It’s Johnny Anderson’s World Now, And JBE Has To Live In It

The third-party dollars are really starting to kick in as the Oct. 12 primary for the Louisiana governor’s race approaches, and we’re seeing something we figured we’d see – a parade of kill-shot ads featuring our favorite bureaucratic sexual harasser, former John Bel Edwards deputy chief of staff Johnny Anderson.

You remember Anderson, right? If not, here’s our recent description of his story to bring you back up to speed…

He was Edwards’ deputy chief of staff, hired as a payoff to the black ministers of which somehow Anderson is one, who’d had a somewhat colorful – x-rated would be more descriptive – history in public service. Specifically, Anderson had served in the same position under Edwards’ most recent Democrat gubernatorial predecessor Kathleen Blanco, and also at the time had been the chairman of the board at Southern University. In the latter position Anderson engaged in a series of rather grotesque episodes of sexual harassment, which caused a mini-scandal and a bunch of accusations which were settled in court.

>Everyone knew Anderson was a bad egg, and yet Edwards hired him anyway. The results were predictable – he went right back to his usual routine, aggressively hitting on every female within range and demanding sexual favors as though he was some sort of bureaucratic Harvey Weinstein. It was so bad that Anderson actually sexually harassed one Dylan Waguespack, a lobbyist for the LGBTQ crowd plying that trade on the Fourth Floor who is a (if we get this right) trans man – a biological female living as male. It seems Anderson, who isn’t gay by our information, isn’t enlightened enough to respect the new reality of transgenderism and must have thought to himself “That ain’t no dude!” as he barreled forward with his exploits.

Things went public, a mess was made and Anderson was dispatched after six figures of your tax dollars were distributed to the unfortunate victims of Anderson’s turgid advances. You don’t often get so sexy a campaign issue as to trash Edwards for his overlibidinous staff hires.

Edwards was asked about the Anderson mess in the first televised gubernatorial debate, and he was visibly uncomfortable with the question, botching his answer by claiming Anderson to be a quality public servant and alleging he’d been “exonerated” of his previous pursuits. That made it pretty obvious there was some electoral blood in the water, so it’s really just been a matter of waiting to see the ads drop.

And first in that series came the LAGOP, which dropped a pretty brutal digital ad pushing the Anderson story. But there wasn’t big money behind the state party’s ad, so the politicos and newsies were the only ones who really saw it.

But then came the Republican Governors’ Association, and their messaging is backed by a virtually limitless war chest to push an ad. You can bet there will be six or seven figures behind this…

It’s the RGA’s best ad of the cycle without a doubt, and it dropped this morning.

And finally, the third-party group Truth In Politics has dropped a monster Johnny Anderson ad, this one featuring Juanita Washington, the woman to whom a sizable cash settlement was paid after Anderson groped and harassed her and she lost her job after blowing the whistle on him…

Here’s the release from Truth In Politics that went with the ad…

Today, in a newly released six-figure statewide television campaign from Truth in Politics (TIP), former employee of the Office of the Governor Juanita Washington says Governor John Bel Edwards put her in harm’s way by hiring former Deputy Chief of Staff Johnny Anderson. Washington also said the governor abandoned her when she blew the whistle on Anderson’s unwanted sexual advances.

Washington served the state as executive director of the State Interagency Coordinated Council, and the harassment by Anderson, her direct superior, began during her second interview for the job. In the ad, Washington criticizes Gov. Edwards’ hiring of Anderson, who had been credibly accused of sexual harassment by six women in his previous high-ranking position at Southern University. The governor has falsely claimed that Anderson was exonerated despite a federal judge’s opinion that the victims’ claims had merit and were uncontradicted.

“I worked in the Office of the Governor. I was harassed, groped and assaulted by Edwards’ Deputy Chief of Staff. I was humiliated,” said Washington. “After two years of suffering, I came forward, and then I was the one who was unemployed. The governor betrayed me and showed that instead of putting women first, he put politics first and tried to hide this scandal that he created by hiring Anderson in the first place.”

“Like many women, I was desperate to take care of my family, and I was the sole support for my aging parents and teenage daughter,” Washington said of her decision to keep silent about her abuse at the hands of Anderson. “My family relied on my health insurance, and I was afraid to lose it. I was vulnerable and quiet for too long. My story deserves to be told.”

After two years of abuse and harassment by Anderson, Washington spoke up and subsequently lost her job. Despite repeated claims by Gov. Edwards that he was unaware of Anderson’s highly publicized sexual harassment scandals prior to hiring, Washington says the administration knew about Anderson and chose to hire him anyway. Even worse, it was John Bel Edwards’ administration that approved settlement payments to Anderson’s accusers during his tenure at Southern University. Washington said Gov. Edwards’ disregard for women and her desire for the full truth to come out drove her to tell her story in the new ad.

“The governor doesn’t listen to women. I was abused, intimidated and forced to resign, yet I never received an apology from him,” Washington said. “I now know there are other women like me who were abused, spoke up about being harassed and attacked but were ignored. I took the abuse, because it was clear my abuser held all the power but now, it’s time to tell my story.”

Washington is speaking out now to put public pressure on the administration to do more to address sexual misconduct at the highest levels of state government going forward.

The Truth In Politics ad was produced by the Mandeville firm Innovative Advertising, which heretofore hasn’t really done a lot in the governor’s race. Interestingly, Innovative’s chief political client coming into this cycle was state senator Sharon Hewitt, who had made noises about running for governor but ultimately chose not to. It was Hewitt’s demurral which, as it turned out, kept Innovative and its proprietors Jay Connaughton and Gordon Reese largely out of the  governor’s race.

Until now. They’re in it now. And there’s $750,000 backing that Juanita Washington ad. Between it and the RGA’s hit, everyone in Louisiana will know who Johnny Anderson is. And that’s a story John Bel Edwards wishes we’d all forget.

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