Conservative Voice Revival

   

Those who can’t make compelling arguments try to silence those who can. Using anything at their disposal to silence others has become a hallmark of the left. Maxine Waters encouraged her supporters to harass anyone who wasn’t on her side. “You get out and you create a crowd. And you push back on them. And you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere,” she said. At the time, she was referring to the terrible “caged children” photographs. She used them (as a false flag) to encourage a mob to attack anyone associated with the Trump administration even though the photos were taken during the Obama administration.

Just a few days later, leftist mobs began creating trouble for the President’s staff at local restaurants. The reader will probably remember the Red Hen incident, involving Mike Huckaby’s daughter, Sarah Huckaby-Sanders. Not only did the owner run them out of the restaurant, mid-meal, but followed Sanders to ensure she wouldn’t find refuge anywhere else.

This happens right here in Acadiana, too

There are numerous social media warriors out there who’ve started bullying local small businesses to fire employees the mob doesn’t like. They spend hours scouring the internet, looking for things to be offended by. Then, encourage followers to call their victim’s employer and demand he or she be removed. Jamie Bergeron‘s firing from Acadian Ambulance is an extreme example only because it made the news. However, most of these happen quietly. That happened thanks to Shauna Sias Henderson, who, as far as we know, still works at taxpayers’ expense at the Teche Action Clinic.

Teche Action Board 2019 Annual Report, page 6, reflects the organization operates a $20 million annual budget, about 40% of which is directly attributable to government grants. The other 60% is attributable to “patient service revenue.” The percentage of that revenue attributable to government run healthcare (which is also taxpayer supported) is unmentioned. However, the notes on page 11 make  clear that they participate in both the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Likewise, thanks to the resume he submitted to be considered for the LEDA board, we know that another local antagonist, Jamal Taylor, also works for the taxpayers as a public school teacher in St. Landry Parish.

A group of others who were similarly attacked as Jamie Bergeron have reached out to me. Their stories were full of fake online accounts giving their employer or business one-star reviews. When questioned about the reviews, the perpetrator said that the review would go away if they would fire an employee. If they didn’t fire the employee, the one-star reviews would continue. If that didn’t work, they’d go after their clients. If that didn’t work, they’d pressure vendors to stop selling them products.

Many of these folks had done nothing more than commenting on a local news article. These are hard-working people who want to better their town by pushing back against false narratives of higher taxes or wasteful spending. Since the mob can’t compete with time tested ideas (or perhaps because actual debate is just too difficult for them), they must rely on different tactics. If successful, some outspoken conservative losing their job becomes an example to others. This isn’t how free and open debate is supposed to work.

Wingin' It WednesdaySubtler still

For the last few years, the single most conservative news outlet in Lafayette has been slowly tilting leftward. Local conservatives started noticing the gradual shift when, in early 2016, Brandon Comeaux was replaced on the morning show with Rob Kirkpatrick. Although Rob claims roots in Lafayette, he had recently returned from Atlanta, where he worked for CNN (sometimes jokingly referred to as the “Communist News Network”).

Next thing you know, Wingin’ It Wednesday disappeared. Of course, the name didn’t go away, just the format. Warren Caudle, Carol Ross, and Stafford Barnett were no longer allowed to contrast perspectives on the same issues. Instead, each person would appear on their own. Rob would formulate questions he wanted to ask them individually. Why it changed was never made public, and remains a mystery for listeners to this day.

Silencing continues

During the Carlee campaign, on June 17th, 2019, Citizens for a New Louisiana asked a simple question on our Facebook page: “Is Carlee for Lafayette throwing a CAMPAIGN EVENT at the CAJUNDOME on the TAX PAYER’S DIME?”

That single question upset Rob. He never called, emailed, or attempted to get in touch with me to find out why the page asked that particular question. In fact, he didn’t even recognize it as a question but a blatant falsehood. Two days later, here’s what he had to say, not to us, but to people he managed – people who might assume they had to follow his orders if they wanted to keep their job.

From: Rob Kirkpatrick
Sent: Wednesday, June 19, 2019 1:31 PM
Subject: Michael Lunsford on KPEL
Folks,
I want to reiterate my thoughts about giving Mr. Lunsford a platform as an ‘expert’ or ‘contributor’ to our shows.
Once again, a claim he made was busted. In this week’s case, with one phone call. It’s not someone I want associated with the KPEL brand in any official capacity.
We obviously won’t stop anyone from calling in to the shows to share their opinion. But, it should be framed as just that: someone with an opinion.
Earlier this year during our annual planning meetings, Bruce and I discussed the problem that NewsTalk brands are facing when it comes to amateur political analysts in the current political environment.
Many of them hide behind a website or facebook page, but as we get closer to major elections and ballot measures, I want to make sure we’re presenting top-notch facts and informed commentary as you do every day.
Thanks again-
You all make me so proud and the work you’ve done so far this crazy year is right on target. Keep on!
Rob

The Advocate’s only source had a conflict of interest (shocker)

Even though we received several calls from the press (including the Advocate) after we asked about Carlee’s campaign event at the Cajundome, none of them printed what we said. The Advocate tossed our entire, long conversation into the waste bin and instead chose to write a hit piece. That’s really nothing new from them, as they had previously written a different hit piece when the Louisiana Ethics Administration was looking into the merits of an anonymous complaint filed against us a few years ago. As with the Jamie Bergeron incident, the purpose of their complaint wasn’t to get at the truth, but to make an example of anyone who got in their way. Even though the ethics board declared the anonymous complaint to be without merit, the Advocate hasn’t bothered to correct the article.

