Money flows in La. 3rd Disrict race
The Washington, D.C.-based super PAC, FreedomWorks for America, remains a thorn in the side of U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, in his Nov. 6 re-election bid.
The “super” political action committee is working in southern Louisiana on behalf of U.S. Rep. Jeff Landry, R-New Iberia, and can spend unlimited amounts of money supporting Landry as long as it does not coordinate with his campaign.
FreedomWorks was founded by former U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, and the organization has, in recent years, helped to channel the national tea party movement.
Thus far, the super PAC has spent $317,000 on the 3rd congressional district race in southwestern Louisiana – more than on any other U.S. House race nationally – and Boustany apparently had enough when FreedomWorks’ super PAC teamed up with the Lafayette tea party group to produce a pamphlet that falsified Boustany’s record on taxes.
The pamphlet was called an inadvertent error and retracted. But Boustany was not very forgiving.
“There is no reason a third-party, Washington, D.C. special interest group should be coming to our communities in South Louisiana, spreading lies and telling our neighbors how to vote,” Boustany said in a prepared statement this past week. “FreedomWorks and its leadership, beginning with Dick Armey, epitomize the ultimate fat-cat Washington insiders.”
The issue though is that Boustany also has significant support coming from a “third-party, Washington, D.C. special interest group.”
The American Hospital Association PAC has spent more than $200,000 on media and advertisements supporting Boustany, who is a former surgeon, during this election cycle, according to Federal Election Commission filings. Nationally, the hospital PAC is spending heavily on nine congressional races – for six Republicans and three Democrats.
The Landry camp is quick to counter that the American Hospital Association endorsed President Barack Obama’s health care law. A quick argument is that, under Obama’s health care law, hospitals could be less responsible for covering the costs of uninsured patients visiting emergency rooms.
That issue coincides with Landry’s television commercials attacking Boustany for supporting “80 percent” of “Obamacare.”
The claim dates back to an interview Boustany did with MSNBC before the president’s Affordable Care Act was voted on. At the time, Boustany said Republicans and Democrats agreed with close to 80 percent of what was on the table, but not any specific legislation. Boustany has said he meant general issues such as preventive care and insuring more people.
Boustany has given Republican opposition speeches against “Obamacare” and he has called for its full repeal since it became law. Boustany also was recently named co-chairman of the Healthcare Professionals for Romney Coalition supporting GOP nominee Mitt Romney.
Not even counting the outside spending of FreedomWorks and the American Hospital Association PAC, Boustany and Landry have combined to spend more than $3 million on their campaigns — $2.1 million by Boustany and $1 million by Landry – as of the end of September, according to FEC records.
Boustany has raised more than $2.8 million in campaign funds, compared to a still massive $1.74 million received by Landry.
When it comes to individual contributors who can give up to $2,500 each, Boustany has a slight edge taking in $1.6 million compared to Landry’s $1.5 million as of the end of September, according to the FEC.
Where Boustany pulls away is from contributions from PACs – just not the “super” variety. Boustany has $1.2 million from PACs, versus $232,000 for Landry. PACs can make up to $5,000 contributions at a time.
The three biggest industries Boustany is receiving campaign funds from are health professionals, insurance and the oil-and-gas industries. Landry’s biggest backers are the marine transportation and oil-and-gas industries, according to the Center for Responsive Politics’ OpenSecrets.org.
The bottom line is it’s good to have friends with money, whether they are located in Washington or elsewhere.
As for the intervention of super PACs in southwestern Louisiana, point the blame at the U.S. Supreme Court and the 2010 Citizens United v. FEC decision that allows the PACs to spend limitlessly for candidates as long as they act independently from the campaigns.
Jordan Blum is chief of The Advocate Washington bureau. His email is email@example.com.