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Louisiana Will Lose Presidential Primary Under Gov. Jindal’s Budget

Sec. Schedler Says Current Budget Plan Does Not Fund Primary or Voter Outreach

Baton Rouge, La- Secretary of State Tom Schedler testified in front of the state House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday that Gov. Jindal’s current budget does not provide the funds to hold next year’s presidential primary, and he will be forced to eliminate his office’s voter outreach program as well.  Especially troubling is that this announcement comes on the heels of the 50th Anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” and the historic March in Selma.

“This is an absolute outrage and a complete abdication of core responsibilities of the state government,” said Louisiana Democratic Party Chair Karen Carter Peterson. “Reasonable people can have robust conversations about the role and size of government – but surely we should all be able to agree that one role of government is to oversee fair and impartial elections.  Eliminating Louisiana’s voice in the choice of our next president is unacceptable.”

Given the timing and recent polls, Peterson went on to question the reason for this drastic position taken by the Governor. “One must ask the question – is he doing this because he knows he couldn’t win in his own state? How much more will Louisiana have to sacrifice at the altar of Bobby Jindal’s presidential ambitions?”

Jindal garnered a mere two percent support from the most recent Iowa presidential primary poll, and a Republican poll has shown Jindal with a 27 percent approval rating in Louisiana.


Sen. Vitter Was Pro-Grover Norquist Before Running for Governor

VitterNorquist Sen. Vitter (far right) pictured with Grover Norquist (far left).
Image courtesy of the AP

BATON ROUGE, LA – After noticing the havoc of Washington special interests on Louisiana’s state budget, Sen. David Vitter decided that his close friendship with Grover Norquist needed a break. When asked if he will renew his pledge to Norquist’s lobbyist group, Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), to oppose any and all tax increases, Vitter stated:

“I’ve made it crystal clear that, as Louisiana’s next governor, I’ll make Louisiana-based decisions that are best for us here, not ones based on what some Washington group dictates.”

But just two years ago, Vitter and Norquist were close allies in their effort to shut down the government, holding a joint press conference to deliberatively triple the cost of health care for government workers.

“Sen. Vitter is basically admitting that he has not been making Louisiana-based decisions that were in the best interests of his constituents as a Louisiana senator and that his actions will only change if he is elected governor,” said Louisiana Democratic Party Chair Karen Carter Peterson. “Telling Louisianians that you will only look out for their interests if elected governor is disgraceful, just like shutting down the government.”

Vitter, along with Gov. Bobby Jindal and 32 other state and federal elected officials, have signed the ATR pledge.  The pledge binds candidates to oppose any and all tax increases, even in the event of a crisis or natural disaster. The pledge has come under scrutiny recently from state legislators because of its influence on Jindal’s decisions concerning a $1.6 billion budget shortfall.


LDP Statement on Gov. Jindal’s Budget Proposal

Baton Rouge, LA – Louisiana Democratic Party Executive Director Stephen Handwerk released the following statement on the governor’s state budget proposal for the 2015-2016 fiscal year:

“There is still much to be desired in Gov. Jindal’s budget. The reductions of $567 million in higher education funding saddle our college students and their families with an exorbitant tab. Louisianians also cannot afford a $235 million cut from state health services at a time when our hospitals are struggling to serve their communities. It is clear that Gov. Jindal’s presidential ambitions are preventing state agencies from serving their fundamental purpose. We hope that the coming legislative session will help him get back to the basics.”


State Legislators Concerned Over Governor Jindal’s Disrespectful Remarks to the Office of the U.S. Presidency & His Lack of Interest in State Budget Crisis

Jindal’s Remarks Disrespect the Office He Seeks 

Baton Rouge, LA – Today, Louisiana lawmakers reacted to the disrespectful and hurtful comments Gov. Jindal made defending former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and worsened by his White House press conference.

Last week, Gov. Jindal released a formal statement of support after former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s controversial comments on President Obama. Jindal also called the ex-mayor to congratulate him the day after the remarks took place. Jindal was neither prompted for comment nor present at the event.  On Monday, Jindal took to the White House to declare the President “unfit to be commander in chief,” doubling down on his comments last week.

“Governor Jindal embarrassed himself and his state this past week” said state Rep. Katrina Jackson.  “It is highly disappointing that our governor would choose to question whether our President loves our country.  Has it really come to this?  Regretfully this governor and the former mayor of New York have taken politics to a new low.  Governor Jindal’s lack of focus on our state’s current budget crisis and continued need to promote division does absolutely nothing to aid the people of Louisiana.  As legislators continue to work across party lines in an effort to solve our most pressing needs for basic human services such as Education and Healthcare, we find ourselves continuously calling him home to focus on those who elected him.”

