Mary, Champion For Louisiana?

August 20, 2013

By Mark J. Landry

On her campaign website, Mary Landrieu proudly states, “Fighting and Winning for Louisiana.” It is good to think a politician is truly fighting for their constituents; whereas, Louisiana -like the rest of the country- was hit hard by the “Great Recession” and the aftermath of the BP oil spill, causing a current unemployment rate of 7% (Department of Labor). As Louisiana’s residents struggle to find employment, Landrieu is fighting for campaign donations at the cost of Louisiana jobs.

Louisiana is blessed with natural harbors which allows a major shipbuilding industry along its coast, and there is no bigger name in the industry than Avondale shipyard. In a March 28, 2012, Associated Press article entitled, “Avondale Shipyard still on track for closure, CEO says,” the major employer in Southeastern Louisiana was sold by its parent company Northrop Grumman -in 2011- to Huntington Ingalls in order to close it. As of March 2012, the workforce was reduced from 5,000 to 3,300 employees, and by the end of 2013, the shipyard will close completely.

A sale like Avondale Shipyard does not just happen, both companies and their lobbyist must seek out political allies before an agreement can go forward. Because Mary Landrieu is a member of the Senate committee on Appropriations, and has been for most of her senate career, she already had a close relationship with Northrop Grumman -a major defense contractor. This is evidenced by the $14,000 donated to Landrieu as of July 29, 2013, in the 2009 to 2014 election cycle, and the $51,550 total given by Northrop Grumman over Landrieu’s career. (Federal Election Commission.)

Huntington Ingalls did not directly donate to Landrieu, rather they employed the lobbyist firm Patton Boggs, who is also employed by Northrop Grumman. Huntington Ingalls expenses to Patton Boggs, as of July 29,2013, was $120,000 (Senate Office of Public Records.) Patton Boggs is a major donor to the Landrieu campaign, with $24,800 already given in this election cycle.

Avondale’s closing will coincide with the closing of a major employer in South Central Louisiana. Like Avondale, the McDermott Fabrication Yard is slated to close by the end of 2013. The McDermott yard spans 300 acres along Bayou Boeuf in Amelia, has over 350 employees from across the region, and is the economic engine for the small communities in the four parishes which surround the fabrication yard.

This McDermott fabrication yard is part of the multinational McDermott International, and like the closing of Avondale, the fabrication yard would not be allowed to close without a political ally. McDermott International has a history of donating primarily to Republican candidates, but made a $15,000 donation to Landrieu’s campaign, as of a March 25, 2013, Federal Election Commission report.

Money is the life blood of politics. In an age of multimillion dollar campaigns, the candidate with the most money usually gets elected. But Landrieu’s fund raising may have cost thousands of Louisiana jobs. If this is how Mary Landrieu fights and wins for Louisiana, it is time we send a new champion to Washington.


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