If you haven’t seen the misinformation yet, you will — in a mailer, a radio ad or video ad on social media: $226 million for 248 classrooms (not true, the proposed half-cent sales tax also covers building two new elementary schools) or $905,000 per classroom (total BS); the Lafayette Parish School System can spend the money on anything it wants (again not true: the tax is dedicated to replacing temporary classrooms on 12 campuses). On and on. Read the school board's response to some of these misrepresentations here.
The misinformation is being disseminated on Facebook by a group calling itself Citizens Against the School Tax, part of shadowy effort to gin up an anti-tax furor that crested with the Tea Party several years ago, and it’s built on selective readings, misrepresentations and distortions. If you scan Citizens Against Tax Reform’s Facebook page, you’ll see graphics that are identical to images on a recent mailer that went to Lafayette residents. The mailer was produced by a group, presumably a political action committee, based in Washington, D.C., called Policies for Louisiana’s Future.
Who is Policies for Louisiana’s Future? OpenSecrets.org, a website that tracks political money, candidates, office holders and their donors, has no record of Priorities for Louisiana’s Future. Nor does the Louisiana Ethics Administration, which also keeps a tally of lobbying and PAC activity in the Bayou State.
The name sounds a lot like Fund for Louisiana’s Future, a super PAC created for former U.S. Sen. David Vitter’s unsuccessful run for governor in 2015. A Google search for Policies for Louisiana’s Future turns up Fund for Louisiana’s Future as its top search result. The 1001 Pennsylvania Ave. address for Policies for Louisiana’s Future is an office building in DC best known as home to political-financial powerhouse The Carlyle Group.
But, a search of the Louisiana secretary of state's business filings has an answer, sort of. Policies for Louisiana's Future lists as its officers three of the principals at the DC political messaging firm The Political Firm — Joel Digrado, Scott Hobbs and Jason Hebert. The registered agent is identified as Incorp Services of Baton Rouge, which lists as its officers four people who share an address on Howard Hughes Boulevard — I'm not making this up! — in Las Vegas. The registered agent for Incorp Services is listed as Louisiana Corporate & Registered Agent Services in Baton, which lists as its officer a Jeanine Beauregard of Baton Rouge. The registered agent for Louisiana Corporate & Registered Agent Services is identified as Statewide Corporate Research Company, also of Baton Rouge. Statewide Corporate Research Company lists Gerald Beauregard as its officer and, wait for it, Louisiana Corporate & Registered Agent Services as its agent.
I hope you're as dazzled by this rabbit's hole as I am.
I reached out via direct message on Facebook to Citizens Against the School Tax and got very little. The person fielding my questions obviously knew who I am — he or she even knew my nickname — and about my employment, but wouldn’t provide any answers about where their funding comes from or who they are: