Did Cleo Fields Just Roll Jeff Landry?

That’s what it seems like based on this story quoting Fields at WBRZ-TV’s website

The chairman of a Senate committee key to Louisiana holding a constitutional convention this summer said Tuesday that a House-passed proposal setting out a plan will not win passage in the current legislative session.

Sen. Cleo Fields, a Democrat from Baton Rouge who heads the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee, described HB800 as essentially dead.

“HB800 will not be heard in this session of the Legislature,” Fields said in an interview with WBRZ after his panel met Tuesday. “We are going to have another meeting tomorrow but I don’t intend to put it on the agenda and I don’t intend to put it on the agenda for the rest of this session.

“There may be some other moves that may be made before the session is over with, but as far as 800, that bill will not be heard this session,” he said.

The House approved calling a constitutional convention in a 75-27 vote on May 7 and sent the bill to the Senate. It’s been hung up in Fields’ committee since May 8.

Louisiana currently operates under a constitution adopted in 1974, which has been amended more than 200 times. Louisiana has had 10 constitutions since becoming a state in 1812.

Gov. Jeff Landry listed a constitutional convention as a key part of his legislative plan for 2024.

Fields is supposed to be Landry’s ally among the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus. He quietly stood aside and gave tacit support for Landry rather than Shawn Wilson in last fall’s gubernatorial election, which was one reason Landry was able to win in the primary. And for that, Fields was pretty richly rewarded – he got the chairmanship of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, and that allowed Fields to essentially draw up his very own congressional district to run in – which is that snaky Rorschach test of a congressional district which starts in Baton Rouge and runs all the way up to Shreveport.

Landry signed the bill creating that district and his administration defended it in court, with the Supreme Court granting a stay in the lawsuit alleging it’s an unconstitutional racial gerrymander of a district – which it is. And Fields is now the favorite to win that congressional seat even if the nominal incumbent Garret Graves decides to run for re-election there.

Which makes Cleo Fields the most entitled, pampered politician in Louisiana. He might be one of the most – if not THE most – entitled, pampered politicians the state has ever seen.

Apparently his promises only last so long as he’s still being paid for them. Because now that he’s got a ready-made congressional seat, Cleo Fields is suddenly no longer an ally of Jeff Landry’s and he’s going to bury one of Landry’s most important priorities for the current legislative session and not even let HB 800, the constitutional convention bill, get a hearing and a vote in that committee he chairs?

That committee has six Republicans and three Democrats. HB 800 would pass out of Senate Governmental Affairs if Fields would put it on the calendar. He’s solely responsible for killing that bill at this point, if that’s what happens.

Now – there is another possibility, which is that Fields isn’t the one rolling Landry. Fields might be doing Cameron Henry’s bidding. The Senate president, after all, has been dumping on the idea of a constitutional convention this entire session, and what we’re learning about how Henry operates is sometimes he’s taking bullets for the Legislative Black Caucus, whose votes he solicited and won with promises of things like Regina Barrow getting to be Senate President Pro Tem, Fields getting to chair Senate Governmental Affairs and other goodies.

But other times, it’s them taking bullets for Henry.

And this might be an example of that.

Either way, we said it was patently ridiculous that a Senate with 28 Republicans and only 11 Democrats would have any committee chairs held by the latter. Fields ended up with one of the more consequential committee chairs, particularly when Landry had said from the beginning that he wanted to make structural changes to how Louisiana is governed.


All of those structural changes go through Fields’ committee. And now you see that the most important of them, the writing of a new constitution which is smaller and more sensible and allows for greater flexibility for reform and smart public policy, perhaps at the expense of an entrenched, big-government-oriented status quo, is being blocked in that committee.

This should never have happened.

People talk about how transactional Cleo Fields is. That he can be bought.

There’s an old joke about this. It’s that an honest politician is one who, when he is bought, stays bought.

Well, Cleo Fields doesn’t stay bought. And he’s definitely not an honest politician. Not even as a joke.

And barring something behind the scenes we haven’t heard about, it looks like Landry might well have learned that the hard way.



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