In case you didn’t realize it – 2023 is an election year! You can expect to be inundated with campaign flyers, phone polls and door knocks as candidates get in gear asking for your support. There will be campaign signs at every major intersection, full page newspaper ads and the repetitive radio/television ads aimed at turning your brain into a mush programmed to search the ballot for a particular name. You can also expect the smear ads making claims you would expect to read in the National Inquirer, linking candidates to the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby or Watergate.
Then there will be the more subversive brand of propaganda. The piece that doesn’t strike you as a political ad. The one paid for with your tax dollars, whether prohibited or not, and directed by lifelong bureaucrats seeking to maintain the status quo. Reader beware! The attacks have already started.
The Gulf Coast Cajun Connection
Recently an ad has surfaced in local papers featuring a select group Acadiana Legislators. “Legislative support matters!” (If the ad contains the word “matters” it is safe to start with the premise that it originated left of center or was highjacked by someone slightly right of center trying to play both sides of the fence.) It references the fact that the Port of Iberia received over $58 million in Capital Outlay funds from the passage of HB2 during the 2022 Legislative Session. The piece goes on – “Thanks to the teamwork of these Acadiana Legislators along with Senate President Page Cortez and Senator Bob Hensgens”
Those Acadiana Legislators pictured are Marcus Bryant (1/10), Beau Beaullieu (5/10), Mike Huval (3/10), Jean Paul-Coussan (4/10), Bret Allain (7/10), Stuart Bishop (5/10) and Fred Mills (3/10). The ad fails to recognize the other Senators and Representatives from the 22-parish area which make up the Acadiana Delegation, most of whom also supported and were responsible for funding the project.
The author of the piece would have you believe that these were the only legislators who supported the measure. However, more prominent members of the Acadiana Delegation who supported the measure include: Julie Emerson (9/10), Blake Miguez (9/10), Beryl Amedee (9/10), Brett Geymann (8/10), Jonathan Goudeau (7/10) and Heather Cloud (8/10). It is nothing more than an attempt to exalt a small group of legislators, while pretending other legislators didn’t work just as hard to identify and provide funding for the project. Worst of all, it is being paid for by your tax dollars!
Should government agencies be paying for these types of ads?
This particular ad appears to be funded by the Port of Iberia District Board of Commissioners. The Port of Iberia, as it is commonly referred to, is headed by an appointed Executive Director, Craig Romero. Romero is not new to political games. Back in 2004 he claimed to be the ‘victim’ of ads and fliers that labeled him a ‘liberal’ who voted to repeal Louisiana’s ban on sodomy and indicated that he wished to remove prayer from schools. Just like the voting record of Acadiana Delegation speaks for itself, so does that of Mr. Romero. And if Mr. Romero wishes to involve himself in dirty politics perhaps, he should use his own money and not that of the Port of Iberia District, which in some respects may be illegal.
Louisiana Revised Statute 43:111.1 states: “No public funds shall be used in whole or in part for the payment of the cost of any advertisement containing therein the name of any public official whether elected or appointed…” While some exemptions exist for “port commissions” they are limited to “carrying out their respective functions and duties under the constitution and laws of this state,” which appears to not be the case here.
Although it is not open support or opposition of a particularly candidate, the ad published by the Port of Iberia tends to detract from other candidates for public office and likewise may violate the law in other respects. Louisiana Revised Statute 18:1465 states: “No public funds shall be used to urge any elector to vote for or against any candidate or proposition, or be appropriated to a candidate or political organization.” Coupled with the prohibitions found in the Louisiana Constitution (Art. 7:14 and Art. 11:4) we can find many parchment barriers erected which are easily pierced by those who lack integrity and are willing to do whatever it takes to support their preferred candidates, and at your cost!
If you weren’t already prepared for the deceptive campaign ads and potential misuse of public funds to prop up certain candidates, let this be your first indication that campaign season has now officially arrived.. Don’t fall for the “election integrity” fundraising schemes being foisted upon Louisiana citizens when there has been zero evidence presented to support that the election system in the STATE OF LOUISIANA has failed. Your vote does count in Louisiana! And it is important that you show-up prepared to cast your ballot in this year’s Gubernatorial election, which also includes state senators, legislators, and many others.