You may have seen the op-ed the governor published in the friendly pages of the Baton Rouge Advocate today, in which John Bel Edwards takes a hard poke at Louisiana’s attorney general…
While I don’t respond to every political attack, I will respond to the attorney general’s latest accusations.
First, people deserve second chances. We all make mistakes and should have the opportunity to learn from them. End of story. That should have been Landry’s response regarding his hiring decisions. The story would be over.
Second, I could not be happier to work alongside Jay Dardenne to lead Louisiana out of the largest budget deficit in the history of our state. He is, by far, the most qualified public servant to help stabilize our state after years of mismanagement. The fact that Dardenne chose to support me and put Louisiana first in the last election is a testament to his desire to make this state a better place and his willingness to set aside partisanship.
We fight every day to put the people of this state first. With his remarks, the attorney general is trying to revive the bitter partisan, politics-as-usual mentality that voters rejected last November.
Even more troubling is the attorney general’s repeated, disingenuous effort to politicize legislation from the session regarding sanctuary cities. He is misrepresenting both my views and the facts, while also ignoring local officials from across Louisiana who found real problems in the details of his legislation. I have said repeatedly that I support the concept of that bill, but there were serious issues, legal and otherwise, in the bill that needed to be addressed. These were issues that he should have been aware of in the first place, and I said so publicly at the time.
More troubling than that, however, was the fact that his crusade in support of this bill appears to have been nothing more than a charade. I believe that true commitment means that you take a stand and see the fight through. Yet, after weeks of grandstanding, on the final day of the bill’s hearings, he was absent from the state — raising questions about his commitment to the issue.
And then the punch line…
As a state, we continue to deal with the disastrous consequences of politicians spending their time and resources focusing on a job they want, rather than the one they were elected to do. It’s time for the attorney general to refocus his attention on his post, and less on politically-motivated attacks. I continue to be willing to work with him on any and all issues, but I will not sit idly by and let his politics get the best of this great state. Louisiana has had enough of that. It’s time we all work together to rebuild and grow.
Caught that? He castigates Landry for “politically-motivated attacks,” in an op-ed he publishes in the capital city’s newspaper trashing him.
This, following Jay Dardenne’s accusation earlier in the week that the reason Landry doesn’t get along with Edwards has to do with “double-dipping.” Dardenne accused Landry of trying to get both a vehicle allowance and a mileage allowance as attorney general, when in fact all Landry, who has never worked in state government before, did was to write a letter asking the Commissioner of Administration what arrangements were available.
“He made a request of me that I refused,” Dardenne said. “He was essentially double dipping on a request for an automobile allowance. … I told him, ‘No, it would be one or the other.’ I don’t think he appreciated that.”
Landry’s camp hotly disputes Dardenne’s accusation, and the letter he wrote to Dardenne doesn’t jive with the latter’s characterization. And Landry never “double-dipped” at all; he never received a dime from the state until his options were clarified and he chose a mileage allowance.
Which would be the kind of thing a functional state government led by a governor truly interested in “working together to rebuild and grow” would leave out of the newspapers.
But of course, that isn’t what we have.
Landry has set himself up as the chief critic of the Edwards administration within state government, so some of this is clearly pushback one could expect. But Edwards imposed a massive cut to the attorney general’s budget this year – nearly 20 percent from the 2015-16 fiscal budget – and has given every bit as much as he’s gotten.
The only real explanation of the rancor is that Edwards sees Landry as the most likely opponent facing him in 2019, and believes he has to damage or destroy Landry before then in order to be re-elected.
But if all he has is car allowances, low-level hires of qualified employees with 20-year-old legal problems and petty accusations in newspaper op-eds, is Edwards really doing Landry more damage than he’s doing to himself?