The legislators voiced concerns that these episodes pointed to the misplaced priorities of state Republicans. Jindal’s frequent absences from the state and gaffe-filled national appearances have shown that solving the $1.6 billion budget crisis isn’t his top priority. While he has proposed that his own office budget only be cut by $10,000 (less than one tenth of one percent), other statewide offices and departments face millions in reductions. In the days surrounding the release of his budget, Gov. Jindal will speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland and a Florida summit sponsored by the Club for Growth.

“Louisiana citizens are calling on our governor to work with legislators to solve Louisiana’s problems” said state Rep. Ed Price. “At a time when we need his attention back home, he rather talk about Rudy Giuliani, and worse. He is telling us to tighten our belts but refuses to downsize his own office. Our hospitals and universities are in dire straits, but he gets to travel all over the country with state campaign funds and our tax dollars.”

“No one in Louisiana has time to weigh in on petty gossip including the Governor.   His out of state schedule seriously impairs his ability to meet with legislators and constituents and focus on Louisiana,” said state Rep. Ledricka Thierry. “He wants to reduce funding for our public universities by $300 million, leaving students and their families holding the bag. Our hospitals don’t have enough money to serve the community, but he can jet around to fancy events all over the country.”

Gov. Jindal’s recent budget outlined a $13 million cut to the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, along with a loss of $8 million in federal matching funds. His refusal to expand Medicaid will cost the state $1.8 billion a year in federal dollars.

“Governor Jindal must join with legislators to put an end to this crisis,” said state Rep. Regina Barrow.  “We need to expand Medicaid, protect higher education opportunities, pass equal pay for our working families. I don’t know what‘s worse, the governor’s rejection or his absence from the discussion entirely. The governor should worry less about the job he wants and focus on the job he has.”



Jindal Courts Beltway Elites With Gaffe-Filled Tour

DC Media to Bobby: We’re Just Not That Into You

BATON ROUGE — Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is back in Baton Rouge today for a damage-control call with Moody’s — which is warning of a credit downgrade — but his trip this week to pay court to the D.C. media was mostly a belly flop into the burgeoning pool of GOP presidential contenders.

“For a guy who claims not to care what Beltway elites think, Governor Jindal certainly spends a lot of time pandering to them,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “He’s spent half the week in Washington, hanging out with MSNBC hosts and speaking at clubby breakfast meetings, as the state of Louisiana sinks further into debt.”

Here are some of the highlights from Jindal’s Beltway media tour: reached out to Larry Sabato, whose Crystal Ball published a ranking of the GOP presidential field and put Jindal in the fourth tier, for his assessment of Jindal’s tour. Sabato said, “Jindal has not exactly taken the Republican contest by storm, so I suppose you can argue that these events, while unfortunate, have at least gotten his name into the headlines around the country.”


Rand Paul Takes Break from Vaccine Denialism to Endorse David Vitter for Governor

Rand: “The people of Louisiana deserve a governor like David Vitter”

BATON ROUGE — David Vitter got an endorsement today from Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who said last week that most vaccines should be “voluntary” and that he knew of children who developed “profound mental disorders” after being vaccinated.

“David Vitter must be truly desperate for support in his incipient gubernatorial campaign if he’s dragging out an endorsement from Rand Paul — a doctor that touts fake science,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “Paul’s record is full of even more bizarre statements and stances, like suggesting business owners should have the right to discriminate based on race and voting against the Violence Against Women Act. By embracing Paul, Vitter is embracing this troubling record of extremism. Rand Paul is wrong — Louisiana voters deserve better than David Vitter.”

In an email today to Vitter supporters, Paul wrote, “I know that the people of Louisiana deserve a governor like David Vitter…. Throughout his time in the Senate, David Vitter has listened to the needs of the people of Louisiana and has been a strong advocate of Louisiana values.”

Here’s just a sampling of Paul’s dangerous record:

In 2010 Paul told the Louisville Courier-Journal’s editorial board that owners of private business should not have to abide by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — landmark legislation that desegregated housing, hotels and restaurants across the country.

Paul also opposes the Violence Against Women Act and theorizes the law is unconstitutional.

Last year Paul and Vitter both voted to block equal pay legislation — despite the fact that Louisiana is ranked dead last for pay equity.

“Paul and Vitter think it’s okay to pay a woman less for doing the same job as her male colleagues, but that is the exact opposite of ‘Louisiana values,’” said Handwerk. “Louisiana women earn just 66 cents on the dollar, and we need a governor who will work to address this inequity, not stand in the way of progress. Rand Paul’s endorsement shows that Vitter is the wrong choice for Louisiana families.”


