Hypocrisy marks reaction to PAC legal proceeds
A politicized organization connected to the beneficiary of a court decision that strikes down a government regulation receives reimbursement from the state of Louisiana for its legal costs. Then a hue and cry arises from some quarters, not complaining about how the state never should have defended its jurisprudence but about how the winner should return voluntarily the money due to Lambda Legal and the Forum for Equality to taxpayers to help out a strapped state … uh, maybe not, considering with whom we’re dealing here.
Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to protect a class of individuals, whose class is defined solely by their behavior and this behavior is not granted in the document special Constitutional status unlike that emanating from political or religious belief, from states refusing to grant them marriage licenses because they are of the same sex. Louisiana had a constitutional prohibition against such marriages, which had spillover effects including adoptions. As a result of that ruling, a similar case as that decided by the nation’s highest court that was working its way through the judiciary in the state and another dealing with adoptions were concluded in favor of the plaintiffs, who challenged the state ban and therefore will have the state pay their costs and who were represented by the above organizations and a New Orleans law firm to which they owe funds as a result.
But when those declarations were made by the various courts involved, no pleas emerged for the special interest groups involved not to bill the parties who then could get the reimbursement from the state. If there was any grumbling at all, it surrounded the fact that the state had spent $330,000 in defending the rule of law.
Yet not long after in regards to a case last year, where a political action committee announced it had received a similar kind of reimbursement under almost identical circumstances, howling commenced. The Fund for Louisiana’s Future successfully had sued the state to throw out its law preventing donations to organizations like it of over $100,000 in an election cycle, with a payment of $70,000 from the state to it revealed in regulatory filings last week. The group is unaffiliated with Sen. David Vitter but is run by past supporters of his and works on behalf of his election this fall as governor.
Naturally, politics intervened in reactions. A Vitter gubernatorial opponent, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, and the endorsers of state Rep. John Bel Edwards for that office, Louisiana Democrat leaders and their party, separately said Vitter “forced” the state to hand over the reimbursement, with Dardenne adding that Vitter somehow should get the PAC to return voluntarily the money to “give taxpayers a break.” Never mind, of course, that the law does not let Vitter have any connection to this PAC and he had nothing to do with the money’s transfer in the first place.
Ironically, the argument for charity from case winners is much better concerning the one discovering the right to same sex marriage within the Constitution than from the one limiting the First Amendment. It took emotive argumentation employing a breathtaking judicial activism to find any justification to advocate that the Fourteenth Amendment trumped the Tenth for the former, reasoning that more analytical jurists rejected, while the latter on its face was a clear violation of freedom of speech, as spelled out in previous cases, that the state should have conceded immediately.
Obviously, unprincipled hypocrisy explains Democrats’ reactions on these two cases; the challenge that turned out to their liking they want to see the plaintiffs get every penny, while with the one that didn’t this payment suddenly becomes tainted and they hope to make it a political football to sully Vitter and to boost Edwards’ fortunes. In Dardenne’s case, it’s simply campaign opportunism that looks to move himself up in the polls.
But if they really want to put their money where their mouths are, they do have their own PACs collecting money separate from the Dardenne and Edwards’ campaigns (the Democrats’ styled more as “anti-Vitter” than “pro-Edwards’) that could donate the funds back to the state. After all, these also were beneficiaries of the court ruling, so if they feel so strongly about a bonus in the future of taking in more money as a result, they should give back.
Yet regardless of the reaction to or lack of action concerning the revelation, the response of Dardenne and the Democrats to it tells us something unflattering about both.
Posted by Jeff Sadow at 09:50