Monday, November 14th, 2022

Baton Rouge, Louisiana


Don’t you and I deserve a campaign break? For months, we’ve been suffering through accusatory political rhetoric from both parties. I don’t know about you, but I think we all should tune out for a while. After all, the cost of these 2022 federal elections will exceed $10 billion, with most of this money going to advertising trying to win us over. And guess what? All this political marketing changed virtually nothing.

Both political parties accused the other as big soft on crime, not protecting the borders, and doing little to stop inflation and high gas prices. The message was clear. Throw the incumbent bums out. So guess what? After all that money was spent, voters went to the polls and kept nearly all the bums in place.

It’s no secret that, in the majority of elections, there are two key elements in getting elected to a major political office in Louisiana. The first is money. I’ve forgotten what the second element is. In highly contested statewide races, Louisiana often is listed as the most expensive state, per capita, in the nation. Remember Lisa Minnelli singing in the movie Cabaret that “Money makes the World Go Round.” She sure was right when it comes to political spending

Corporate campaign money has been bountiful in recent Louisiana campaigns. The war chests of the present Bayou State officials are filled with corporate checks, both from in and out of the state. Members of the Public Service Commission are actively supported by the corporations they regulate. LLCs formed by law firms are big players in Louisiana judicial elections. And the Louisiana Insurance Commissioner has actively solicited major out of state companies the department regulates for major campaign funding.

Here’s the real problem in Louisiana. And it’s not just corporate contributions. It’s the flooding of out of state money into Louisiana campaigns. Hundreds of millions of dollars pour into Louisiana political war chests every election cycle. How do Louisiana citizens benefit when large amounts of campaign cash flood into the state to influence Louisiana elections? Isn’t there a built-in conflict of interest as to where an official’s loyalties lie when large out of state donations are accepted?

Hey, I have an idea. There is a simple and constitutional way to keep Louisiana elected officials focused on Louisiana issues. A candidate for public office should only raise campaign funds in the district from where he or she is running. If you are running statewide, raise all your financial resources within the state. If you are running parish wide, your limits are within your home parish. Legislators, congressmen, and U.S. Senators would be limited to raising campaign dollars from within their respective districts. Simple.

Keep fund raising local. Make the candidates focus and be responsive solely to the voters in the districts that put them in office. No soliciting by candidates for campaign funds from any person or group that resides out of district or out of state. Oh, there would be loud protests from lobbyists who hand out the campaign dollars to gain their “special access.” And incumbents, who can work the system from day one in office would object at having to forgo all the many out of district fund raising opportunities. But the voters would be the beneficiaries.

If by accident a few new faces get elected, unfortunately we all will have to take heed of the song by The Who. Their refrain sums up a voter’s dilemma well.

Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss
Don’t get fooled again, no, no
Don’t get fooled again.

So don’t count on any groundswell of change. As long as out of state money floods the state, it’s going to be the same old, same old in both Baton Rouge and Washington.

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the South and on websites worldwide. You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownla.com. You can also look over a list of books he has published at www.thelisburnpress.com.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email