(Every Friday afternoon, Gambit will be posting a story from the upcoming weeks print edition as a Web extra early edition for our Internet readers. This week: Jeremy Alford continues his multi-part series about the finances of Gov. Bobby Jindal. Part 1, Jindals List, is here; Part 2, "Deep Pockets," is here.)
HEY, BIG SPENDER!
In his first year in office, Gov. Bobby Jindal outraised and outspent the two previous Louisiana governors in their freshman years combined -- and despite his 'Buy Louisiana' campaign," less than one-third of his expenditures went to Louisiana vendors.
By Jeremy Alford
If you want to run for public office in Louisiana, you need a campaign finance account. It's like a political ATM, except it holds other people's money. Best of all, when you leave office, you don't necessarily have to give up the perks that go with the account.
? ?Just consider the recent spending habits of former Gov. Mike Foster, R-Franklin. He left office in 2004, but Foster still spent some $16,000 in campaign cash last year. He paid more than $860 for half a year's worth of dues to the Camelot Club and the City Club, two of Baton Rouge's swankiest private gathering spots. Foster, who has considerable personal wealth, might have used his account to pay dues for the second half of the year as well, but his campaign kitty is officially, finally, out of money.
??Former Gov. Kathleen Blanco, D-Lafayette, likewise tapped her campaign finance account last year to pay for Internet fees, office expenses and political contributions to other candidates. But Blanco, who exited the mansion in January 2008, surpassed Foster and spent more than $240,000 last year. In fact, Blanco's campaign donors are still supporting a full-fledged office for the former governor, including a personal assistant, Aprill Springfield of Lafayette, who was paid more than $55,000 in 2008.
?? Meanwhile, current Gov. Bobby Jindal, R-Baton Rouge, spent nearly $725,000 from his campaign account last year a figure that jumps off the page when put in perspective. Jindal spent more than three times what Blanco spent in her first 12 months and 10 times more than Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu raised in 2008. (Landrieu raised $70,000 in campaign contributions last year; Blanco spent $225,000 during her first year.)
? ?While getting and spending all that money boosts Jindal's political capital, his aggressive fundraising efforts have also drawn criticism. Columnists and bloggers wonder if he is spending too much time on the road campaigning and not enough back home working on Louisiana's mounting challenges. Just last week, the governor visited New York and Boston for private fundraisers. Since January, he has taken fundraising junkets to Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina and Texas sometimes attending multiple fundraising events per trip....
Read the rest of the story here.