Washington Briefs: BR native gets watchdog job

Washington Bureau writer Jordan Blum
Washington Bureau writer Jordan Blum

Baton Rouge native Bradley Beychok is moving up in the world of Washington politics with his new promotion to president of the liberal watchdog group, Media Matters for America.

Beychok previously moved to Washington to serve as the campaign director for the Democratic Party-aligned American Bridge 21st Century Super PAC. After the November elections, he moved to the nonprofit Media Matters as its executive vice president.

Beychok said his new job puts him in the position of fighting the daily influx of “conservative misinformation.”

“A political campaign is day-to-day, hand-to-hand combat and then November or election time comes around and it ends,” Beychok said. “You kind of catch the bug, and that happened to me.”

He said the focus rests on fighting the “misinformation” that bleeds into the media, whether it is through Fox News, Glenn Beck, a plethora of conservative websites and blogs, or the mainstream media.

“There’s a wealth of material,” Beychok said. “There’s unlimited opportunities and there’s unlimited material on both sides.”

Beychok worked his way up in Louisiana heading up the successful congressional campaigns of former U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon, D-Napoleonville. But after Melancon challenged Sen. David Vitter, R-La., and lost, Beychok eventually made his way to Washington.

Landrieu hears concerns

Three members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights wrote to Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and other members of Congress to share concerns about the proposed immigration revamp by a “Gang of Eight” of four Republican and four Democratic U.S. senators.

Commissioners Abigail Thernstrom, Peter Kirsanow and Gail Heriot – a minority of the commission’s eight members – wrote that allowing more illegal immigrants a pathway to citizenship could have a negative impact on the already high unemployment rates of blacks.

“Illegal immigration has a disparate impact on African-American men because these men are disproportionately represented in the low-skilled labor force,” they wrote.

“Immigration, both legal and illegal, resulted in a disproportionately large increase in the number of high school dropouts in the labor pool. This caused a drop in wages among the poorest and least-educated members of the workforce. As discussed … these people are disproportionately likely to be African-American men,” the letter added.

The immigration reform plan involves cracking down on Mexican border security, offering a path to citizenship after more than 10 years and expanding guest worker programs in areas ranging from the sciences to agriculture.

Dietzel to run for congress

With Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, running for the Senate next year, the field of people vying to replace him in the U.S. House is continuing to grow.

Local business owner Paul Dietzel II, who is the grandson of legendary former LSU football coach Paul Dietzel, is the first Republican to formally declare for the race.

Dietzel, 27, touts himself as a conservative, anti-abortion supporter of the Second Amendment. He is the founder and CEO of Baton Rouge-based software company Anedot, which focuses on helping charities and political candidates streamline receiving donations online.

“Higher taxes and mandates from Washington are forcing companies to cut worker hours and preventing them from hiring new workers,” Dietzel said in his announcement. “Our country needs new leadership and new ideas, and I’m running for Congress to bring that fresh perspective we need.”

Although Dietzel is a political newcomer, he did lose a controversial election for LSU student body president in 2007. He also served as LSU College Republican president.

Dietzel isn’t the first candidate to declare overall though. Democrats Quentin Anderson, of Baton Rouge, and Richard Lieberman, of LaPlace, have officially announced their candidacies through the Federal Election Commission. But neither of them had any fundraising to announce as of the end of March.

But plenty of other elected officials in the Baton Rouge region have already said they are strongly considering running for the seat.

State Sen. Dan Claitor, and state Reps. Hunter Greene, Steve Carter and Erich Ponti, all Baton Rouge Republicans, are among several who are openly expressing interest and seeking support. Democratic Rep. Ted James of Baton Rouge also is weighing entering.

Baton Rouge Metro Councilman Ryan Heck, who was elected while running unopposed last year, also is considering running.

Other people like state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education President Chas Roemer, of Baton Rouge, and former Congressman Jeff Landry, R-New Iberia, who would have to move into the district, also could end up running.

Compiled by Jordan Blum, chief of The Advocate Washington bureau. His email is jblum@theadvocate.com.