Bobby Jindal: Out of State and Out of Touch

On Morning Joe, Jindal Shows He’s Clueless About Devastating Cuts to Higher Education

BATON ROUGE — Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal continued to court Beltway elites with his appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe today, but he demonstrated just how out of touch he’s become when he claimed a year at Louisiana State University costs less than $10,000 — it actually costs more than $20,000 for an undergrad.

“Perhaps Governor Jindal should spend more time here in Louisiana, focused on the budget crisis he’s created and the crippling cuts facing our colleges and universities, rather than rubbing elbows with D.C. media folks,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “Tuition has nearly doubled since Jindal took office, and those tuition hikes are essentially tax increases on the working families of this state. Jindal showed just how out of touch he’s become when he wrongly claimed it costs less than $10,000 a year to send your child to LSU. The real price tag is more like $20,000 a year, but Jindal is simply clueless when it comes to how his failed policies are hurting Louisiana families.”

Today Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough and Jindal discussed cuts to LSU:

SCARBOROUGH: “Are you going to cut funding for LSU and is it going to cost 90 percent  more for people to go to LSU?”

JINDAL: “Look I don’t know where the 90 percent, I haven’t seen the 90 percent number. We have the second lowest tuition in the south. One of the lowest tuition rates in the entire country in Louisiana.”

SCARBOROUGH: “What is the tuition for LSU for a year undergrad?”

JINDAL: “I mean I think it, look I don’t, it’s under, it’s certainly well under $10,000 when you look at fees, housing. It’s cheaper than other schools in the south, in the SEC.”

For an in-state, undergraduate student, LSU estimates the yearly cost of attendance is $20,564 ($8,758 in tuition & fees, $6,120 in housing, $4,186 in a meal plan and $1,500 for books and supplies).

A recent Politico profile of Jindal’s irresponsible budget practices noted that “Jindal’s cuts to the public colleges and universities have been the deepest of any state over the past eight years… Tuition at the public institutions will be 90 percent higher in 2015 than when Jindal took office.”


Nearly 150K Louisianians Have Enrolled in Affordable Care Act To Date

About 9 in 10 Louisianians Are Receiving Help with Their Premiums; Average Monthly Premium Is $108

BATON ROUGE — The Affordable Care Act is helping more than 148,000 Louisianians get health insurance, and the average monthly premium for Louisianians who enrolled at is $108, according to numbers released yesterday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“This is huge news for the people of Louisiana, who are now able to go online, compare health insurance plans and choose the one that’s right for their family,” said Louisiana Democratic Party Chair Karen Carter Peterson. “The Affordable Care Act is living up to the promise of its name because the average premium for a Louisianian is right around $100 a month. Enrollment in Louisiana is up nearly 50 percent compared to 2014, and enrollment is still open through this Sunday.

“Unfortunately, Louisiana Republicans like David Vitter and Bill Cassidy are fighting to take away affordable coverage from nearly 150,000 hard-working Louisianians by repealing the Affordable Care Act. They want to put insurance companies back in charge, let them kick people off their coverage and prevent people with pre-existing conditions from getting affordable health care. In addition, Bobby Jindal is blocking coverage for more than 240,000 Louisianians by refusing federal Medicaid expansion dollars. We’ve already seen one hospital emergency room close because of Jindal’s political ambitions — how many more will we see shutter this year?”

Of the 148,552 Louisianians who got covered as of Jan. 30, 89 percent received an “advance premium tax credit” to help with the cost of their premiums. Last year about 102,000 Louisianians enrolled at The deadline to enroll for health insurance in 2015 on is Sunday, Feb. 15.

Read HHS’s complete report here:

UPDATE: As of Feb. 6, 157,900 Louisianians had enrolled in the Affordable Care Act.


Louisiana Democratic Party Statement on Black History Month

BATON ROUGE — Louisiana Democratic Party Chair Karen Carter Peterson today released the following statement on celebrating February as Black History Month:

“This month we highlight the incomparable contributions African Americans have made to our country’s story. Black Louisianians left their indelible imprint on our state’s culture and helped to shape America’s future. From the nation’s first African-American governor, P.B.S. Pinchback, to Reverend T.J. Jemison, who organized Baton Rouge’s bus boycott and inspired the Montgomery boycott several years later, to Mahalia Jackson, who was the voice of the civil rights movement — Louisiana has been the home to many significant black leaders, artists and thinkers. This month is a time to reflect on our past and look toward our future through education.

