Bureaucrats, Dem Donors, And Even A Dem State Rep Signed St. John Bel’s ‘Veterans Letter’

St. John Bel and his allies are at it again trying to pretend rent seekers, left-wing hacks, and bureaucrats are just ordinary Louisianians. This time he gathered some of them, who happened to be veterans, to sign a letter attacking Vitter on veterans’ issues. Among the signers were some Democrat donors, a couple of bureaucrats, and a rent seeking Purple Heart recipient.

Here’s the letter and the signers (note, it seems spelling is not a strong suit of the John Bel Edwards campaign):

Dear Senator Vitter:

Elections are about choices.  The race for Louisiana’s next governor is no different.  Our state is home to some of the bravest men and women who have served this country.

For months, John Bel Edwards has been under relentless attack from you and your SuperPACs. We applaud him for exposing your abysmal record on veteran’s issues.  For years, you have denied support for Louisiana’s veterans and their families. John Bel’s latest ad, and this election, isn’t about one military family.  It’s about all service members and their families who’ve been ignored by you.

Your record warrants scrutiny, but as with most questions posed to you, we get no answers. The veterans of Louisiana, and this country, deserve more. Senator Vitter:

  • Why did you miss the vote referenced in John Bel’s latest ad honoring those service members who paid the ultimate price?
  • Why did you vote against providing additional health care for service members deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan?
  • Why did you vote to reduce payments to surviving spouses of military personnel?

Senator Vitter, in all of your Washington double talk following the ad, you have not addressed a a single question it raises.  That’s what’s most concerning.

We stand behind John Bel Edwards because no one knows the struggle of our veterans and military veterans than a service member himself.  We urge to apologize to him, to Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne, and PSC Scott Angelle for the hateful, misleading ads your campaign has consistently run throughout this election.




Joey Strickland, U.S. Army Lt. Colonel Retired

Walker, LA


Richard O’Brien, U.S. Navy

Purple Heart Recipient

Denham Springs, LA


Paul Hiestand, Staff Sergent, US Army Retired Iraq Veteran

Denham Springs, LA


Joseph Strickland, U.S. Army Desert Storm Veteran

Livingston, Louisiana


Chad Chapman, U.S. Army Iraq Veteran

Natchitoches, LA


Jack Montoucet, U.S. Marines Corps

Served in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam conflict

Crowley, LA


Carol Duplechin, U.S. Marine Corp

Served in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam conflict

Church Point, LA

Mike Vicari, U.S. Army Iraq Veteran

Denham Springs, LA


Al Cochran, U.S. Army Vietnam Veteran, Cpt.

Lake Charles, LA


Eddie Kineson, Master Sergeant, U.S Army Retired

Vietnam Veteran

Lake Charles, LA


Tanya Whitney, Master Sergeant, U.S. Army Retired

Gonzales, LA


Willie Banks, Colonel, U.S. Army Retired

Leesville, Louisiana


Ken Epperson, U.S. Army

Vietnam Veteran

Shreveport, Louisiana


Some of these people are actively involved in veterans issues, but some of these people are frankly not. Meanwhile, you have to ask questions about some of these signers.

For example, we have a couple of bureaucrats signing it. Paul Hiestand is currently working for DHH as an assistant administrator of Villa Feliciana. Either that, or the DHH needs to update the website.

Another bureaucrat who signed it was Joey Strickland, a former director of the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs. Many vets have mixed feelings on Strickland and blame him for many of the current problems in LDVA. After Strickland left LDVA, he went to Arizona and took over their VA. Strickland was fired by then Governor Jan Brewer for hiring a staffer he was explicitly told not to hire. Strickland then begged for his job back and Brewer told him to pound sand. Word on the street is that St. John Bel has already promised him his old job back.

Another curious signer was Richard O’Brien. This is a guy who received the Purple Heart for his service. However, he has turned into a venue for rent seeking from the state for veterans. While we as a country and state owe veterans a lot and we should thank them for their service by providing for their education and healthcare, O’Brien was asking for a bit much. O’Brien pushed for a constitutional amendment that would double the already insane homestead exemption for disabled veterans. The problem with these kinds of special exemptions is that it unfairly shifts the burden of taxation to others, in this case small businesses and other homeowners.

Finally, O’Brien was involved with an attempt by his local chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart to solicit state funds. The money asked wasn’t unreasonable and it’s a more worthy cause than the Purple Circle Social Club, but it’s not the job of state government to make charitable contributions. The MOPH is a tax-exempt organization and donations qualify for tax deductions. They could’ve raised the money from local business or through crowdfunding. It’s a cause that I personally would’ve donated to. But despite the valiant service of O’Brien and his fellow MOPH members, they do not have the moral right to use the power of the state of Louisiana to coerce their fellow Louisianians to donate to their organization.

Jack Montoucet is a Democrat state rep who has never met a tax and spending increase that he doesn’t like. He, along with St. John Bel and their fellow House Democrats, tried to force a $450 million cut in higher education on the last day of the legislative session this year because the House approved the SAVE Act. The SAVE Act was Louisiana’s first ever statutory dedication protecting higher education funding. Montoucet left the Capitol and refused to move his bill, raising utility taxes, in spite.

Ken Epperson and Willie Banks have both donated money to Democrat candidates this election cycle including to Barbara Norton in the case of Epperson. We would be shocked if these two didn’t support John Bel.

What we have here are a bunch of signers who maybe motivated to act on veteran’s issues, but are also trying to protect their special interest rice bowls. Louisiana’s special interests are going to war against David Vitter because he’s going to come and break those rice bowls. This is just like the sanctimonious trial lawyers funding Gumbo PAC because they don’t want tort reform.



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