BOASSO HITS JINDAL ON IRAQ Gubernatorial candidate Walter Boasso believes the low national support for both President Bush and the Iraq War is also a factor in Louisiana. In his latest campaign ad, the cardboard cutout of his opponent, U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal, is back, this time alongside a cutout of President Bush. "Jindal has backed Bush on the Iraq war every step of the way," Boasso says in the ad, which began running across the state. "Louisiana deserves better." He continues, "That's why I support bringing our troops home, especially our National Guard." Boasso spokesman Brian Welsh would not elaborate on Boasso's position, except to suggest that voters will be hearing a lot more on the issue in the near future. "Bobby Jindal's 100 percent total support for the president on the war," Welsh says, "along with his blind support for the president on a variety of issues is going to be a very significant issue in this race." Boasso's newest ad is likely the start of an onslaught of Boasso campaign advertising. Last week, the businessman sold his shipping-industry company Boasso American to Florida-based Quality Distribution for $60 million, giving him plenty of options to pump up his campaign coffer and compete with the sizable war chests of Republicans Jindal and John Georges. ... STATE ETHICS BOARD SEARCHING FOR NEW ADMINISTRATOR Longtime Louisiana Board of Ethics administrator R. Gray Sexton's refusal to follow a new law that requires him to disclose clients and other business dealings and his subsequent decision to resign last month has the board searching for a replacement. Initially, the board planned to retain Sexton in an advisory capacity, but that plan was quickly scrapped. Lafayette attorney Hank Perret, chairman of the ethics board, says the board tried to keep Sexton on because his 40 years of expertise is needed for the heavy workload during the upcoming elections. "The decision was made that Gray is not going to go forward [in an advisory capacity]. So we move on," Perret says. House Bill 532, signed into law by Gov. Kathleen Blanco July 11, stipulates that the board's ethics administrator must work full time on the agency job by August 2008 and would have required Sexton to disclose private clients and business dealings within 30 days of the bill becoming law. The day after the signing, Sexton told the board that his resignation was "absolutely" the result of the new law, saying he wants to keep his private business affairs confidential. In the meantime, Kathleen Allen, who served as deputy general counsel (second to Sexton), is acting administrator and says she will apply for the post, which is a state civil service position. Allen has been with the office almost a decade. Depending on the new administrator's qualifications, the salary will be $67,000 to $140,000; Sexton was making about $95,000. The Louisiana Board of Ethics oversees state ethics and campaign finance laws. The application deadline is Aug. 21; for more info on the search and qualifications of candidates, visit www.dscs.state.la.us. ... DUREL TOUTS BLUEPRINT TO STATE MAYORS Last Friday, Lafayette City-Parish President Joey Durel used his platform as incoming president of the Louisiana Conference of Mayors to promote Blueprint Louisiana, a new political advocacy group comprised of some of the state's most prominent business leaders. Durel has told The Independent he believes the group is an important bellwether for change in the state. Blueprint's Lafayette roots include founding directors Clay Allen, Bill Fenstermaker and Matt Stuller, key supporters of Durel. At LCM's annual conference, Durel encouraged other mayors to sign up for Blueprint as well as make a contribution to the organization. He recently became the first Louisiana mayor to contribute financially to Blueprint, giving $5,000 to the group from his campaign fund. Blueprint has released a five-point plan for state legislative reforms it plans to promote over the next two years. The organization will be involved in both lobbying efforts in the state Capitol and in state elections. ... KENNEDY STAYS PUT ' FOR NOW After widespread speculation that he'd give up his post to run for attorney general, state Treasurer John Kennedy isn't going anywhere. "After much consideration, Becky and I have decided that I can serve the state of Louisiana best by offering myself for another term as state treasurer this fall," Kennedy says. "Many folks encouraged me to run for attorney general, but just as many wanted me to remain as state treasurer. In the end, it was a personal and family decision." That still hasn't quashed speculation that Kennedy might switch parties. He was courted by Republican strategist Karl Rove earlier this year; one theory is that if Jindal wins the gubernatorial election, Kennedy would switch parties and run for Jindal's congressional seat.
Kennedy's decision also put the kibosh on Marjorie McKeithen's plans. McKeithen, a Democrat who currently serves as secretary of the Louisiana Mineral Board, says she was only interested in a role that would allow her to help the state leverage the expected influx of federal oil and gas money heading this way, which is largely earmarked for coastal restoration. "The treasurer could have had an impact there, and that's all I was interested in. I also have no interest in the attorney general's race," McKeithen says. ... PLUM POSITION The Iberia Parish president's office is now a plum position. The Iberia Parish Council ratified an increase to the parish president's salary last week from $103,060 to $116,043 for the period of July 12 until Aug. 23, when it will jump again up to $126,963. The 23 percent increase is mandated in Iberia's Home Rule Charter, which states that the parish president's salary be set at an average of the salaries of the sheriff, tax assessor and clerk of court. The Legislature voted to give those elected officials raises this year.
Former Iberia Parish President Will Langlinais' retirement, based on the highest figures he was paid over his last 36 months, will reflect the first increase. Langlinais resigned his office July 25. Caesar Comeaux, the newly appointed interim parish president, will benefit from the raises as well until he steps aside in January. The parish president's election is Oct. 20.
Contributors: Jeremy Alford, Scott Jordan, Nathan Stubbs, Leslie Turk, Mary Tutwiler