“As Americans, our kaleidoscopic heritage is a testament to our powerful exceptionalism. Each twine of our multifarious legacy is woven into a greater American story. Our shared national history is one of expanding liberty, enhanced dignity and the relentless struggle to secure our inalienable rights. And so should our future be, as we look ever forward toward a more perfect union, never forgetting the giants upon whose shoulders we continue to stand today.”



Baton Rouge General Shutters Emergency Room After Jindal’s Fix Fails to Materialize

Medicaid Expansion Dollars Could Save Hospitals Across Louisiana

BATON ROUGEMonths after Democratic legislators called for Gov. Bobby Jindal to accept Medicaid expansion dollars and protect Louisiana hospitals, Baton Rouge General today announced it will be closing its Mid-City emergency room within 60 days after Jindal failed to deliver on promised funding to keep the facility open.

“It’s probably a good thing that Governor Jindal is never in Louisiana because the hospital located closest to the Governor’s Mansion is shutting down its emergency room,” said Karen Carter Peterson, chair of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “Writing op-eds for Politico won’t solve the crisis facing our hospitals. Repealing the Affordable Care Act won’t provide coverage to hundreds of thousands of working Louisianians who lack health insurance. In state after state, Republican governors are realizing that accepting Medicaid expansion dollars is the right decision for their citizens. Jindal is more interested in pandering to Republican voters in Iowa and New Hampshire, and Louisianians are paying the price. I expect we will see even more hospitals close their doors, unless Republican legislators have the courage to stand up to Jindal and do the right thing for the people of Louisiana.”

In August 2014, the hospital announced that pressure from uninsured patients would force it to close the Mid-City emergency room. The Jindal Administration responded by claiming it found $18 million to keep the ER open, but Democrats noted that Jindal officials refused to reveal where they had found the funds, given the state had finished the year with a deficit.

In contrast to Louisiana, states that have accepted Medicaid expansion dollars have seen hospital revenues grow and charity care decline. According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Louisiana will lose out on $15.8 billion in federal funding by refusing Medicaid expansion, and Louisiana hospitals will miss out on $8 billion in reimbursements.



Louisiana Democratic Party Statement on the 6th Anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

BATON ROUGE — Louisiana Democratic Party Chair Karen Carter Peterson today released the following statement on the 6th anniversary of President Barack Obama signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law:

“It’s hard to believe that it’s already been six years since President Obama signed the first law of his administration, but I’m so proud it was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. That action was a strong statement about our core Democratic values of fairness and opportunity for all.

“Unfortunately, since that time Republicans have stonewalled any attempt to continue progress on the issue of paycheck fairness. Meanwhile, Louisiana women have fallen further behind. Our state has the pitiful distinction of having the worst gender pay gap in the nation — but our Republican members of Congress, including David Vitter and Bill Cassidy, have consistently opposed any attempt to address this critical issue.

“Louisiana women deserve better. Louisiana families deserve better. They deserve leaders that understand the wage gap hurts middle-class families and holds back our state’s economic potential. Because congressional Republicans have refused to act, Democrats in the Louisiana legislature will continue to stand up and fight for equal pay.”

Every single member of Louisiana’s delegation that was in Congress in 2009 voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act:

  • Vitter – NO

(S. 181, Vote #14, 1/22/09)

  • Cassidy – NO

  • Scalise – NO

  • Boustany – NO

  • Fleming – NO

(S. 181, Vote #37, 1/27/09)

In addition, Gov. Bobby Jindal voted against Lilly Ledbetter legislation when he was serving in the U.S. House (H.R. 2831, Vote #768, 7/31/07).

In 2014 the American Association of University Women (AAUW) ranked Louisiana as the worst state in the nation for pay inequity. The national gender wage gap is 78 cents on the dollar; however, Louisiana women earn just 66 cents for every dollar paid to Louisiana men. It’s even worse in Boustany’s 3rd Congressional District, where women only earn 61 cents on the dollar.


Jindal Using State Resources to Campaign for President?

Louisiana’s Governor Ignores Growing Budget Deficit to Make Political Speeches in Europe

BATON ROUGE — Gov. Bobby Jindal hasn’t announced he’s running for president (yet), but he’s heading to London to deliver a speech bashing Hillary Clinton — and he’s using taxpayer-funded resources to help promote what appears to be an entirely political speech.

“We’ve known for a very long time that Governor Jindal spends most of his waking moments advancing his political future, rather than doing the job that Louisiana taxpayers are paying him to do,” said Louisiana Democratic Party Executive Director Stephen Handwerk. “Now it’s becoming clear that Jindal has no problem with using state employees and resources to advance his political future. Despite all of the crises facing Louisiana right now, Jindal is jetting off to Europe to burnish his foreign policy credentials. There is simply no acceptable reason why the governor’s official press office should be working overtime to promote what is essentially a campaign speech.”

