Louisiana Committee for a Republican Majority
Jindal campaign accepts hundreds of thousands in ethically and legally questionable contributions
Deep-pocketed GOP contributors using LLCs as printing presses for campaign funds
They doth protest too much.
Bobby Jindal and Republicans up and down the ballot have for months been relentlessly proclaiming the need for ethics reform in Louisiana and their commitment to make that happen once they are elected to office.
But, a funny thing has happened on the way to the election.
A small but dedicated group of wealthy Republican supporters have apparently decided that ethics reform is so important that they are willing to violate the spirit and possibly the letter of Louisiana's Campaign Finance Disclosure Act (CFDA) in order to support the campaigns of Jindal and other Republicans appearing on the October 20th ballot.
A detailed examination of Jindal's campaign finance reports submitted through the September filing period reveals that 100 limited liability companies (LLCs) controlled by 28 individuals or companies have contributed more than $500,000 to the erstwhile Congressman's second campaign for governor. The use of multiple LLCs controlled by these individuals or companies has enabled them to contribute more to Jindal's campaign than the $5,000 limit on contributions set in the CFDA.
Because campaign finance laws are essential to ethics reform, it is more than a little surprising that Jindal (whose campaign has focused on ethics since it began its media blitz in the summer) has so readily accepted so much ethically questionable money. It reinforces the emerging perception fueled, in no small part by the ostentatious money-raising efforts of the Louisiana Committee for a Republican Majority that Republicans are trying to buy this fall's Louisiana elections, and break the rules to do so, if need be.
Because the CFDA imposes responsibility for policing the legitimacy of contributions on campaigns, Republican candidates (like Jindal) who accept contributions from such questionable schemes may be exposed to significant fines and penalties should the contributions be found to be illegal.
Regardless of the legality, this kind of ethical and legal limit-testing is the kind of behavior that feeds the state's reputation as place where the rule of law has been replaced by a game of cat and mouse.
Using the Louisiana State Board of Ethics database of campaign finance reports, the list of Jindal's contributors was downloaded into an Excel spreadsheet. The file was then sorted by amount of the contribution, the address of the contributor and the last name of the contributor. The result was that $5,000 contributions were grouped together by address and in alphabetical order.
The addresses are a critical piece because common addresses can be a clue as to a possibly deeper relationship among companies.
Every $5,000 contribution made by an LLC to Jindal's gubernatorial campaign was reviewed. The ownership of the LLC was then checked in the database maintained by the Louisiana Secretary of State. Corporate databases in Mississippi and Georgia were used where appropriate.
What emerged were clusters of owners who were using multiple LLCs under their control to make multiple contributions of the maximum $5,000 to Jindal's campaign.
If this is legal, then there are no caps on contributions under Louisiana law. A wealthy person could create a series of LLCs and make as many maximum contributions to a single campaign as LLCs he/she controlled.
Consider the fact that Boysie Bollinger made contributions to the LCRM through 19 LLCs he controlled. If the kind of multiple maxing found in Jindal's reports is legal, then Bollinger could theoretically give a candidate for statewide office $95,000, or $5,000 for every LLC he controls.
Again, if this multiple maxing is legal, then there are no campaign contribution caps under Louisiana law.
In the order of the amount contributed, here are the names of the cluster of LLCs, the people who control them, and the dates that the money was given.
Seven companies tied to Baton Rouge-based developers Lance B. and Fred H. Belcher, Jr. contributed $35,000 to Jindal's campaign. Lance Belcher also contributed $5,000 of his own money in August 2006. Alicia Morris gave $5,000 in March of this year. Morris listed her address as the same of those of the Belcher companies: 10720 Linkwood Court, Baton Rouge, LA 70810. The dates, companies and amounts contributed are:
• August 11, 2006 •
Belcher Management LLC • $5,000
Emerald Forest LP • $5,000
• March 6, 2007 •
Belcher Investment & Holdings LLC • $5,000
Turnberry Place at Bluebonnet LLC • $5,000
• April 11, 2007 •
Turnberry Development Group LLC • $5,000
The Forest LLC* • $5,000
Belcher Properties Inc. • $5,000
* The Forest LLC did not show up on the Secretary of State's database, but it does show up on the listing as a partner in Emerald Forest LP.
