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Games Politicians Play

In politics, what you do today may come back to haunt you tomorrow.  Even what you did years ago.  Such is the case with Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, who is running for the Louisiana U.S. Senate  seat in 2014.

Cassidy is challenging Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, who is seeking a fourth six-year term.  But he is being needled by Rob Maness, also a Republican candidate, who is a retired Air Force Colonel.

Maness, who appears to running more against Cassidy than Landrieu, is claiming that Cassidy is not conservative enough to defeat the state’s senior senator.

NOLA Defender (NoDef), a New Orleans daily website and blog, went back and looked  at Cassidy’s past political contributions over the years.

Lo and behold, the website found that Cassidy has been a supporter of Landrieu, the person he is running against.

Federal campaign records show that Cassidy gave $500 to the Friends of Mary Landrieu campaign in 2002 when she was opposed by Republican Suzanne Haik Terrell.  Landrieu won, 52-48%.

Cassidy, a Baton Rouge physician who was elected to the U.S. House in 2008, was more generous to former Democratic Gov. Kathleen Blanco.

In October 2003 and January 2004, Cassidy gave Blanco a total of $2,000 when she was running against  Republican Bobby Jindal. The election, held in November 2003, was won by Blanco, 52-48%.

Here are some other contributions Cassidy made to Democrats as reported by NoDef:

*A $1,000 contribution in October 2009 to conservative Democratic state Sen. Ben Nevers of Opelousas.  The LAGOP made an all-out effort to  defeat Nevers in 2011, but he survived the challenge from Beth Mizell, winning 51-49%.

*Cassidy’s Continuing America’s Strength and Security PAC contributed to the Congressional campaign of a liberal Democrat from California, Ami Bera.

Bera, a fellow physician, won the U.S. House seat in California’s 7th District in 2012.  NoDef says he opposes offshore oil and gas drilling and thinks Obamacare didn’t go far enough in reducing health care costs. Ami’s position on those two issues are the exact opposite of Cassidy’s philosophy.

The Maness camp was quick to pounce on the revelations.  Spokesman James Hartman told NoDef:

“Congressman Cassidy’s fondness for liberal Democrats – including Sen. Landrieu and Gov. Blanco – and his flip-flopping  on  issues  are  well-documented  by the press and in the record of his campaign contributions.”

But, as NoDef points out, Maness gave $2,500 to a Democrat in 2011 – retired Air Force Gen. Jonathan George, who was running for Congress in Indiana’s 9th Congressional District.  He lost.

To be fair, campaign reporting records show that Cassidy has also been generous to Republican candidates, such as U.S. Sen. David Vitter and Gov. Bobby Jindal.

And he is likely not alone in giving to both sides of the aisle before and after being elected.  Many business people and politicians like to keep their bases covered for a variety of reasons.

Nevertheless, it makes for interesting political fodder.  The Cassidy campaign had no comment on NoDef’s article.


Legislators get a raise

Louisiana’s 144 state legislators – 39 senators and 105 representatives – will see a little more in their paychecks beginning October 1.

The daily per diem increases from $149 to $153.  That means each legislator will get $4 more a day when the Legislature is in session.

Per diem is also included for legislators when they are out-of-session and travel to Baton Rouge for committee meetings or other state business.

It’s not something the legislators recently voted upon.  Under state law, the per diem payment is tied to the reimbursement rate federal employees receive while traveling in the Baton Rouge area.  That rate went up, triggering the raise for state legislators.

State legislators get a base pay of $16,800, plus a $6,000 unvouchered expense allowance.

So, for a 60-day legislative session, legislators would be paid $9,180 in per diem.  That would bring their yearly compensation to $31,980.

Of course, if they attend committee meetings during the year, their total pay would go up accordingly. Legislators maintain offices in their district year-round.


DA Marvin fundraiser

Bossier-Webster District Attorney Schuyler Marvin’s fundraiser is scheduled for Saturday, September 28 at 2:30 p.m. at the Silver Star Steakhouse, 1201 Dixie Overland Road, Bossier City.

Food and refreshments will be served.  As an added attraction, Marvin scheduled his fundraiser to coincide with the start of the LSU-Georgia football game.  Big screen televisions will be at the facility so Tiger fans can watch the key SEC match-up.

For more information, call Lee Clemons at 318-965-3793 or e-mail lrclemons@aol.com.


Is Jindal moving on up?

The biennial Republican Conference in the state of Michigan conducted a straw poll to see who attendees preferred for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016.

The winner was U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who received 36% of the vote.  In second place was New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie with 18%, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was third with 8%.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal came in tied for fourth place with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.  Each received 7%.

Paul, Jindal and Walker spoke at the conference.  Christie, Cruz and Bush did not.

That showing for Jindal is one of his best in polls taken nationally and in specific states where he usually winds up with about 3% of the vote.

Michigan, however, is a traditional blue state.  In the 2012 presidential election, President Barack Obama carried the state with 54.3% of the vote.  Republican candidate Gov. Mitt Romney had 44.8%.

Paul touted his victory as one for a younger generation of Republicans.  He said the results highlight his cross-generational appeal on issues, such as criminal justice and minimum sentencing for drug crimes, which he called unjust and harmful to minorities.


Lou Gehrig Burnett is a seasoned veteran of national and local politics. He publishes Fax-Net Update, a weekly political newsletter.

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