With the political brains of the operation otherwise occupied with his own political survival, the Louisiana Committee for a Republican Majority (LCRM) continued to raise money at a prodigious clip in the month since the end of the September 10 reporting period, but with not much of an idea of what to do with it.
In the report it filed on October 9, covering the period between September 11 and September 30, the LCRM reported raising $130,000 through just three contributions. In what should have been one of the busiest periods of the election cycle (the 40 days leading up to the October 20th primary) the LCRM reported spending just $37,512.55, and only a relatively small percentage of that on campaigns.
The report indicates that the LCRM leaders did manage to spend $1,327.78 on a "dinner meeting" at Drago's Restaurant in Metairie on September 17. That was about a fifth of the only direct campaign spending activity they reported $6,957.48 to Political Ink LLC of Richmond, VA, for "Direct Mail Independent Expenditures." That money was spent on September 27, so maybe that was something that was decided upon while dining at Drago's earlier in the month?
There were also a few in-kind contributions reported.
The LCRM entered October with $811,619.36 on hand.
Baton Rouge contractor Thomas Turner pitched in another $25,000, while Charles Lamar of the billboard Lamars put up $5,000. That brought Turner's ante up to $75,000, while Lamar is up to $10,000. Manor LLC, a Shreveport-based entity managed by Edward J. Crawford III, contributed $25,000 on September 28. That was the first money LCRM received from this organization.
A special report filed on October 3, shows that Park Investments of Metairie ponied up another $100,000 contribution. They later reported making a pair of separate $5,000 contributions on October 11 to the GNOR PACK (probably the Greater New Orleans Republican PAC) and the Louisiana Pro-Life Alliance in Baton Rouge.
Other than that, the LCRM for all the world like a bunch of trust-fund baby college frat boys: well-funded, well-fed and with no particular objective other than staying so.
Depends what you mean by 'Justice'
The big September catch for the LCRM was a $100,000 contribution from an organization called American Justice Partnership (AJP). The significance lies not just the size of the catch, but in the organization's national standing.
The AJP is based in Lansing, Michigan, and appears to be about the business of making the world (or, at least those parts of it where they can get some traction) a corporate liability-free zone.
Their website actually describes the group this way:
The American Justice Partnership is a national nonprofit coalition of leading corporations, think tanks, foundations, trade associations, individuals and organizations advocating for legal reform at the state level.
The AJP does not list anyone from Louisiana on their list of state leaders. With so many people in in the storm affected areas of Mississippi and south Louisiana suing insurance companies and/or the federal government in the wake of Katrina and Rita, it might be a bit difficult to find Louisiana advocates for the notion that insurance companies and other corporations should somehow not be held accountable for their actions.
No doubt, the $100,000 contribution to LCRM will serve as something of an ice-breaker in the rarified circles in which the core of the organization runs and might lead to the appearance of a Louisiana 'leader' for the organization, or even a Louisiana support group.
A story in Sunday's Baton Rouge Advocate connected the LCRM (through Louisiana Action Council) to New York real estate tycoon Howard Rich who has been using various of his limited liability corporations (and Louisiana Action Council) to contribute thousands of dollars into various legislative races across the state.
The AJP's contribution, the Rich connection, combined with those of Bob Perry and other national conservative players who have contributed to LCRM does solidify the group's status as the leader of the Third Wave of national conservative effort to turn Louisiana into a franchise for the national movement.
In keeping with the current conservative enthrallment with no-bid contracts and the abandonment of such tired old business practices like performance reviews, the LCRM's status is not likely to be threatened unless and until someone decides they actually want to see some results for all the money the organization has raised.
The LCRM has taken on the earmarks of the failed federal response to Katrina and/or the failed U.S. effort in Iraq. That is, it's beginning to look like the purpose of the operation was to make sure the consultants and contractors make money, but not much in the way of movement towards achieving the goal rebuilding New Orleans and the Gulf Coast with Katrina; winning the war and rebuilding the country's infrastructure in Iraq; and winning a Republican majority in the Louisiana House in the case of the LCRM.
The $330,000 raised by the LCRM since September 10, brings total money raised by the group since it cranked up in January of 2006 to $1,954,802. That is an amazing amount of money for a group not tied to a specific candidate or campaign.
What is just as striking, however, is how little of the money raised has actually gone toward the effort of helping the campaigns of Republican candidates.
Through the period ending September 10, the LCRM had endorsed only three candidates Kyle Ardoin, Jim Morris and Mitch Theriot. LCRM gave Ardoin $5,000; Theriot got $3,500; and Morris got $2,500 (plus some indirect direct mail expenditures in support of his spring special election candidacy).
They had also spent $15,258.48 earlier in the year direct mail efforts in connection with special elections for House seats in the spring of this year. $5,978.48 was spent on March attack campaign against Deborah Langhoff in District 94, while Morris benefited from two direct mail efforts by LCRM in the spring. The LCRM reported spending $2,410 for "Postage" in connection with Morris's campaign and another $6,870 for a direct mail piece also in connection with the campaign.
Which means that through September 10, the LCRM had raised $1.6 million and spent a grand total of $26,258.48 directly supporting Republican candidates and attacking a Democrat or two.
Add to that $24,400 in in-kind contributions listed in the September report, and the total LCRM support for Republicans in their quest to take control of the Louisiana House tallies up to a grand total of $50,658.48 or 3.1 percent of the LCRM's gross receipts through that period.
So much for the efficiency of the private sector.
In the month since that report was filed, there has been a bit more activity, but not much.
In the last 20 days of September, the LCRM gave a grand total of $12,470 to four candidates and their campaigns. The lucky beneficiaries were: J.C. Warren (House District 37) $570; Al Carter (HD 55) $5,000; Michael McMyne (HD 92) $3,500; and Kirby Roy (HD 28) $3,400.
Three candidates received in-kind contributions totalling $8,100. The three were: Anthony Ligi (House District 79) $1,500 for campaign software; Joe Harrison (HD 51) polling data valued at $3,300; and Jonathan Perry (HD 47) polling data valued at $3,300.
So, in a month where the group brought in a total of $330,000, the LCRM contributed $20,570 directly to campaigns, with close to half of that being in-kind contributions. Add the $10,000 contributed to the two PACs mentioned earlier, for a grand total of September and early October contributions of $30,570.
So, the LCRM's $1.9 million campaign effort has produced $81,228.48 in direct and indirect support for Republican candidates and campaigns. That's just 4.155 percent of the group's total receipts.
It Ain't Over Yet
While the LCRM effort (thankfully) appears unfocused at present, any organization sitting on $900,000 in an election cycle has to be considered formidable. The LCRM malaise could linger so long as Vitter's troubles continue, or they could be waiting to play in a more focused manner in the run-off where their dollars can be put to effective use in head-to-head Republican versus Democrat races.
A former LCRM operative whom I ran into in a Lafayette coffee shop recently said that, from his perspective, the LCRM fell apart in the wake of the Vitter scandal. That maybe the case in terms of organizational focus, but the LCRM still brought in more than half a million dollars since that scandal broke; and that's no small accomplishment.
Still, while individual members of the group have shifted their contributions from LCRM to direct contributions to campaigns and candidates, the opportunity exists for the group to regain its bearings either in the run-off cycle or in what was always viewed as Phase II of the venture: the 2008 U.S. Senate and Congressional races here.