According to a Tweet from reporter Julia O’Donoghue, Jindal’s official press office today sent out an email blast to reporters touting a preview of his London speech. The preview indicates the speech is entirely about foreign policy — which may be helpful for a 2016 presidential contender, but has nothing to do with Jindal’s gubernatorial portfolio.

Jindal’s political travel isn’t limited to international destinations, however. Louisiana’s governor has been spending significant time in Iowa, New Hampshire and other states. Jindal’s out-of-state travel from 2008 to 2012 cost Louisiana taxpayers more than $175,000 to cover the governor’s security detail. While Jindal may be using campaign funds to cover some of the costs of his political travel, some have suggested using state campaign dollars for a nascent presidential campaign could violate campaign finance laws.

Jindal’s European jaunt is happening even as Louisiana is facing a billion-dollar budget shortfall in the upcoming fiscal year. The Jindal administration recently announced it is planning to slash higher education funding by up to $300 million. Louisiana has already cut funding for public colleges and universities by nearly $700 million during the Jindal administration. Jindal is also demanding a $3.8-million cut to administer Louisiana’s elections.


Five New Year’s Resolutions for Congressman Steve Scalise

BATON ROUGE — While Congressman Steve Scalise has acknowledged speaking to the European Unity and Rights Organization and admitted the decision to address the hate group was “a mistake I regret,” Scalise has to date failed to offer any actions that demonstrate remorse.

“Words are nice, but they should be just the first step in Congressman Scalise atoning for this egregious lapse in judgment,” said Louisiana Democratic Party Executive Director Stephen Handwerk. “If we are to take him at his word that he opposes ‘hateful bigotry,’ then he should accompany those words with action. There are many issues that deserve urgent attention from the House GOP leadership to improve the lives of African Americans in Louisiana and across the country. We expect Congressman Scalise to lead on these issues.”

As the 114th Congress convenes this week, the Louisiana Democratic Party offered the following New Year’s resolutions for Congressman Scalise:

  1. I, Representative Steve Scalise, hereby resolve to sign on as a cosponsor to bipartisan legislation that would restore and strengthen the Voting Rights Act.

  2. I, Representative Steve Scalise, hereby resolve to support legislation that would expand access to affordable health care for Louisianians trapped in the “Jindal gap” and others who have been blocked from coverage in states that have refused to accept federal Medicaid expansion dollars.

  3. I, Representative Steve Scalise, hereby resolve to work to restore funding for historically black colleges and universities.

  4. I, Representative Steve Scalise, hereby resolve to ask the House GOP leadership team to bring up legislation to increase the minimum wage.

  5. I, Representative Steve Scalise, hereby resolve to ask the House GOP leadership team to bring up legislation to ensure paycheck fairness for all Americans.



Louisiana Democratic Party Statement on Revelations on Congressman Steve Scalise

BATON ROUGE — The Louisiana Democratic Party released the following statement from Executive Director Stephen Handwerk on today’s revelation that Congressman Steve Scalise has acknowledged addressing a conference of white nationalist leaders in 2002:

“It’s disturbing to learn that Congressman Scalise has admitted that he spoke to an organization the Southern Poverty Law Center has deemed a hate group and the Anti-Defamation League characterizes as anti-Semitic.

“It’s even more disturbing to hear that his allies are trying to sweep this incident under the rug by blaming Scalise’s staff and claiming the then-state representative didn’t know the group’s ideology. That’s ridiculous. There were media reports running up to the event that made it crystal clear who was going to be the highlight — David Duke, a prominent Louisiana Republican that made an unsuccessful run for governor just a few years before and represented Scalise’s home parish in the state legislature in the 1980s. If someone in Louisiana didn’t know about David Duke’s beliefs in 2002, they must have been hiding under a very large rock somewhere.

“Which leads to some uncomfortable questions… Who exactly invited Scalise in the first place? Was it David Duke? Duke addressed the group via tele-conference. Wasn’t Scalise present during Duke’s remarks? And what exactly did Scalise say that so impressed the attendees that they were raving about his appearance several years later? Has he accepted any subsequent invitations from the group? Has he accepted any campaign contributions from the organization’s members? Voters deserve answers to these questions.

