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New-found Democrat ethics interest denotes opportunism

Welcome aboard to ethics reform, Louisiana Democrats – it’s about time you joined the party after obstructing it all these years. For the past decade, a debate whose pro-reform side almost exclusively featured Republicans has obtained so much momentum on that side of the issue it seems on it Democrat legislative leaders now feel compelled to paint stripes on their figurative horses and call themselves zebras.

State Reps. Don Cazayoux (now running for Congress) and Eric LaFleur (in a few days to become a senator) asserted in fact they weren’t latecomers to the effort, giving as an example a (weak) 2005 special session bill to disclose hurricane contract work by elected officials and their relatives. Selective memories have they: the pair fought against strong provisions in bills on this subject both in committee and on the floor.

At least state Reps. Gary Smith and Michael Jackson are hat and cattle when they speak of ethics reform. During last year’s debate about Jackson’s HB 730 which attempted to do much of what incoming Gov. Bobby Jindal wants in regards to ethics reform, Smith spoke in favor of greater coverage of the bill. But when Smith claims “Democrats over the last few years led the charge on ethics reform,” he convenient forgets then that his now-ally on the issue Cazayoux spoke against what Smith had argued, and that it was (then-)Democrat senators Pres. Don Hines and Robert Adley who made parliamentary maneuvers to kill Jackson’s bill.

Even on a matter as simple as allocating tickets to events to legislators, who can forget it was Democrats like state Sen. Rob Marionneaux who in 2004 bleated about how it was being blown all out of proportion by the media, who then authored a resolution to confine them to the gallery in the Senate? And then the next year when Republicans put forward a bill to ban that (which Democrats are now supporting), Democrats (and some Republicans) scuttled it?

The fact of the matter is, all the way back to Reconstruction Democrats have enjoyed healthy majorities in the Legislature and controlled the governor’s mansion for all but 14 of those years. If they ever had been serious about ethics reform on the scale Jindal has proposed, they would have been passed it into law long ago. Among the majority in the party, there’s no genuine enthusiasm for it. Instead, recognize the statements of Cazayoux and most other Democrats reek of political opportunism as they see the relevancy of their party in the state policy-making policy slip away against the growing Republican/reform tide hurtling across Louisiana.

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