This has turned into something of a sore subject in a number of quarters, but over the weekend Eddie Rispone’s campaign managed to score a small victory over the trial lawyer-and-Democrat Governor’s Association-funded Gumbo PAC which unleashed highly dishonest attack ads against both Rispone and Ralph Abraham last week.
The Gumbo PAC ad against Rispone claimed he’s a deadbeat employer who doesn’t pay his workers, and also claimed that while Rispone talks tough about illegal immigration he uses “foreign workers” at the expense of Louisiana citizens on his jobsites – a pretty obvious insinuation that he hires illegals, which is a lie as we’ll discuss below.
Rispone didn’t put up with that false attack and went to the state’s TV stations in protest, and won that round.
A political organization supporting Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has tweaked a TV ad slamming one of the Democrat’s opponents, amid claims the ad was misleading.
Gumbo PAC has slightly reworked a 30-second spot attacking Republican candidate Eddie Rispone, after Rispone’s campaign complained to TV stations.
The original ad airing around Louisiana claimed Rispone repeatedly failed to pay employees and their medical bills at his industrial contracting business. The reworked spot changes the narration to explain that Rispone has been “sued time and again” over those issues.
Rispone’s campaign is promoting the ad change, calling the original spot “demonstrably false” because it presented allegations from lawsuits as though they are facts.
In a statement, Gumbo PAC’s Trey Ourso didn’t explain why the ad was tweaked, but defended the content.
The fact is, Trey Ourso is about as complete a liar as it’s possible to be. Nothing about the content of the ad – including the “tweaked” version they re-released so as not to get sued – is remotely close to the truth.
What the ad talks about are a few lawsuits in which some employees of ISC Contractors, Rispone’s industrial construction company, sued ISC’s group benefits provider over a dispute about medical bills, and in such lawsuits ISC was named – which is a pro forma issue that happens all the time in these situations. Those suits were settled, as they always are, and it’s the kind of thing that often happens when running a business with thousands of employees.
And the ad also made the allegation that Rispone took advantage of the federal H1-B visa program to hire “foreign workers” over Louisianans – but the way it was framed unmistakably leaves the impression that he’s hiring illegal aliens, which would make Rispone a hypocrite given his TV commercials talking tough about immigration. This is bogus on a couple of levels.
First, the illegal bit. When we raised the objection last week that the implication was unfair, Rispone’s camp was unhappy with us because they wanted to fight the ad on its own terms, namely the H1-B visa issue. That’s just a philosophical difference we have with them, because Joe Six Pack of Bunkie, Louisiana generally couldn’t care less about H1-B visas but he definitely would be perturbed about illegals, and Trey Ourso knows it. You wouldn’t waste money making a big deal about H1-B visas; you would if you could slime Rispone as a hirer of illegals, and you particularly would if, like Ourso, you are 100 percent comfortable putting your name on abject lies on behalf of a political client.
It’s understandable that Rispone’s camp wouldn’t want the discussion to go anywhere near the subject of illegals, but our take was that’s where Ourso and Gumbo PAC were dragging it, and we didn’t want them getting away with it without calling them out.
And while we’re friendly observers where both GOP gubernatorial campaigns are concerned, we’re just that – observers. We’re not on either side of that fight, at least not until the runoff.
But even within the box of the actual allegation Gumbo PAC made, and leaving out the larger implication of their claims, the ad is bovine scatology. The “foreign workers” Rispone hired were, as we understand it, LSU graduates in most of the cases. If a kid from Spain or Italy or the Philippines graduates from LSU and gets hired at ISC, does any Louisiana voter have a problem with that? Of course not, but Ourso takes pains not to tell that story.
To fully grasp the dishonesty of the ad you need to understand the kind of work ISC does. ISC stands for “Industrial Specialty Contractors” – meaning they do advanced construction work. Like, for example, if you’re building an oil refinery you’d hire ISC to install the instrumentation and controls hardware, or to set up the power distribution in the facility. That isn’t the kind of work you go out and hire unskilled or semi-skilled people for, and it’s definitely not the kind of work illegals have the skill set for.
It’s debatable how many Louisianans have that skill set. We’re talking about some pretty highly-skilled and highly-paid positions you generally need to be a college graduate, or at least a technical school graduate, to be able to handle. So any fair-minded person wouldn’t bat an eye over the idea that skilled people who went to LSU and are already in the country would get hired by ISC and then use the H1-B paperwork to make sure the hire is legal.
Garbage like this is why business people generally don’t get into politics in Louisiana, which is one reason why Louisiana politicians generally stink at making good things happen for the state. The current governor, whose re-election effort Gumbo PAC is shilling for, is a trial lawyer who spent two years as a back-bencher in the Louisiana House of Representatives when he wasn’t doing slip-and-fall cases at the courthouse back in Amite, and in his four years in the governor’s mansion Louisiana’s private sector economy is completely down the tubes with the worst job creation in the country thanks to tax hikes, regulatory policy and a septic legal climate. Cleaning up John Bel Edwards’ mess is something most businesspeople would look upon as a high-risk, low-reward project not worth the effort and expense, which is why so few get into politics and, worse, so many are just opting not to stay in Louisiana at all.
Which is why Rispone ought to be commended for making the effort on the part of the people of the state to at least present himself as an option to the voters. It’s disheartening that his reward is to be lied about by the Trey Oursos of the world.