There’s a Washington Free Beacon article bouncing around today which has lots of folks in the political world buzzing. It seems that in September of last year Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards took a trip out to Los Angeles to – supposedly – promote the state as a film production destination.
And to collect some Hollywood campaign checks.
But mostly to collect some Hollywood campaign checks.
A flood of California political contributions went to Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards (D.) after he took a taxpayer-funded trip to Los Angeles that he said was aimed at boosting his state’s business relationship with the film industry.
There was no mention of campaign activities when Edwards returned last year from meetings with Hollywood film executives to discuss the state’s motion-picture tax credit. He said the outlook was optimistic for growing the film industry’s presence in Louisiana but had no new projects to announce.
The most immediate impact from the trip, however, was new Hollywood donors for his political campaign.
A review of his most recent campaign filing shows that within a week of Edwards’s trip he received $5,000 from Sony Pictures, $5,000 from Quixote Studios, $5,000 from the Motion Picture Association of America, and $5,000 each from Manhattan Beach Studios and one of its subsidiaries. A month later, the Edwards campaign received an additional $5,000 from Disney and $2,500 from Paramount, the filing shows.
None of the above-mentioned California-based studios had contributed to Edwards before, a review of his past disclosures found. In fact, the $32,500 he received from the studios far exceeded the sum of all other contributions he’s received from California.
Shortly after the trip, Edwards also received $5,000 contributions each from 21st Century Fox and CBS. Although both are headquartered in New York, their executives met with Edwards on his trip to Hollywood.
Documents obtained from the Louisiana State Police through a public records request by the Washington Free Beacon show taxpayers paid at least $5,995.40 for protective services during the trip, including $1,122.40 in overtime.
Edwards spokesman Richard Carbo pushed back on a suggestion from the Louisiana Republican Party that tax dollars paid the bill for the trip, saying he could “confirm that taxpayers did not pay for the [California] trip” and linking to a separate filing for Edwards’s PAC.
The filing shows sizable expenses were billed to the political organization, including a $3,162.19 lodging expense at the SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills and a $309.26 lunch at Commissary at the Line LA. There were also $2,385.60 and $299.96 payments to Delta Airlines for flights to Los Angeles in late September that appear to be for the trip in question.
We can’t say there was anything untoward in how Edwards got taxpayers to pay for his state police detail for what amounts to a campaign trip. If he was out in L.A. flogging changes to the state’s film tax credit program, he can probably justify sticking us with the bill for his fundraising junket.
What we think is a little more interesting is that Edwards hoovered up all that Hollywood money and then signed the fetal heartbeat bill.
You won’t find a pro-life movie executive in the lot among those people who coughed up to Edwards for his re-election campaign. Hollywood is so monolithically pro-abortion as to be tyrannical. And yet Edwards has their money.
It’s worth watching to see whether the film industry swells will sit back and take that, or if they begin squawking about it. It’s a decent bet Edwards’ next trip out to L.A. won’t be quite so productive from a fundraising perspective.
On a related note, Edwards just took a trip up to New York Monday, for “meetings…”
— Greg Hilburn (@GregHilburn1) June 16, 2019
What’s worth watching is his next campaign finance statement, or perhaps the one after, to see if he gets any campaign checks from New Yorkers.
Why? Because Edwards is still bound, until 30 days after the legislative session has ended, from engaging in campaign fundraising by state law. There is a blackout on elected officials for the purpose of preventing them from directly selling their votes – or in Edwards’ case, his decision whether to veto bills.
But if he’s in New York for “meetings,” and it just so happens that people he’s met with turn him loose campaign checks, perhaps we can just believe that they were so impressed with the small-town lawyer from Amite, Louisiana who’s shrunk Louisiana’s economy more often than he’s grown it and who’s set a half-billion tax dollars on fire by signing ineligible people up for Medicaid that they couldn’t resist the temptation to contribute to his re-election.
Edwards has demanded the people of Louisiana believe much more obvious lies than that, so why not?