Vitter Sure Seems To Have All The Right Enemies

You may have noticed that last week a whole bunch of people commenced to yapping about how terrible David Vitter is. One almost wonders how he could ever have gotten elected to anything in the first place.

The most prominent cause of the yapping was the ad Vitter put out accusing John Bel Edwards of promising to release 5,500 criminals from Louisiana’s jails, which would be more than 10 percent of the state’s prison population. Edwards whined that Vitter was completely taking him out of context in the ad, despite the fact there is video of him making that promise, and that the initiatives he’s touting in an effort to reduce the prison population are things like drug courts and pre-trial diversion programs aimed at keeping non-violent dopeheads and the like out of our prisons. Edwards says those initiatives have been commenced in conservative states like Texas and South Carolina, so what he’s proposing isn’t the same as President Obama’s plan to release 6,000 inmates from federal prisons.

And Edwards’ pals, like for example James Carville, at whose home in Virginia Edwards attended a $1,000-a-plate Democrat Governors’ Association fundraiser late last week, have gone ballistic about how misleading and “racist” the ad is.

Carville combined a couple of logical fallacies in his attack on Vitter and the likelihood that the Senator will be picking up the endorsement of LABI this week…

“I have watched with growing alarm and dismay as Senator David Vitter has stooped to new lows in his desperate attempts to discredit the exemplary military and public service record of Rep. John Bel Edwards. I can no longer just watch. As a lifelong Louisianan, I must speak out.

“Columnists and political observers from conservative Jim Beam of the Lake Charles American Press to the more liberal Bob Mann of the New Orleans Times-Picayunehave called out Sen. Vitter for his racially charged, vicious, dishonest TV ad that distorts Rep. Edwards’s support of bipartisan incarceration reform efforts. The ad is not only dishonest, but it also contradicts a direct statement that Sen. Vitter himself made in the Oct. 1 WDSU-TV debate. In that debate, Sen. Vitter joined every other candidate in the governor’s race in endorsing prison reform by saying, ‘We warehouse way too many nonviolent criminals in Louisiana.’ So now Sen. Vitter can add hypocrisy to the new lows of his campaign.

“A big endorsement coming this week for David Vitter may be from the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, one of the most pro-Jindal organizations in the state and the group most committed to continuing Bobby Jindal’s policies. Endorsing Vitter, if LABI chooses to do so, makes perfect political sense for that organization. LABI has every moral, legal and constitutional right to advocate for the continuation of Jindal’s policies. But I would humbly ask LABI to accompany its endorsement with a statement expressing discomfort with Sen. Vitter’s universally condemned ad, and a statement that LABI has received assurances that Sen. Vitter’s future ads will be ideological and not racial in content and tone.

“Louisiana has many pressing problems with our budget, our disappearing coastline, our underfunded hospitals and universities, our dilapidated highways and bridges, our high poverty rate and our need to invest heavily in early childhood education. Let’s not add ‘overcoming Sen. Vitter’s lowbrow campaign’ to that God-awful to-do list.”

First of all, the big difference in Vitter’s position willing to endorse prison reform and the position Edwards has taken which landed him on the wrong side of the ad is Vitter never guaranteed a number of inmates or would-be inmates he was letting out of stir. That’s an important point which needs to be understood – because nobody else who has implemented some of these criminal justice reforms in a responsible manner (and we don’t yet know if any of them are producing concrete results, by the way) went about them with the idea they’d get a set number of criminals out of jail like Edwards did.

And Edwards admitted he concocted that 5,500 number because that’s how many less inmates Louisiana needs to fall below Mississippi in incarceration rates. He has no idea whether there are 5,500 inmates in Louisiana jails who wouldn’t commit crimes if they were let out, and he doesn’t particularly care. When he brings up that 5,500 number he’s flat-out pandering to Democrat constituency groups who believe in all that #BlackLivesMatter business.

Which James Carville, a consummate liar and shill for far more consequential crooks than John Bel Edwards, neglected to point out as he demands LABI distance themselves from a “universally condemned” ad (that is only really universally condemned on the Left) as a caveat to their coming endorsement of Vitter which the candidate he’s raising money for stupidly produced by provoking a fight with LABI last week.

It’s not that Edwards is for reform efforts, it’s that he abuses those reform efforts to make promises of less prisoners. This is neither a small point nor one difficult to understand. The fact that Edwards and Carville both chose to heap charges of racism on Vitter as a result of the ad merely points out that Vitter was right all along in running it – Edwards has promised the black community he’d deliver fewer inmates to prisons in return for its votes, as evidenced by the videotaped speech in which he made that promise at Southern University, but of course for Vitter to point out in an ad that it’s irresponsible to promise 5,500 fewer inmates without studying who those inmates would be and what effect they would have on the communities they’d be released to…that’s racist.

