David Duke Returning?
Key David Duke confidants report that attorney James McPherson has been negotiating with the federal government for several months on the terms of the former Louisiana politician and KKK leader's return to the United States -- and on what type of prison time he will serve.
The United States Attorney's office in New Orleans has been investigating Duke in a variety of areas, including potential mail fraud and violation of IRS regulations. It is believed that Duke may have used funds solicited from supporters for personal activities, such as gambling. In addition, Duke belatedly reported income received from the sale of his mailing list. Notably, his mailing list was purchased by then-gubernatorial candidate Mike Foster and then-U.S. Senate candidate Woody Jenkins. (Whereas Foster was quite aware of his dealings with Duke and invited Duke to his Oaklawn plantation, Jenkins claims he did not know any of his payment actually went to Duke. Both transactions were handled through a mailing list broker.)
A Duke insider reports that the terms of Duke's prison time may fall between 15 and 24 months in a minimum security federal prison, with a fine of at least $10,000. He then would receive a two-year probation that could be finished anywhere in the world -- even back in Europe where he has been traveling for the past several years, speaking to groups in many countries, namely Russia, Italy and Austria.
Why is Duke agreeing to come back and face prison time? One reason could be the failing health of his father, who is battling cancer; another could be the problems his organization has faced in his absence. "The phones don't ring like they used to," says one member of the European-American Unity and Rights Organization.
If this deal is completed, Duke could return in mid-December and would be allowed to spend several weeks with his family before reporting to a federal prison in the beginning of 2003.
Jones Makes Splash
Over the past few weeks, Jefferson Parish Councilman Donald Jones has been generating plenty of attention among voters and political observers. For the past 10 years, Jones has served on the Parish Council, representing the West Bank. In a mailing to the voters of Jefferson Parish, Jones cites accomplishments in a variety of areas: drainage, road improvement, jail construction and increased home ownership. He also points to Jefferson Parish's $8.5 billion economy as a result of an economic boom unparalleled in its 175 year history. According to Jones, in the area of economic development, Jefferson Parish has exceeded all other Louisiana parishes. "Working together through innovative partnerships, Jefferson Parish has attracted and encouraged more commercial development than any other parish," he says. In addition to the mailing, Jones has paid for a series of full-page newspaper advertisements outlining his credentials to the people of Jefferson Parish.
Yet what is curious is that Jones is asking voters to support him for the position of Council chairman in 2003. In the Nov. 5 election, Jefferson Parish voters approved a ballot proposition to change the Council structure from the current 6-1 set-up to a new 5-2 arrangement. If the new Council line-up is approved by the Justice Department and survives a challenge in federal court, voters will no longer elect a Council chairman; instead the position of chairman will be elected by the seven members of the Jefferson Parish Council. Maybe Jones is confident that the new 5-2 structure will be disallowed by federal authorities and the current 6-1 Council retained.
Finally, there is one other interesting aspect to Jones' current quest for Council chairman in 2003. On the front cover of his mailing to the voters asking for support of his campaign, there is a picture of the Louisiana State Capitol. With Jones running for a position in Jefferson Parish, why would there by a picture of the Louisiana State Capitol on his mailing? Some believe that Jones will eventually forego a run for the Parish Council and run for a state legislative position in 2003. Around the picture of the State Capitol are the names of the Presidents of the United States, leading some to question the significance of their inclusion. Regardless of the outcome of the court ruling on the Council structure, at least Donald Jones has made an initial splash and people in Jefferson Parish are talking about his future political plans, whatever they may be.