Well, if you received “that mailer” and thought, wow, that name sounds incredibly familiar, this one is for you. Citizens for Integrity in Government is not Citizens for a New Louisiana. We’ve received a few calls, texts, and emails about it. The only thing I can tell you is it was probably formed to look or sound like us.
You may remember our informational campaign that convinced Louisiana Speaker Pro Tempore, Tanner Magee, to not seek re-election. In that same campaign, we also pointed out that Scott McKnight (now running for state Treasurer) was not as fiscally conservative as he’d like the public to think. We ran a state-wide poll on the Governor’s race. This was not necessarily to find out what everyone already knew (that Jeff Landry had a sizable lead), but what everyone didn’t know. That is: 70% of the state thinks our legislature has been terrible under the ‘leadership’ of Clay Schexnayder. We also found out that the most frustrating issue for residents was how our legislature emptied the state treasury in the final moments of session.
In our local area, we’ve created multiple scorecards that help you understand who’s really conservative, and who’s just pretending. These include the Lafayette City Council, the Lafayette Parish Council, and even the Youngsville City Council. If you’re watching state positions, you’ll probably already know about our Legislature Scorecard and Senate Scorecard.
It’s our belief that our elected officials will perform better when they’re being watched. These scorecards are their new “permanent record.”
Citizens for Integrity in Government
The organization, Citizens for Integrity in Government, was registered as a non-profit corporation with the Louisiana Secretary of State on June 9th, 2023. Its only officer is Conrad Comeaux, Lafayette’s current (but outgoing) tax assessor. The organization is too new to show up on the IRS’s website.
In all likelihood, it’s a 501(c)(4) non-profit. The Advocate’s Claire Taylor normally calls such an organization a “Dark Money PAC.” However, no one is shocked that she’s been eerily silent here. The Louisiana Board of Ethics has a name for this type of non-profit, too. They call it a “Pop-up PAC.” A few months before an election, it “pops up” and a few months after the election, it goes away.
From what we understand, two mail pieces have gone out under the CFIG nom de plume. One was a simple solicitation letter, the other was a multi-page glossy. The latter was likely a significant expense that should be self-reported to the Louisiana Board of Ethics at some point. As of this writing, nothing has been reported under that name.
Lafayette First PAC
This strategy is a subtle change from four years ago when Conrad Comeaux was involved and made significant donations to Lafayette First PAC. That effort was run by a member of Team Carlee, Mark DeClouet. Carlee’s hatchet man, Kevin Blanchard, who is now the Grand Poobah over at Lafayette Public Trust Financing Authority (LPTFA), was a major contributor to that effort, as was Southern Lifestyle Developers (Blanchard and Carlee’s employer at the time). That PAC ran numerous anti-Josh Guillory mailers and social media campaigns in the 2019 Lafayette Mayor-President race. Lafayette First PAC still has an unsettled Board of Ethics fine for $3,000 from way back then.
The Lafayette First PAC raised and spent $33,541 that year. This time around, Guillory is running as an incumbent Mayor. It would be ill-advised for anyone in and around local government who doesn’t like his politics to be found out. Non-profits don’t have to reveal their donors, and so it’s the perfect mechanism for Conrad Comeaux to raise and spend money.
Another one of Conrad Comeaux’s recent dirty tricks was convincing some normally conservative members of the Parish Council to raise taxes. These kinds of tests come along every so often. The 4:1 vote these tax increases received is technically veto-proof. At the time, the question many asked was, will Josh Guillory stand by his fiscal conservative talking-point and veto a veto-proof tax increase?
Thankfully, Guillory saw through the effort and remained consistent, repeating his earlier veto of other tax increases. My thought process is Conrad Comeaux hoped that Guillory would fear a veto-override vote so much that he’d just let the higher taxes go. Instead, Comeaux gave Guillory a softball in the middle of election season. Now, he has two vetoes for higher taxes under his belt. Comeaux helped to make Guillory look good while at the same time making the council look bad.
CFIG is not us
So, to answer questions we’ve been receiving lately: no, Citizens for Integrity in Government is not Citizens for a New Louisiana. The name and even the color choices seem quite similar, but perhaps that’s done on purpose. After all, tricking people into thinking you’re the most influential conservative organization in the entire state would be quite a feat. Better luck next time.