“I wish I could attribute Scalise’s appearance to ignorance or ineptitude, but his excuses ring hollow. The congressman should address this controversy for once and for all, in person, not through allies, spokespeople and press statements, and he should apologize for helping to legitimize a group that should be marginalized and denigrated, not wooed by elected officials. This is a serious stain on Scalise’s record as a public servant, that he spoke to a hate group and now lacks the courage to face the voters and make amends for such an egregious lapse in judgment.”


Louisiana Citizen Files Ethics Complaint Against Congressman Bill Cassidy

BATON ROUGE – Dr. Gilda Werner Reed, a faculty member at the University of New Orleans, today filed a formal complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics, urging the office to investigate whether Congressman Bill Cassidy violated House rules and federal law by “filing inaccurate personal financial disclosures and misreporting the nature of his outside earned income.” The complaint comes a week after media reports unveiled Congressman Cassidy has been receiving salaries for two taxpayer-funded jobs, despite not working the hours he was paid for.

“These recent reports have shown that not only did Congressman Cassidy charge taxpayers more than $100,000 for work he did not do, he may have also lied to the U.S. House of Representatives to cover up a legal and ethical breach,” Dr. Reed said. “Congressman Cassidy’s actions are more than a betrayal of public trust by a public official — they are illegal, and the seriousness of this betrayal should not be understated.”

In addition to drawing a salary that he did not earn, the recently disclosed documents also expose that he may have misled the U.S. House of Representatives about how he was making extra money. According to the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, violating these rules can result in up to $50,000 in penalties and one year in prison, which can go up to five years imprisonment if a member willfully makes false, fictitious, or fraudulent statements to the federal government.

The letter to the ethics office outlines two primary charges: that Congressman Cassidy misreported the nature of his income and misreported the source of his income.

Congressman Cassidy’s personal financial disclosure forms have said he receives $20,000 per year from the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center (LSUHSC). On his 2012 and 2013 forms, Congressman Cassidy claimed the money only covered his expenses and that he did not “profit” from it. When questioned about those expenses, his office explained he meant his medical malpractice insurance. But a letter from the House Committee on Ethics that surfaced last week, as well as reports in the media, found that based on what Congressman Cassidy told them, LSUHSC already covers medical malpractice insurance and other expenses, and that the $20,000 per year salary was in addition to all of that — a direct contradiction to his financial disclosure forms.

The letter also explicitly states that Congressman Cassidy may only receive compensation for the responsibilities of his teaching position, and that he cannot earn income from serving as a consultant to LSUHSC. But, according to media reports, Congressman Cassidy’s former direct supervisor has told the media that Congressman Cassidy has been working as an “outside consultant for the school,” which would be a breach of the House Committee on Ethics’ guidelines.

The letter is addressed to the Office of Congressional Ethics, which is an independent, nonpartisan office governed by a board of private citizens. The office reviews allegations of misconduct by members of the U.S. House of Representatives and recommends whether there is need of further review by the House Committee on Ethics.

The full letter to the committee can be seen here:


Louisiana Democratic Party Statement on Congressman Cassidy Campaigning with Phil Robertson

BATON ROUGE — The Louisiana Democratic Party released the following statement from Chair Karen Carter Peterson on the announcement that Congressman Bill Cassidy will be campaigning with Phil Robertson, who told GQ magazine last year that African Americans were “singing and happy” during the Jim Crow era.

“If the Louisiana Republican Party is serious about reaching out to African Americans, then doing campaign events with Phil Robertson, who espouses the disturbing belief that Jim Crow wasn’t so bad for people of color, is a curious way of doing that. Perhaps Robertson never saw ‘the mistreatment of any black person,’ but the people he’s so proud to have worked alongside were barred from exercising the most basic right accorded to all Americans — the right to vote.

“Mr. Robertson is a colorful character, and he’s entitled to shout his opinions from the rooftops. He is a reality TV star, after all. But this is a political rally, and Congressman Bill Cassidy should be ashamed to be providing Mr. Robertson with a stage and microphone to spread his political beliefs further than rooftop ranting would allow. If Cassidy insists in standing with Robertson, the voters of Louisiana are at least entitled to know if Cassidy shares Robertson’s beliefs.”


Gov. Bobby Jindal Continues Beltway Schmooze Fest with Speech at American Enterprise Institute

BATON ROUGE – Even though his own constituents — by a 68-20 percent margin — think he should not run for president, Gov. Bobby Jindal is continuing to court D.C. insiders and Beltway pundits with today’s speech at the American Enterprise Institute, where Jindal doubled down on the same failed foreign policy of the Bush Administration.

