Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Bobby Jindal: cam head

The self-proclaimed 'Ethics Governor'™was laid bare as a fraud over the past week as the pay to play nature of his administration was revealed for all who cared to see.

Gold digger? Yes! Gold standard? Hardly!

First, last week the New York Times revealed that the Supriya Jindal Foundation was the beneficiary of conspicuous corporate largess, made all the more suspect by the fact that many of those same companies had matters that needed the Governor's attention.

Then, a tenacious legal fight over a study to consider the feasibility of merging the University of New Orleans with Southern University at New Orleans revealed more than a few unflattering facts about the Governor's appointing practices. It turns out that all of the Governor's appointments to the Board of Regents for Higher Education had two things in common: first, they were all maximum contributors ($5,000 per individual, not counting family members and companies); and, second, they were all white.

Jindal won that round of the legal fight, but even Republican sycophant pollster Bernie Pinsonat said he believed the Board of Regents story had the potential to prove costly to the Governor.

It's probably just a coincidence that Pinsonat's remarks were published just before 2 p.m. on Lundi Gras and within two hours Jindal's office announced the resignation from the Board of long time member and Turner Industries President and CEO Roland Toups. Jindal political guru Timmy Teepel made it clear that he and Jindal had asked Toups to resign in order to provide the Governor with the chance to name a minority member to the Board.

Turner Industries, it turns out, is charged with employment discrimination against African Americans in a lawsuit filed in Texas. According to the Wall Street Journal, nearly 250 workers sued, alleging racial discrimination in hiring, pay, promotions and on-the-job treatment. Turner Industries, the paper reported, has had a number of such suits brought against it by employees and by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The question that should immediately be raised is whether this minority member will have to first contribute to Jindal's campaign in order to get the seat, or has the Jindal camp already scoured their campaign finance reports to identify potential candidates? Is green the only color Jindal can see?

The extent to which Jindal and his team are so out of touch on racial issues is made clear by the belief that appointing a single minority member to the Board of Regents will somehow correct the Governor's defective appointing patterns. That pattern shows that Jindal views African Americans as irrelevant to the governmental process at the state level.

Late last year, the Legislative Black Caucus called attention to Jindal's appointing practices in a press release that came on the heels of legislative testimony by one of Jindal's assistants. The Governor did not feel compelled to respond.

The sacking of Toups indicates that the Governor only started to consider the impact of his appointing practices when it became clear it might cost him something he wanted — specifically, the closure of the SUNO campus. The lack of a minority member on the Board with a vote appears to contradict the will of the Legislature when it passed the law creating the Board of Regents and the amendment to the Louisiana Constitution that voters approved in 1998. When Blacks complained about his pay-to-play system, he could ignore it. But, when the matter got raised in a court of law, that changed things.

Rumor has it that Jindal two conditions for people seeking appointment to the Southern University System Board of Supervisors. The first is that any appointee cannot give money to anyone running against Jindal; the second is that they cannot work against the election of any Republican legislators in their area.

The pay-to-play issue and the racial composition of the Board of Regents will not go away in the SUNO matter because the plaintiffs have announced that they intend to pursue an appeal.

The Jindal Way: Pay-to-Play

The pay-to-play model cropped up in connection with the Supriya Jindal Foundation where, the New York Times first reported, major corporations with business before the state have been making large contributions to the First Lady's foundation. Sure, they only want to help her help the kids, but there is one thing that pushes this beyond some liberal media trying to do a hit job on our nationally irrelevant governor.

The connective tissue between the Jindal Foundation and the Jindal Campaign is Alexandra Bautsch. Ms. Bautsch is listed as an officer of the Supriya Jindal Foundation (the New York Times reported her as the Treasurer). She also happens to be a fundraiser for the Jindal campaign, according to her LinkedIn page.

Ms. Bautsch apparently operated as something of a one-stop contribution window for both Jindals. Imagine the outrage (not to mention federal investigations) if Edwin Edwards and one of his wives had tried a similar arrangement!

While some of Jindal's allies have tried to downplay the significance of this story (see Pinsonat's comments in the link above), the fact is that the story solidifies the fact that Jindal operates a pay-to-play administration — exactly what he said he would end with his self-proclaimed ethics 'Gold Standard' reforms passed in the first few days of his term. As it turns out, his 'reforms' have rendered campaign finance laws virtually unenforceable.

In light of what the public has learned about Jindal in the past two weeks, the question must be asked if this wrecking of the campaign finance enforcement regime by Jindal was a deliberate act?

The Governor's pay-to-play ways are catching up with him. Bills are coming due. Too much damage is being done to public and private institutions in this state by the Governor and his policies based on nothing more than a desire to prevent his patrons from paying more taxes and a desire to turn public coffers into funnels directed into the pockets of donors-to-be through privatization.

Having set up the Board of Regents to carry out his wishes, he handed them the work of dismantling SUNO. It was overreach and it laid bare his pay-to-play approach to appointments to boards and commissions. That policy is exactly what he said he was against. It is a direct contradiction of who he said he was.

Jindal's demise as a presidential contender on the national level came after he repeatedly exposed his lack of substance to national audiences. With his ethics mantel having been shattered, the unraveling of his in-state myth has begun. Whether it unravels fast enough to enable his defeat at the polls remains to be seen. But, life is nothing if not unpredictable.

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