure — ending Morrish’s hope of an ethics exception for small-town officials.

Former Pa. governor to address La. Dems

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell will be the keynote speaker for the Louisiana Democratic Party’s 2014 major fundraising event Aug. 9.

The Jefferson-Jackson Dinner will be at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans.

Rendell is a former Democratic National Committee chairman and is an MSNBC contributor. He is co-chairman of Building America’s Future, an organization that focuses on rebuilding and reinvesting in infrastructure.

Rendell served two terms as governor of Pennsylvania from 2003 to 2011. He also served as mayor of Philadelphia from 1992 to 2000 and as the city’s district attorney from 1978 to 1985.

Louisiana Democratic Party Chairwoman state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson said Rendell’s leadership on issues such as infrastructure and energy “makes him a perfect fit for this event, which is focused on getting our grass-roots activists and volunteers fired up and ready to help re-elect (U.S.) Sen. Mary Landrieu and Congressman Cedric Richmond.”

LSU research leader to speak at Press Club

K.T. Valsaraj, LSU vice chancellor for research and development, will be the speaker for Monday’s meeting of the Press Club of Baton Rouge.

Valsaraj will discuss LSU’s strategic approach to securing funding for its world-class research.

The 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, which is served at 11:30 a.m., is $12 for members and $15 for nonmembers.

The public is invited, but only members of the Press Club and the news media are allowed to ask questions.

6 legislators to discuss session on local show

Six south Louisiana legislators will join “Louisiana: The State We’re In” on Friday for a discussion of the recently ended 2014 Louisiana legislative session.

The show will air at 7 p.m. on Louisiana Public Broadcasting and WLAE-TV 32 in New Orleans. It will also air at 4:30 p.m. June 15 on LPB.

“The State We’re In” anchor Charlie Whinham discusses the session with state Sen. Conrad Appel, R-Metairie, and state Reps. Vincent Pierre, D-Lafayette, Karen St. Germain, D-Pierre Part, Dee Richard, No Party-Thibodaux, Patricia Smith, D-Baton Rouge, and Terry Landry, D-New Iberia.

The program can be viewed online on the LPB website at lpb.org/programs along with additional video from the interviews.