“This governor has been an abject failure on nearly every policy he has tried to implement, and the people of Louisiana can’t wait for him to leave the governor’s mansion,” said Karen Carter Peterson, chair of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “The irony of him offering foreign policy advice is astounding. From what I can tell, he wants to take us back to the Bush-Cheney doctrine of endless wars put on a credit card, saddling future generations with debt and deficits. The taxpayers of Louisiana are well-acquainted with Jindal’s fiscal irresponsibility, and today’s speech is simply more of the same.”

Some of Jindal’s latest and greatest in-state achievements include:



Governor “47 Percent” Hangs With Doctor “Illiterate” Today for French Quarter Fundraiser

BATON ROUGE – Two-time failed presidential candidate Mitt Romney is headed to the Pelican State today to rake in the dough for Congressman Bill Cassidy at a high-dollar New Orleans fundraiser.

“There’s no telling what Congressman Cassidy and Governor Romney will discuss at their French Quarter shindig today, but I’m 47 percent sure it won’t be about what Louisiana families actually need,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “They need a fair minimum wage and equal pay for equal work. They need to be able to retire at a reasonable age and access the Social Security and Medicare benefits they’ve paid for. Congressman Cassidy and Governor Romney think it’s not their job to worry about those things, but they couldn’t be less educated about what’s really important to working families in Louisiana.”

A fundraiser was the setting for Romney’s infamous “47 percent” speech that chastised Americans who pay no federal income tax, saying, “My job is not to worry about those people.” Observers quickly noted that “those people” consists mainly of seniors, veterans, people with disabilities and low-income working families.

Cassidy had his own “47 percent” moment earlier this year when he called people without health insurance “less educated” and “illiterate” at the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association’s annual meeting.

According to the latest statistics from the Census Bureau, about 751,000 Louisianians — or about 16.6 percent of the population — lack health coverage. While the uninsured rate has plummeted in states that have accepted federal Medicaid expansion dollars, Louisiana’s uninsured rate has stayed relatively unchanged.

Before making his way to Louisiana, Romney stopped in the Bluegrass State yesterday to give his endorsement to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.


MEMO: Jindal and Boehner Dragging Down Cassidy’s Support in LA-SEN Race?

To: Interested Parties

From:  Stephen Handwerk

Date: Oct. 1, 2014

RE: Jindal and Boehner Dragging Down Cassidy’s Support in LA-SEN Race?

National pundits have to date focused on the potential impact of President Barack Obama on the outcome of Louisiana’s Senate race. The Beltway prism tends to revolve around the White House, but Republican leaders in D.C. and Louisiana could play just as big a role in holding down Congressman Bill Cassidy’s support from Louisiana Republicans and independents.

The Public Policy Polling survey of Louisiana voters released yesterday revealed that while the president’s approval numbers are underwater, Gov. Bobby Jindal has even worse numbers. Only 34 percent of those surveyed approve of Jindal’s job performance, while 55 percent disapprove. Jindal’s numbers have been creeping ever lower, and last week saw his former health secretary indicted on charges of perjury.

Another poll released yesterday by LSU’s Public Policy Research Lab found widespread dissatisfaction with Congress among both parties. However, a majority of Republican voters in Louisiana disapprove of the job their own Republican leaders in Congress are doing. John Boehner, Mitch McConnell — even Louisiana Republicans aren’t big fans.

As Jindal flits from early primary state to early primary state, some folks are starting to notice that Jindal has been conspicuously absent from the Cassidy campaign. Maybe it’s because Jindal has been kindly asked to stay away or maybe he’s covertly supporting Rob Maness, as his old ally, Tony Perkins, is overtly doing.

Whatever the reason, Cassidy can’t run far enough to get away from the failed policies that both he and Jindal have backed. Consider, for example:

  1. Hospital privatization — Cassidy prominently highlights his service as a doctor at Earl K. Long Hospital in Baton Rouge as part of his biography. What he fails to mention is that Jindal has shuttered that hospital as part of his hospital privatization scheme, a plan so shoddily crafted that the federal government shot down its financing plan earlier this year. Cassidy has supported Jindal’s privatization scheme that is dismantling the charity and university hospital system. This summer another hospital in Cassidy’s own congressional district nearly closed its emergency room because of the stream of uninsured patients flocking to their doors. Cassidy was nowhere to be found as Baton Rouge General’s Mid-City Campus almost shuttered its emergency room because of Jindal’s failed policies.
  2. Medicaid expansion — The poll released by Public Policy Polling found a majority of Louisianians support Medicaid expansion. However, both Cassidy and Jindal have steadfastly opposed Louisiana accepting more than $16 billion in federal funding to help expand access to affordable health care. More than 240,000 working Louisianians are falling into the “Jindal gap” — making too much for Medicaid and not enough for subsidies on the health insurance exchange. Despite the fact that Republicans David Vitter and Jay Dardenne have opened the door to finding a compromise on Medicaid expansion, Cassidy and Jindal continue to oppose it, and Cassidy has even said that having Medicaid insurance is “actually worse” than being uninsured.
  3. Minimum wage — Yesterday’s PPP poll also found a majority of Louisianians back raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour. Jindal opposes raising the minimum wage — despite the fact that he actually voted for a minimum wage hike during the Bush Administration when he was in Congress. Cassidy also opposes raising the minimum wage and has suggested it hurts low-income working people. The nonpartisan Louisiana Budget Project found that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would provide a direct pay raise for 360,000 Louisiana workers, create an estimated 3,300 full-time jobs and pump nearly $689 million into the state’s economy.

