If you missed John Bel Edwards’ press conference today, he gleefully popped off about yesterday’s tempest in a teapot over the Senate District 16 race and Lane Grigsby’s prospective offer to Franklin Foil to drop out in the event of a tie, something that turned out not to be needed when Foil won the recount in the race.
Gov. John Bel Edwards on Thursday blasted GOP donor Lane Grigsby as a “puppet master” for trying to convince a state senate candidate to drop out of a potential three-way runoff by offering funding for a future run for a judgeship, calling the offer “inappropriate” and “illegal.”
“Had it been a private conversation between himself and Rep. Foil it would be wrong,” Edwards said during a press conference on Medicaid Thursday outside an emergency room in north Baton Rouge. “The idea that he would do it openly–because it is illegal–but it shows you the mentality that he has, what he believes his place in Louisiana to be.”
Edwards called Grigsby a “puppet master calling the shots with Eddie Rispone,” and said Rispone’s relationship with Grigsby “speaks volumes about how dangerous” Rispone would be if elected.
First of all, when this race is over and Edwards is packed off back to Amite where he came from, and he takes up his old law practice, a word of advice – whatever you do, don’t hire this guy for legal representation, because he might just be the worst lawyer in Louisiana. We say this not just because of the skulldraggings he’s taken in legal warfare with Attorney General Jeff Landry’s office through the years but because he’s categorically wrong that offering to support a candidate for an elective office is an illegal inducement to withdraw from a race.
It isn’t. American citizens have a First Amendment right to support candidates for political office, and were the state statute making it illegal to bribe candidates out of political races stretched to include such offers that statute would be unconstitutional.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for something that would be a bright-line violation of that statute, there is the $10,000 in a cash bribe allegedly offered to Omar Dantzler in 2015 as an incentive to get him out of the race for sheriff of Tangipahoa Parish in 2015. Dantzler refused the money and ran against Daniel Edwards, the governor’s brother who has held that position since 2003.
Maybe John Bel Edwards will content himself to be silent on this question in the future, seeing as though it appears he’s putting his brother in legal jeopardy by accusing others of engaging in conduct nowhere near a bright-line violation of the law as that Daniel was accused of.
Particularly when John Bel Edwards didn’t think so terribly of Grigsby that he shook him down for $5,000 in campaign contributions back in August of 2015 (see the bottom of page 86 of the report at the link). Guess that relationship soured after the fact, and it might well be that Grigsby regrets having coughed up that check.
Either way, we’ve established that the governor has zero room to talk about what a terrible influence on Louisiana politics Lane Grigsby is. Just like everything else that comes out of his mouth and his camp lately, this was pure bilge.