By Mark J Landry
It is easy to see Louisiana’s transformation from a Democratic state to a Republican state. Over the last 20 years, Republican candidates have won seats in the state legislature, state executive office, United States congressional seats, and even a United State Senate seat -which was not held by a Republican since 1883. Even in presidential elections, the state has not gone to the Democratic candidate since 1996. It is safe to say: “Louisiana is a “Red State,” but there is one office which has eluded Republicans… the Senate seat held by Mary Landrieu.
In 2008, John McCain beat Barack Obama by a 18.6% margin -with 1,960,761 total voters. On the same day in the same voting booths, Mary Landrieu Beat John Kennedy by a margin of 6.39% -with 1,896,574 voters. But comparing a presidential election and a senatorial election is tantamount to comparing apples and oranges for the simple fact senatorial elections are closer to the populous. The power wheeled by a senator -especially an incumbent senator- can directly affect the populous through social and economic means. In Louisiana, the largest economic engine is its natural resources -oil and natural gas, climate and soil conditions, and natural water outlets,- and major industry leaders will lend support based upon the political influence to give them the best economic rewards. In the case of Mary Landrieu, her position on the Senate committees on Appropriations and chair of the Appropriations subcommittee on Homeland Security, Energy and Natural Resources, and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, offers industry leaders, in Louisiana, a political resource to both grow business and improve their personal fiscal situation.
In a July 29, 2007, Times-Picayune article entitled, “Landrieu donor list getting redder,” the article shows the drop-off in liberal donors during Landrieu’s senate tenure, then highlights the gaining of Republican donors to help fill the void. The two prominent donors highlighted were: Otto Candies Jr, CEO of Candies LLC, who donated $1,000 to Suzanne Haik Terrell -Landrieu’s 2002 opponent,- but gave Landrieu $4,500; and Robert Boh, President of Boh Brothers Construction, who once donated $2,000 to Woody Jenkins -Landrieu’s 1996 opponent,- but gave Landrieu $4,700 in 2002 and $3,600 in 2007 for her 2008 campaign.
The Times-Picayune fails to mention the possible reason these donors switched support to Landrieu. Both companies benefited and continue to benefit from government contracts issued through the same committees which Landrieu is a member. Landrieu’s membership on Appropriations, which is charged with the allocation of government funds (tax revenue) through legislation and contracts, allows her to make personal recommendations on which companies receive government monies. The contracts given to Boh Brothers came through the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, and the Contracts give to Otto Candies came through the U.S. Coast Guard: whereas, both federal entities are part of the Department of Homeland Security, which funding starts at the Appropriations subcommittee on Homeland Security currently chaired by Landrieu.
The defections continue with an Advocate article entitled, “Landrieu doubles fundraising dollars,” on May 16, 2013, which reports Landrieu has gained the support of Boysie Bollinger, CEO of Bollinger Shipyards Inc and former chairman of the state Republican Party. What is unreported is the $250 million contract awarded to Bollinger Shipyards to build six Fast Response Cutters for the Coast Guard, announced on Landrieu’s senate web page on September 21, 2012. Landrieu even went to the Lockport facility to award the contract, personally.
Then, there is the major conflict of interest with Acadian Ambulance Services, which was awarded multiple contracts with the Department of Veterans Affairs. The president of Acadian Ambulance is also the president of Friends of Mary Landrieu, Landrieu’s campaign PAC. During Landrieu’s career, Acadian Ambulance has given a total of $83,319(opensecrets.org) for her campaigns.
It is not hard to understand why the Republican party is having a hard time against Mary Landrieu. She, like many sitting Senators, use her power and influence in government to give taxpayer-funded gifts to her donors. Landrieu has a long history of voting against the people of Louisiana, yet she uses the same people who funds her campaigns. Landrieu’s practices need to be, and will be exposed, because Louisiana deserves adequate representation within the US Senate.