By Robert Mann
They claim to be ethical watchdogs and fiscal conservatives – fierce guardians of the public purse. So, why do Gov. Bobby Jindal and Sen. David Vitter spend so much tax money to fund their political endeavors?
Rarely in Louisiana while running for president, Jindal has used the governor’s office as a platform for higher office for almost eight years. Vitter, meanwhile, is staging U.S. Senate-funded events that benefit his gubernatorial campaign, otherwise known as “field hearings” of his Small Business Committee.
First, however, consider the many ways Jindal has drawn from the state treasury to finance his political operation. Virtually every action, every decision, every bill and every public statement during his two terms as governor has been crafted to appeal to Republican voters in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. As I’ve observed before, his operation has always been a presidential campaign disguised as a governor’s office.
Ask some of his erstwhile GOP allies at the state Capitol, and they’ll acknowledge that Louisiana has usually been among the least of Jindal’s concerns. Repeatedly, he’s sacrificed the state’s well-being on the altar of his national political ambitions.
Recent case in point: Jindal’s support of legislation giving businesses a license to discriminate against same-sex couples clearly threatened Louisiana’s convention and tourism industry. But it played well with the Christian right in Iowa and South Carolina, so he supported it (and turned much of it into a blatantly political executive order).
Most egregiously, Jindal uses the state’s working poor as pawns so he can fulminate against the Affordable Care Act on the campaign trail. Does anyone think Jindal would have rejected Medicaid expansion if he weren’t burning with presidential ambition? The truth is, Jindal long ago quit worrying about Louisiana – and it shows. Arecent statewide poll pegged Jindal with a dreadful 25 percent job approval rating.
It’s no exaggeration to say that Jindal rarely does the job for which we pay him. Since he announced for president on June 24, he has spent one day in Louisiana (and that was to use our Governor’s Mansion as part of a fundraiser for his presidential campaign).
In addition to paying him for duties he rarely performs – Jindal was away on political trips 165 days in 2015, or 45 percent of the year – he uses public resources to make his travel easier by charging the State Police for his security. Trust me, we’re paying for far more than Jindal’s safety. Governors rely upon the State Police as much or more for arranging and facilitating their travel than for personal protection.
In the last fiscal year alone, Louisiana paid more than $2.2 million for Jindal’s “security” detail during his far-flung travels — $73,000 alone during his 10-day “trade mission” to Europe in January.
Jindal also has a habit of using his press office as a campaign organ, deploying official state workers to issue statements attacking other GOP candidates. Speaking of staff, Jindal loaded up his official office with what blogger Tom Aswell has called “campaign-workers-turned-state-employees.” It’s likely he placed these staffers on the state’s payroll, not for their policy expertise, but “parked” them until campaign time.
Continue reading on NOLA.com at this link.