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The New Louisiana Governor-Realities-No longer perception

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In just a few short weeks, Louisiana’s new Governor-elect has gone from being an ideologue to a practical politician.? From perception of image to the realities of dealing with the political process.

? Bobby Jindal’s primary victory was a first for a non-incumbent as far back as anyone can remember.? He received an overwhelming mandate.? Some observers feel in was too big. For with his win, Jindal has raised the stakes on himself.? He will be under the gun in his first few months to not just talk the talk; but to walk the walk.? In short, he will need to produce.

? His call for a special session on ethics reform in January is a start.? The new Governor has spent the past two years hammering on his view that Louisiana’s reputation of having a high tolerance for corruption has kept many new businesses from locating in the Bayou State. Jindal will certainly push for stronger financial-disclosure requirements for legislators as well as lobbyists, and a ban on elected officials receiving state contracts. And with Louisiana ranked 44th out of 47 states that require disclosure filings, he has a good case to make.

? The question he has yet to address is whether to tackle stronger limitations on the receipt of campaign contributions.? Louisiana‘s campaign financial disclosure laws are filled with loopholes, allowing contributors to make numerous contributions through corporations, limited partnerships, and any other type of financial entity.? In short, as we saw in the first primary in statewide and legislative races, a single individual can find a number of ways to contribute large sums of money way beyond the listed limitations.

Governor Jindal will not be able to declare victory and a new beginning without addressing the issue of individuals and companies contributing large sums to candidates at ever level in the state. His first step should be to ban corporate contributions to political campaigns, as many other states (including Texas) have done.

The second would be to adopt some of the reporting standards now in place under federal election laws, particularly requiring contributors to list their employers and whether or not their employers serve as government contractors. You can talk about ethics all you want, but without stronger limitations on the massive campaign spending in Louisiana, ? real reform will be little more than window dressing.

? Author Walter Mosley, appearing on a C-SPAN Book TV program last weekend, and commented ? that most Americans now understand that politics is dominated not by Democrats or Republicans, but by what he called “the Money Party.” As a result, a large number of people have no faith in either party to respond to their real needs. Considering that in our most recent election, Louisiana had its lowest turnout in decades, the state certainly fall into this number.

Right now, Louisiana has loopholes in its campaign finance laws you could drive a truck through.? If the new Governor limits his ethics reform proposals to disclosure and limitations on just elected officials, he will give the perception of making some changes, but he will not be shutting the door on what are now widespread abuses.

? Bobby Jindal needs to do more than just get a hit his first time at bat with ? the new legislature.? He needs to hit a homerun.? Closing campaign finance loopholes will give him a good shot at getting off to a good start that is perceived as both perception and substantive change.

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“Money! It is money! Money! Money! Not ideas, nor principles, but money that reigns supreme in American politics.” – Sen. Robert C. Byrd (N.Y. Times, 3/20/97, at A26

Peace and Justice.

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Jim Brown

1 Response
  1. Jim: I have mentioned this to you previously. Although I enjoy your column, I do not like to read from my screen. You need a “printer friendly” version of your column. I tried printing the page and it cuts off the right side of the column. I had to copy and paste it into a WORD document in order to print it off. That’s too much trouble. I don’t understand why you can’t share this frustration with your website manger so that this “printer friendly” option can be added.

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