Behind the Jindal façade

March 16, 2009

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s doublespeak and broken promises aren’t going unnoticed by the media or Louisiana citizens. All that campaign talk about transparency, open government and reform isn’t panning out, and Jindal’s reputation is sinking along with it. It’s getting to the point where nearly every day brings a fresh revelation or analysis of Jindal’s hypocrisy. Veteran Times-Picayune political columnist James Gill, in a column titled “Jindal’s bad year about to get worse,” observes:

For his latest renege there can be no excuse. He is supposed to represent the repudiation of old-time Louisiana politics, but governors never came more mealy-mouthed than this.

When Jindal took office last year, he promised never, ever to endorse candidates in legislative races, such was the purity of his devotion to the sound governance. But that was before Lee Domingue, who had donated $116,000 to Jindal’s campaign and associated causes, decided he wanted to be a state senator from Baton Rouge. It is, to say the least, unusual for a governor to intervene in a local primary, but Jindal up and endorsed Domingue over two other Republicans.

Jindal says the money had nothing to do with it, and his word is enough to leave me in no doubt. It was the money.

Jindal emerged as grubby as your average governor, if not quite so straight talking. That would have been bad enough, but he also came out looking politically clueless.

On the transparency front, Sunshine Week sparked a number of stories and editorials on Jindal’s refusal to open up the governor’s office to public records requests. Gannett’s Mike Hasten notes:

Getting what one would think should be public records from the governor’s office is virtually impossible under state law — a law that earns Louisiana a national survey’s ranking of worst in the nation for access to the governor’s records. …

Pamela Mitchell-Wagner, executive director of the Louisiana Press Association, said newspapers regularly try to get information from the governor’s office but are turned down because “he has that exemption based on it being the governor’s records.”

The Advocate weighs in too:

State Rep. Neal Abramson, D-New Orleans, who filed the donor disclosure bill last year, said Jindal “is sending the wrong message” when he supports legislative transparency but blocks the same standard in his own shop.

[Republican State Rep. Wayne] Waddell and [Republican State Rep. Hunter] Greene also note that transparency has been lacking in the Jindal camp in other areas — including public access to the spending of the $1.4 million raised to help the governor transition into office. In the interest of disclosure, Jindal should also be revealing more timely information on financing of out-of-state political fundraising travel, Waddell said.

“There’s a lot of interest out there” in the governor and the operations of his office, said Waddell.

Today, Jindal only mentions transparency as he talks about goals accomplished and achieving the gold standard. But as Waddell observes, it’s more gold-plated than pure gold — and Jindal’s to blame.

Jindal’s reaction? Ignore it all, and keep scheduling and attending out-of-state campaign fundraisers.

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