Stonecipher On Alario Selection: A Sad Day For Louisiana

Shreveport pollster and political analyst Eliot Stonecipher sent out a stinging missive to his e-mail list yesterday expressing outrage at the announcement of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s support for Edwin Edwards crony and ethically-challenged John Alario for Senate President. We thought we’d share it as an indication that we at the Hayride aren’t the only ones disgusted at this shocking betrayal of the principles the governor has claimed to promote in Louisiana…

Even readers in other states may have already heard that Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal – just elected to his second term – today announced his choice for President of our state senate. Although it is the Senate’s duty and responsibility to choose its leader, our governor wants to make certain his preference is known by any potentially wayward senators, especially those newly elected this past Saturday. Historically, the governor’s “suggestion” becomes the fact, notwithstanding Governor Jindal’s specific, earlier proclamation that he would lead the state away from such interference by the governor in the legislature’s business.

His choice is long-time Louisiana professional politician, John Alario. Other than former governor Edwin Edwards, no Louisiana political leader more perfectly personifies the consummate backroom politico. For those of us who have been around Louisiana politicians for multiple decades, no recitation of Mr. Alario’s record and history is necessary. For everyone else, suffice it to say that he has been one of the sharpest operators – and that’s not a compliment – in the Louisiana legislature throughout his career. Elected a bit past Bobby Jindal’s first birthday, Alario quickly rose to leadership in the Democrat Party, the party he faithfully served for 37 of his 40 years in office. Here’s a wiki version of his bio.

To me, and to many others with my tenure, John Alario is easily recognizable as the last active political leader of the Edwin Edwards era, a dark and painful chapter in our state’s history. That Governor Jindal picks him for such a key leadership position just after Mr. Edwards’ recent prison release is ironic, yes, but more to the point, deeply troubling and disheartening. Any claim by Governor Jindal that Louisiana has by his service turned the corner in “ethics” or anything else positive is, by our governor’s personal action, now loudly refuted. Our governor’s unreserved pride in this selection is, well, incomprehensible.

The bizarre nature of this action stands in stark contrast to the view of Mr. Alario by the Republican Party of Louisiana at the same time the governor was elected a mere four years ago: You Tube here.

[NOTE: We have been informed that the Republican Party of Louisiana video may have been pulled-down on the order of those opposing its public and/or news media viewing. We trust that all interested members of the media will conduct their own search for this highly condemning video as it was originally and broadly released in 2007, and available on You Tube until today’s announcement by Governor Jindal.]

Now, a much more personal view.

For many years I’ve worked in various ways – all pro bono – to improve the content and enforcement of Louisiana’s political and governmental ethics code. The relatively few gains made along the way were destroyed, times ten at least, by a team assembled and politically promoted and protected by Governor Jindal. That group included legislative leaders with ethics complaints in the pipeline against them as they worked so diligently to eviscerate the enforcement of Louisiana’s ethics laws. My personal knowledge of all related details has been shared with most of you over the past four years. No facts I’ve shared have been challenged, by anyone. No matter how awfully our ethics regime has faltered over the past four years, Governor Jindal has not taken one step – not a single one – to undo his damage.

In order to promote his supposed chance to be the Vice Presidential nominee of the Republican Party in the 2008 election, our governor declared – “named and claimed” as many here refer to it – his establishment of an “Ethics Gold Standard” in Louisiana. Nothing could have been further from the truth.

The governor’s choice of John Alario for this key leadership position – virtually certain to be agreed to by a majority of state senators – is the period at the end of the sentence about our governor’s “ethics gold standard” claim. The story is over. Gov. Jindal’s claim was and is bogus.

I was born in Louisiana. I was educated in our public schools from the first grade through my graduate degree. I married and reared a son here. I started and, thank Goodness, succeeded in business and career here. So, I can say this simply: this is a sad day for me … and for Louisiana.



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