Friday, November 9, 2007

Jindal's Ethics 'Reform' Panel Undermined by Diefenthal Inclusion

CityBusiness reports that Governor-elect Bobby Jindal has completed his appointments to his ethics advisory panel.

Based on one name, it appears that Jindal's version of ethics reform will not include campaign finance reform — an essential element of any comprehensive ethics reform effort.

Edward "Ned" Deifenthal of Metairie used a number of Limited Liability Corporations (LLCs) under his control to make a series of contributions to Jindal's campaign in late 2006 that came to a grand total of $25,000. He also personally contributed $5,000 to Jindal's campaign. He also contributed $75,000 to the Louisiana Committee for a Republican Majority, as well as a number of Republican campaigns for the Louisiana Legislature.

By naming Deifenthal to the panel that is supposed to advise the Governor-elect on his much-anticipated ethics reform package, Jindal is sending a clear signal that he is not interested in reforming Louisiana's campaign finance laws.

Through the use of multiple LLCs under their control, a group of 28 individuals or companies made more than 100 contributions to Jindal's gubernatorial campaign which totaled more than $500,000. This method of using multiple LLCs to circumvent caps on campaign contributions has never been challenged before the state Board of Ethics, although it has been the subject of an advisory ruling based on a question submitted to the board in 2006.

Ethics reform that does not include campaign finance reform — particularly, the banning of corporate contributions from campaigns — leaves the door wide open for corruption. The Governor-elect is not interested in campaign finance reform and that undermines the legitimacy of his claim to be interested in ethics reform.

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