Politics 04.02.2008

Bush to attend Kennedy fund-raiser, Michot's fund-raiser and more BUSH TO ATTEND KENNEDY FUND-RAISER If there were any doubt about the national Republican Party’s commitment to his U.S. Senate campaign, state Treasurer John Kennedy removed it last week when he announced that the National Republican Senatorial Committee is hosting a fund-raiser for him April 22 in Baton Rouge and that President Bush will be among the distinguished guests. Gov. Bobby Jindal, Sen. David Vitter, and the state’s four Republican Congressmen are co-hosts. Tickets are $2,000.

Kennedy, a longtime Democrat who switched to the Republican Party last year, is challenging U.S. Sen. Mary Landreiu’s re-election bid. Kennedy also ran for Senate in 2004, as a Democrat, an election won by David Vitter. Last year, Kennedy reportedly met with Bush’s chief political strategist, Karl Rove, to discuss this year’s senate race. The fund-raiser is another signal that Kennedy is the GOP’s choice candidate for the senate seat, though Secretary of State Jay Dardenne has yet to rule out the possibility of challenging Kennedy in a Republican primary. Meanwhile, Landrieu is trying to use Bush’s visit to capitalize on her own fund raising, saying that Kennedy will likely pocket $1 million from the event — a number she is challenging her supporters to match.
JINDAL’S VIOLATION: HORSE NOT DEAD, SOME BEATING LEFT TO DO** If Gov. Bobby Jindal thought the flap over the payment of his campaign finance violation was put to rest during last month’s special session on ethics reform, he’s sadly mistaken. Rep. Jerome “Dee” Richard, an independent from Thibodaux, will be pushing legislation during the regular session that begins this week to prohibit the use of campaign funds to pay fines, fees or penalties assessed in relation to a campaign finance or lobbying violation. While not directly aimed at the GOP governor, Richard’s House Bill 277 could certainly dredge up a few comparisons or anecdotal references.

Jindal’s campaign failed to timely report a $118,000 donation from the Louisiana Republican Party last year, and Rolfe McCollister Jr., a Baton Rouge publisher and Jindal’s campaign treasurer, initially vowed to personally pay the pending fine, which could reach as high as $2,500. Such third-party payments were a focus of the special session, with many lawmakers, including Richard and others from New Orleans and elsewhere, successfully passing legislation to ban the practice. The use of campaign money to pay for fines, though, escaped the scrutiny of lawmakers earlier this year.
TERM-LIMITED MICHOT GETS MAJOR FUND-RAISER** A big fund-raiser held last week for term-limited Lafayette state Sen. Mike Michot is prompting speculation about the popular legislator’s future political plans. The “Michot Spring Gala 2008” was held Thursday, March 27, at the Historic Houmas House Plantation and Gardens in Darrow, La. Tickets to the event were $500, while event sponsorships ran for $5,000 each and host committee participation was priced at $2,500. Courson Nickel and Knight Oil Tools were listed on the invitations as event sponsors. Acadian Ambulance, Atmos Energy, Dwight W. Andrus III, developer Robert Daigle and the Louisiana Auto Dealers Association were among the fund-raiser’s 14 host committee members. The invites also noted Gov. Bobby Jindal would be in attendance. Nancy Landry, a local family law attorney who recently ran an unsuccessful campaign for the District 31 state House seat held by Don Trahan, was the event chair and organizer.

Michot says he does not have another office in mind.

“I don’t have anything specifically identified at this point,” he says. “I’m still weighing options. Obviously, you never know what opportunities will arise. Things change sometimes in a very short period of time, and sometimes it takes a few years but obviously, I want to be ready in case something does come up that I’m interested in pursuing.”

Michot is the senior Republican in the state Senate and recently became chair of the powerful Senate Finance Committee and Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget.

Contributors: Jeremy Alford and Nathan Stubbs