According to their more recent hit piece, Carlee’s campaign never bothered to respond to the paper’s questions about the Cajundome event. Instead, the Cajundome’s director, Pam Deville, told the Advocate that Carlee herself had paid the fee of $920. What made this issue complicated is the campaign report that would include the transaction date wasn’t going to be filed by Carlee until nearly three months later, on September 12th.

Page 100 of that report dates the transaction on June 13th, 2019, or about two business days before we asked the question. However, according to a public records request, the Cajundome didn’t actually receive the payment until June 18ththe day after we asked who was paying for the event. The same date corresponds, exactly, to the Advocate’s hit piece. These dates make it entirely possible that all of these machinations could have taken place as a result of our post of the 17th. Remember, none of these facts were known at the time of the post. The Advocate obviously never requested any documentation from the Cajundome or they would have mentioned it in the article.

Now, let’s have a look at the conflict of interest. Cajundome Director, Pam Deville, turned out to be a significant donor to the Carlee campaign. She appears on page 34 of Carlee’s November 12th campaign finance report, and her husband appears on page 12 of Carlee’s December 27th campaign finance report. All told, they contributed a very substantial $1,200. At that time (or since, as far as we can tell) neither the Advocate nor Rob Kirkpatrick made any effort to ascertain the Cajundome Director’s political alignments with Carlee.

Why’d we even ask the question?

As we mentioned earlier, Carlee wouldn’t file any campaign financials for about three months. However, she had filed earlier reports as President of “Fix the Charter,” a political committee that fundamentally transformed Lafayette’s government.

During her pre-mayoral campaign, under the guise of Fix the Charter, Carlee’s organization held multiple local events around town. There was the election night watch party at Blanchard’s BBQ. Another one was the Fix the Charter Sunday Social at Pamplona. Then there was the November election social at POUR Lafayette. Oh, and finally the Fix the Charter Team Breakfast at Central Pizza. That makes four events, at four different venues.

I know what you’re thinking. How many of these events did Fix the Charter pay for? The answer is short and simple: zero. Not a single one of these events appears as an expense on the campaign reports. Several are “in-kind” donations (meaning they were donated by the venue). Those included the Pamplona and POUR events, listed as in-kind on page 34 of her November 28, 2018, report, and the Blanchard’s BBQ “in-kind” donation listed on page 7 of her January 16, 2019, report.  However, the Central Pizza event was never mentioned in any of her campaign reports.

Considering that all of these campaign events were either donated or unmentioned, wouldn’t it make sense to ask if the Cajundome was donating their space? In fact, now that we look back, that $920 expense was covered (and then some) by the Cajundome director’s own donations. Oh, and in case you were wondering, according to page 35 of their 2019 annual report, the taxpayer funded Cajundome director’s salary the same year was $256,490. That accounts for most of their annual loss of $308,700. If you think that’s not too bad, consider that the Cajundome took in $2,816,536 in tax revenue last year, but they’re still in the red by $3,557,871. All that’s on page 5 of the same annual report.

Yes, we told all this to the Advocate

Well, almost all of it. Certainly, we couldn’t pull reports that wouldn’t be filed for three months. However, we did direct the Advocate to the individual events and the campaign finance reports for Fix the Charter, in which none of the aforementioned events appeared as an expense. Why didn’t that get printed in the article? Instead, they had to debunk it with their only source being a Carlee Campaign Donor. Add that Rob Kirkpatrick didn’t do any due diligence on any of this. He simply called our organization “amateur” based on a slanted opinion piece from the Advocate – because he wanted it to be true.

Why would he do that? From our perspective, it fits right in with the pattern we’ve already laid out.

KPEL parts ways with Carol Ross

Several news reports, including this one from the Advocate, quoting Rob Kirkpatrick, declared Carol Ross’s departure as amicable. While this may be the case, everyone wonders what really happened. The catalyst for her removal started when a microphone was accidentally left on during a commercial break. A video was being previewed to determine if it could be aired. It contained a few bad words that needed to be blanked out, so it would normally be set aside for later.

While the audio did air during the commercial break, it was nearly impossible to make out as it was playing on top of an advertisement. It was simple human error. However, the next day Ross was suspended. The meeting with Kirkpatrick and others was held days later and ended quickly. Inside sources tell us there was talk of censoring the show’s subject matter up to and possibly including management creating a list of allowed topics and guests. None of the meeting was about ensuring an error like that wouldn’t happen again.

If we follow that ancient proverb’s advice by judging a person by the reputation of her enemies, then we certainly know Carol Ross was on the right side. During her years on the air, Ross has held true to her intro, “ruffling feathers like no one else can.” She used public records and other documents to rattle some pretty big cages locally, especially when it had to do with cronyism. We even found where one of those left-of-center, tax-and-spend politicians, Jeremy Hidalgo, was thrilled with the news.

Stay tuned (but not to KPEL)

The most educated and engaged audience in Lafayette doesn’t crave light and airy radio all day long. That’s why they used to tune in to KPEL for the facts and information they craved: red meat in the form of Wingin’ it Wednesday and the Ross Report. Now that it’s all been replaced by cotton candy, the listeners are back on the hunt.

Let not your heart be troubled. Carol Ross is making her way back onto the air, and everyone is already adjusting their radio dial to the new frequency. At the moment, she’s doing her show as a podcast, which started yesterday. Any day now, she’ll be live at the usual time of 2:00 to 4:00 on News Talk 98.5 FM. Now might be a good time to adjust your radio to Acadiana’s new conservative home.

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