“A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.”
Governor-elect John Bel Edwards parlayed this honor code to a successful finish in the Louisiana Governor’s race. He opined that his opponent was (could not live by this code) “a liar, a cheater, and a stealer and I don’t tolerate that.” Additionally, the Governor-elect looked Louisiana in the eye and promised of his pro-life and pro-family values, “I will not disappoint you.”
Based on his representations to the public that he would operate by the honor code and his personal pro-life and pro-family values, Louisiana voters chose him overwhelmingly to be Louisiana’s next governor.
Considering that platform, some of Edwards’ post-election actions are puzzling and dissonant. Take for example his choice for Commissioner of Administration, former Senator Jay Dardenne, who earned a 65% lifetime rating with the Louisiana Family Forum. According to Louisiana Right to Life, he had a 62% pro-life record during his tenure in the Legislature.
Additionally, The Times Picayune has Edwards on record as pledging to sign an LGBT friendly executive order. This would be in line with the efforts that have been used to penalize bakers, florists, photographers and adoption agencies for simply believing that natural marriage is a concept that may be freely exercised at work. How is this order in line with Edwards’ platform?
Now, news outlets are reporting that Edwards is backing State Representative Walt Leger to be the next House Speaker. Leger is a very talented and affable guy, but he is neither pro-life nor pro-family. Leger has earned a grade of 65% with Louisiana Right to Life, but his poor score does not begin to tell the whole story. The grade does not take into account that Leger strategically opted to abstain in 9 out of the last 15 major pro-life votes. Over that same time frame, Leger voted for government-funded abortions (Amendment 87A of HB 1247 (2010)), against defunding Planned Parenthood (HCR 11, (2012); HCR 54 (2011)), and against conscience protections for health care providers who wish to opt out of participating in abortion procedures (HB 517 (2009)). On other social issues, Leger has been hit or miss as well, receiving a 45.6% lifetime rating from Louisiana Family Forum. Earlier this year, he voted for voluntary sex education for third graders (HB 359 (2015)).
Meanwhile, the other prospective candidate for House Speaker, Rep. Cameron Henry, has a perfect 100% lifetime grade from Louisiana Right to Life and a 93.3% with LFF. And yet… a “pro-life” governor-elect has chosen a pro-choice speaker of the house. Puzzled? Me too. Especially when the other candidate is 100% pro-life.
Sadly, these decisions are not in line with the honor code or the platform that John Bel Edwards ran on. Instead, they are in line with a political code that we are all too familiar with: say whatever is necessary in order to get elected.
Make no mistake, the House Speaker is extremely powerful. He appoints every committee, chair and membership, and assigns every bill to a friendly or hostile committee, making way for the 4th floor (Governor’s office) to filter the will of the majority.
I sincerely hope the 105 members of the House of Representatives, who often concur with LFF on distinctively Louisiana values, will simply say “No thank you” to Mr. Edwards’ Speaker pick and will instead help him fulfill his honor code in choosing a House Speaker who is actually pro-family and pro-life.
I encourage the people of Louisiana to contact their legislators and respectfully request that Louisiana values are embraced in casting a vote for House Speaker.