A series of LLCs based in Garyville and owned in whole or in part by Darla Gaudet and Russell Gaudet III contributed $35,000 to the Jindal campaign. The dates, companies, and amounts are:
Teddy Ray Price of Winnfield owns two companies, PRICO and Kisatchie Corporation that separately and/or together control several LLCs all using the mailing address: P.O. Box 1438 in Winnfield. Marjorie S. Price serves as a member of some of the LLCs. The Prices' LLCs had contributed $35,000 to Jindal's campaign through the September report. The dates, companies and amounts are:
• December 14, 2006 •
Landmark Properties of West Monroe LLC • $5,000
• December 29, 2006 •
Forest Haven Properties LLC • $5,000
Richland Manor Properties LLC • $5,000
Autumn Leaves Properties LLC • $5,000
Colonial Manor Properties LLC • $5,000
Plantation Manor Properties LLC • $5,000
• April 11, 2007 •
Fair Oaks Properties LLC • $5,000
Raymond A. Wooldridge, apparently of the Atlanta area, controls eight LLCs with offices in New Orleans that contributed a total of $35,000 to Jindal's campaign; most of that in December 2006. The dates, companies and amounts are:
Brian Bossier, Sr., is a member of five LLCs domiciled in Alexandria that gave $25,000 to the Jindal campaign which was deposited on December 14, 2006. The dates, companies and amounts are:
Edward Diefenthal has contributed $75,000 to the Louisiana Committee for a Republican Majority. He's also been a heavy hitter in the Jindal campaign, contributing $5,000 in his own name and $25,000 through companies he controls. The dates, companies and amounts are:
Companies controlled by Jack Lawton, Sr. and Jr., of Lake Charles contributed $35,000 to Jindal's campaign, plus $5,000 in personal contributions from each. The dates, companies and amounts are:
Coincidentally, Cru, Pine Ridge Aviation, Southern Oaks, and Vermilion Exploration Company converted to LLC status within days of the contributions to Jindal's campaign.
Four LLCs listing Michael R. Schneider of New Orleans as their manager each made $5,000 contributions to the Jindal campaign which were recorded by the campaign as being received on the same day. The date, companies and amount are:
Jindal campaign finance records don't show a personal contribution from Michael Schneider to the candidate.
Joseph A. Jaeger and Joseph A. Jaeger, Jr., contributed $20,000 to Jindal's campaign in August of this year using four LLCs they control. In addition, Jaeger Jr., contributed $500 to the campaign in January. The date, companies and amounts are:
Jindal's campaign is a hit with the folks who own Dawson Farms and other properties in and around Delhi. Dawson Farms LLC contributed $25,000 to the LCRM, but they've actually given more to Jindal's campaign through a number of their holdings, as well as individually. Lev, Anne, Eva and Seth Dawson each personally contributed $5,000 to the Jindal campaign. Four of their LLCs and a partnership (Beauregard Farms Partnership) also contributed $5,000 a piece to the campaign. The date, LLCs and amounts are:
Six companies and an individual connected to nursing homes in Louisiana and Mississippi combined to provide Jindal's campaign $35,000 over the past two years. E.G. Beebe of Mississippi contributed $5,000 in April. Companies linked to him through partners in an Alexandria insurance company (Magnolia Health Services of Louisiana) provided the rest of the money. Here are the dates, companies and amounts:
Louisiana Extended Care Centers and Medico are owned by Providence Care LLC, which is controlled by David Stallard of Mandeville. The president of Magnolia Management Services of Louisiana is Harold Gamburg, who is an officer in a company with Beebe in Magnolia Properties Inc, predecessor to Magnolia Properties LLC. Provider Professional Services is a Mississippi corporation that lists its Louisiana domicile address as being at the offices of Magnolia Health Services of Louisiana in Alexandria.
