Battle of the PACs begins at Capitol

by Jeremy Alford, LaPolitics


An “armed and ready,” Louisiana-based super PAC called Truth In Politics started taking aim at Gov. John Bel Edwards last week not long after lawmakers convened their spring regular session.

With startup funding from a group of well-connected donors like Cajun Industries founder Lane Grigsby and a fundraising operation being headed up by Allee Bautsch, who helped build the campaign war chests of former Gov. Bobby Jindal, the group will operate under a large umbrella that will include 501(c)3, 501(c)4 and 527 structures.

Media consultants have already been hired as well.

While such threats are not uncommon across today’s political landscape, those involved with Truth In Politics insist the effort is not a flash in the pan and that organizers are committed to three years of engagement.

Television, radio, billboards and polling are all part of the larger game plan as Edwards inches toward re-election and navigates one tumultuous session after another.

Kelli Bottger, currently the state director of the Louisiana Federation for Children, will be transitioning away from that position to lead Truth In Politics.

“We’re going to be an accountability hub,” she said. “And we have the whole kitchen sink coming. We’re ready.”

While the focus will be on Edwards, his politics and his policy agenda, Bottger said other elected officials may be taken to task as well by the group.

This creates a possible PAC-against-PAC face-off with Rebuild Louisiana, the pro-Edwards organization being operated by Baton Rouge consultant Trey Ourso. He said he welcomes the competition and plans to place “an emphasis on truth” as the anti-JBE group gears up.

“We wouldn’t want a PAC named that telling lies about the governor,” he said with a laugh.

The attacks actually started last week with a Truth In Politics digital ad called “Louisiana’s Hurting.” It claims that the governor “raised taxes on nearly everything” last year.

The spot also seeks to undermine the administration’s session agenda.

Meanwhile, Ourso’s outfit, Rebuild Louisiana, started circulating an internal poll that showed wide support for the governor’s session plan.

A PAC is a political action committee regulated by the state Ethics Administration. Sometimes they oppose or support candidates. In other instances they might just push a single issue.

PACs can be structured in different ways — for example, a super PAC is allowed to raise unlimited donations and does not have to follow the same giving guidelines as standard PACs.