Which is the position the state’s NAACP took. We already know that the NAACP is on board with the #BlackLivesMatter narrative, though, so a good Republican candidate ought to earn their opprobrium and attacks. Which Vitter now has, to his glee. The point his ad makes is a correct one and the reason the Democrats are screaming about it is that it’s effective.

Meantime, another blast from Louisiana’s past has resurfaced to snipe at Vitter. Lawrence Chehardy, the former assessor in Jefferson Parish who achieved election through one of the most crooked political maneuvers possible which made a verb of his name, is now blogging in his political dotage and has commenced to firing broadsides at the Senator. Chehardy penned a piece last week grumbling that Vitter’s campaign tactics are mean and demanding that he expand on his admission of a “serious sin” in his marriage eight years ago.

People outside of Jefferson Parish probably don’t know about the Chehardys, but the father of the one in question, also named Lawrence, had been the assessor there beginning in 1965. For 45 years a Chehardy was the assessor in Jefferson and it was well known among the folks who lived there that if you were connected and friendly with the assessor you could get a great deal on how your property was taxed. The elder Chehardy was one of the leaders of the movement to install the state’s homestead exemption as the highest in the country, which is perhaps the principal infirmity in Louisiana’s tax code keeping state and local budgets in a constant state of instability (by destroying the property tax base with the homestead exemption the local governments have to rely on sales taxes, which vary based on the performance of the economy) – and then proceeded to use the exemption as a tool to do favors for his friends where assessments were concerned.

And when the younger Chehardy was 22 years old and in law school, his father bequeathed him the job. Literally. How? He “pulled a Chehardy;” he was set to run unopposed, and on the last day of qualifying he opted not to run for re-election while fils Chehardy filed his papers. There was one candidate for the job, his name was Chehardy, and he had no qualification for it whatsoever short of his last name.

The younger Chehardy stuck around to continue the family business for 34 years, finally retiring in 2010 while most of the folks atop Jefferson Parish government were under some form of federal investigation. He was never formally in any sort of hot water, though the legal community was full of rumors at the time he suddenly called it quits.

And now Chehardy is taking potshots at Vitter. Which looks a whole lot like the Old Guard griping about the aggressive reformer who, the last time he had a job at the Capitol, brought in term limits for state legislators.

And then there is Jefferson Parish’s current sheriff, Newell Normand. Normand, for those of you not familiar with Jefferson Parish politics, came up as the driver for former sheriff Harry Lee, who for all his fame and notoriety as a crimefighter was also known for running an office rife with corruption.

Normand called Vitter prospectively the “worst governor ever” last week in the wake of a “spy scandal” that frankly suggests he’s got more to hide than Vitter does. After all, Normand was sitting in a wide-open coffee shop with John Cummings, the New Orleans left-wing trial attorney and John Bel Edwards business partner who’s widely suspected of being the anonymous donor paying for the removal of the confederate statues in New Orleans and also suspected of financing the videotaped interview of a woman named Wendy Ellis which surfaced last month and brought back old allegations of Vitter’s marital infidelity, and Danny DeNoux, the private investigator who found Ellis and went with the American Zombie blog’s publisher Jason Berry to record it (it’s been said that DeNoux was Cummings’ bag man to pay for the interview).

And when those three were sitting at the Royal Blend coffeehouse on Metairie Road the Friday before the primary election, and a private investigator hired by the opposition research firm Vitter’s campaign employs recorded their conversation (in public where there is no expectation of privacy), Normand went ballistic upon identifying that the PI was recording them. He confronted the man, chased him out of the coffeehouse and summoned no less than five Jefferson Parish Sheriff deputies to apprehend him. Normand is now desperately trying to charge the investigator with a felony though there is clearly nothing in the law he can make stick.

That’s an awful lot of rancor for one recording of a conversation, isn’t it? It almost sounds like Robert Frenzel, the investigator at the center of the “spy scandal,” got something juicy in that recording.

Normand endorsed Jay Dardenne for governor, and was instrumental, we’re told, in getting John Bel Edwards the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association endorsement last week. There is a reason for that endorsement, and it’s a very simple one. It’s not that Edwards would improve conditions for law enforcement in Louisiana; far from it. Currently, the sheriffs are the ones with their hands around tax collection in Louisiana and Vitter backs efforts to institute a single standard tax collection system in all 64 parishes. That’s an awful lot of power the sheriffs would have to give up, and frankly an awful lot of favors they won’t be able to give. It’s not a surprise they’re not for Vitter.

So far, what seems to be a unifying theme around Vitter’s declared political enemies is they all benefit from antiquated and, in some cases, shady ways of doing business we can associate with the bad old days of Louisiana governance.

There’s an old saying that you can judge a man by who his enemies are. For whatever faults he might have, by that standard Vitter comes out pretty favorably.

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