Dominick Fazzio controls four LLCs that gave the Jindal campaign $10,000 in each of the past two years. The dates, companies and amounts are:
Another LCRM contributor Otto Candies LLC and its affiliates have been active contributors to the Jindal campaign. Paul Candies, CEO of Otto Candies LLC, gave Jindal's campaign $5,000. Four Candies companies have also contributed to the campaign. The dates, companies and amounts are:
Robert E. Miller of Morgan City contributed $5,000 of his money to Jindal; another $5,000 via an LLC; and another $10,000 through to other corporations that he owns. Here are the dates, companies and amounts:
Miller's individual contribution was booked on the same day.
Todd Patrick Danos of Cut Off contributed $1,000 to Jindal's campaign on November 17, 2006. On the last day of that year, the campaign booked $5,000 contributions from each of three LLCs that he controls. The date, companies and amounts are:
Adrian Bynum's three LLCs contributed $5,000 each to Jindal's campaign in contributions booked on the same day.
Jindal campaign finance records also show that a C.A. Bynum listed at the same address (480 Fairfield Avenue, Gretna) contributed $5,000 to the campaign on April 11, 2006.
Joel N. Broussard used three separate companies to make a series of $5,000 contributions to Jindal's campaign that were booked on the last day of 2006.
On September 5, 2007, the Jindal campaign booked $30,000 in contributions that were directly related to David Voelker, with another $10,000 possibile connected to him. There were four $5,000 checks from Voelker and members of his household. There were also two checks from LLCs he controls or shares control.
F/V Diversified LLC, which shares an address (and initials) with Frantzen/Voelker Investments LLC, also contributed $5,000 to the Jindal campaign that was booked on the same day. Records on file with the Louisiana Secretary of State list only one member of the F/V Diversified company JSC Management LLC, which is managed by Richard C. Conway, Jr. The Jindal campaign booked a $5,000 contribution from JSC Management LLC on September 5, 2007, as well.
Boysie Bollinger had not, as of September, really warmed up to Jindal and his campaign. Bollinger personally paid $1,500 in travel expenses for the campaign in July of this year but, prior to that, LLCs he controls through Bollinger Shipyards LLC had only made two contributions to the Jindal campaign back in 2006. It's a far cry from the heavy lifting Bollinger has been doing for the LCRM and for legislative candidates.
Samuel Camp and Barry LeBlanc are partners in two LLCs that have contributed to Jindal's campaign: Red River Pharma LLC and PAMLAB LLC. In addition, Camp gave $5,000 to the Jindal campaign in December 2006.
M. Victor Dagash manages two LLCs in Baton Rouge. Both LLCs contributed the maximum to Jindal's campaign this year. Dagash also contributed $5,000 in personal funds in 2006.
Anne Dangle of Gretna used two LLCs she controls to give the Jindal campaign a pair of $5,000 contributions earlier this year.
Mark Delesdernier used and LLC and a company to deliver $10,000 to the Jindal campaign in September.
Dane Andreeff of Baton Rouge is the registered agent for an out of state LLC bearing his family name and he is the manager of a Louisiana-based LLC. Both firms maxed out in contributions to Jindal in March of this year.
The Estate of William G. Helis contributed $5,000 to the Jindal campaign on August 10. That corresponds with a similar contribution from Helis Oil & Gas Company LLC, which is controlled by Helis Energy Inc. The president of Helis Energy Inc., is David Kerstein. Is he the executor of the Helis estate?
On December 18, 2006, the Jindal campaign deposited four $5,000 checks from companies led by Sidney W. Lassen.
Lassen is president of Sizeler Realty Company and listed as manager of the three LLCs.
A 2006 advisory opinion by the state Board of Ethics held that a 50 percent stake in an LLC would not mean contributions made by the LLC would apply to the cap on contributions for individuals.
The opinion did not consider the ramifications of freeing up LLC owners to run political shell games with these companies. Many LLC owners are not bothering with the details, they're just writing checks.
Is Bobby Jindal's campaign encouraging this disregard for the state campaign finance law while at the same time he is proclaiming his commitment to bringing ethics reform to the state?
Does he view his mission as so important as to place his campaign and his supporters above the law?