We’ve covered this issue a bit at the Hayride, but we’re likely to cover a lot more of it as time goes by – because it’s a big deal, and it’s probably the single biggest red flag as to how irredeemably corrupt our Democrat governor really is.
Taylor Townsend, the former state representative and campaign-finance bag man for John Bel Edwards (Townsend is running Edwards’ PAC, and he was also co-chair of his transition team), is a criminal-defense and slip-and-fall plaintiff attorney in Natchitoches. He has zero qualifications to run any kind of large litigation involving environmental damage. And yet Edwards put him in charge of building what’s essentially a Dirty Half-Dozen – a group of lawyers, nearly all of whom were big money men backing Edwards’ gubernatorial campaign – to serve as a private legal team for the governor in hopes of siphoning a torrent of cash out of the oil and gas industry.
Here’s the video. We have more following it.
Earlier this week there was a great piece by David Blackmon at Forbes putting this entire escapade in the proper perspective…
But the budget fight was just a side show: the biggest impact the election of Mr. Edwards means to the people of Louisiana and anyone doing business in the state will, if the Governor gets his way, mean a state government of trial lawyers, by trial lawyers and for trial lawyers. In his zeal to hit the state’s oil and gas industry for billions of dollars in damages via litigation that would hold the industry almost solely accountable for South Louisiana’s land subsidence problems (an absurd notion that we’ll discuss in a bit), Gov. Edwards has taken to awarding contracts to his trial lawyer cronies who largely funded his campaign that would have them effectively unseating the state attorney general’s office and becoming the official counsel in the litigation for over half of the state’s agencies.
As mentioned above, the logic behind the coastal restoration lawsuit itself is breathtakingly absurd. Blaming the oil and gas industry for the land subsidence issues plaguing the Louisiana Delta region is like blaming a 3 pack-a-day smoker’s case of lung cancer on the smoke coming from the barbecue restaurant half a mile away. Sure, the barbecue smoke might have been a very slight contributing factor, but there is far, far larger elephant sitting smack dab in the middle of this living room.
In this case, that elephant’s name is the Army Corps of Engineers, which has overseen the design and construction of the state’s intricate system of levees along the Mississippi River for almost a century now. That levee system does a decent job of enabling a growing population to live in the Delta region, but by preventing the Mississippi’s periodic flooding, it has at the same time denied the region the naturally occurring silting processes that created the land and made the region inhabitable in the first place. The entire delta region is subsiding precisely because it so rarely floods.
The lawsuits attempt to claim that oil and gas development over the last century in the region is the cause, a claim that is ridiculous on its face. While it seems at least possible that the industry’s activities could have contributed in a very minor way to the overall issue, it must at the same time be pointed out that every activity undertaken by the industry in the region had to be permitted by the very state that is now suing for damages.
This is like your local highway patrolman saying “hey, it’s seriously ok for you to go 70 mph in this 60 mph speed zone. Go ahead, do it”, and then chasing you down and giving you a ticket for doing so. When that happens, how are you ever going to trust that highway patrolman again?
To carry the analogy more specifically, the highway patrolman then proceeds to shake you down for the fine right there at the traffic stop – because Edwards has reportedly been engaging in “discussions” with some of the defendants in these coastal lawsuits in an effort to secure multi-billion dollar settlements. That’s highly unlikely to happen, because the suits have zero merit – for the reasons Blackmon states. The only effect will be to put Louisiana’s oil patch last on the list of localities which are re-energized if and when the price of oil rises enough to get domestic drilling going again.
So that should be familiar – elect a Democrat, and he’ll proceed to shake down private business for bribes and extortion money – the effect on the state’s economy be damned.
Landry, the attorney general who actually cares about fighting corruption and whose involvement in these coastal suits has largely consisted of finding ways to wind them down before they do too much damage to the oil industry in the state, is the proper legal actor on behalf of Louisiana’s government. He was elected by the people of the state just like Edwards was. Constitutional governmental principles indicate that if Edwards wants to get involved in these coastal lawsuits from Baton Rouge he’s going to need Landry’s assent; he doesn’t have it. So, in a fashion reminiscent of Barack Obama, he’s acting extralegally to impose his will – and in doing so Louisiana now faces a constitutional crisis over whether Landry has the power as the Attorney General to stop these contracts.
Don’t complain about this. This is what you voted for. If you actually thought you could elect a Democrat governor of Louisiana without the lawlessness, corruption and hostility to the private sector a Democrat carries as deer carry Lyme disease or mosquitoes carry malaria, then you’re a fool. And 55 percent of you chose to put this man in office.