Even if Cassidy is hiding from appearances from Jindal (or vice versa), he can’t hide from the unpopular agenda they both support.

This March Cassidy declined to comment whether he would back Mitch McConnell for Republican Leader if he were elected to the Senate. On the other hand, Cassidy has taken partisan vote after partisan vote as directed by House Speaker John Boehner. Even though Boehner has presided over the least-productive Congress in modern American history, House Republicans have managed to pass a few poorly regarded pieces of legislation.

A few highlights from the Boehner/Cassidy agenda:

  1. Ryan Budget — Cassidy has voted repeatedly for the Paul Ryan’s budget plan, a key part of Boehner’s legislative agenda. The Ryan budget proposal ends Medicare as we know it and removes the safety net our seniors have come to rely on. Cassidy has also backed raising the age to receive Social Security and Medicare benefits to 70, while at the same time slashing benefits by tens of thousands of dollars.
  2. GOP ShutdownBoehner’s 16-day shutdown of the federal government in 2013 cost Louisiana more than $90 million in economic activity. Cassidy backed the shutdown and voted 16 times with his House Republican colleagues against efforts to reopen the government. Louisianians overwhelmingly opposed the GOP shutdown.
  3. Student Loans — Boehner’s plan for student loans ended federal subsidies for the program and tied loan rates to the whims of Wall Street. Cassidy has voted to cut billions in school funding, while opposing increases to Pell Grants and supporting increases in interest rates on student loans, which help students and their families afford college.

Ultimately, Cassidy’s record shows that he supports radical policies that have torpedoed the popularity of Jindal and Boehner. It’s no surprise Cassidy doesn’t want to be seen with either one. Maybe he could ask Eric Cantor for some fundraising help? We hear he’s got some time on his hands.


Advocates Tout Violence Against Women Act As Essential for Louisiana Women, Families

Sen. Mary Landrieu Backed 2013 Reauthorization, While Congressman Bill Cassidy Voted No

NEW ORLEANS – Advocates in New Orleans today touted the Violence Against Women Act — which was reauthorized in 2013 with the strong support of Sen. Mary Landrieu and despite Congressman Bill Cassidy voting against the bill — as essential for protecting women and families across Louisiana since its passage 20 years ago.

“On this issue, Congressman Cassidy has been negligent at best and, more often than not, hostile on this issue,” said Lynda Woolard, president of the Independent Women’s Organization. “We need legislators like Senator Landrieu who will put politics aside to protect Louisiana women.”

Congressman Cassidy skipped votes to strengthen confidentiality protections for domestic violence victims and expand protections for Native Americans and LGBT victims.

“Both Republican and Democratic presidents have supported reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act since its passage, because they understand that the law saves lives,” said Mary Claire Landry, executive director of the New Orleans Family Justice Center. “The law provides funds for organizations like mine to prevent domestic violence.”

Over the past eight years, the law has provided more than $42 million for Louisiana organizations to fight to end the cycle of abuse.

“The rate of violence against women is so high above the national average in Louisiana, and fighting it requires the support of allies that cut across class, race and socioeconomic lines,” said Deon Haywood, executive director of Women with a Vision. “Senator Landrieu should not be the only one in the Senate election who supports the Violence Against Women Act and who wants to end the cycle of violence against women.”

Senator Landrieu has consistently fought for funding to help similar non-profit organizations expand their operations and end family violence.

“Even now, many places are struggling to deal with sexual assault and violence, which makes the funding that the Violence Against Women Act provides all the more important,” said Elizabeth Wagner, a third-year law student at Tulane University. “Anyone like Congressman Bill Cassidy, who votes against the Violence Against Women Act, does not deserve a promotion.”

Since the passage of VAWA in 1994, domestic violence rates have dropped by more than 60 percent. Today’s event comes after the recent 20-year anniversary of the legislation.



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