Monday, 04 January 2016 11:18
Ourso tells how Gumbo PAC, which helped slay David Vitter, started its journey mission
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ourso treyThe Louisiana Governor's race could be considered a text-book case study to how a candidate could come out of nowhere and beat the most powerful politician in the state.  That is exactly what occurred when Jon Bel Edwards bested the rest of the pack and then defeated David Vitter to replace Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. 

Edwards ran a brilliant campaign.

However, so did the Gumbo PAC, who was behind the Anybody But Vitter movement, which essentially, was a Louisiana-based Super PAC funded specifically to defeat Vitter, for governor.

But, who was Gumbo PAC?  How did it get started?  Did it have any issues in raising money?

These were some of the issues discussed when Bayoubuzz's publisher Stephen Sabludowsky interviewed the Gumbo PAC's Director, Trey Ourso.

Here is part 2 of that interview.  Part 3, tomorrow: 

SABLUDOWSKY: So how did you get involved with the super PAC, Gumbo PAC?

OURSO: Last year in 2014, Michael (Beychok) and I did a lot of work for the Senate majority PAC, Sen. Harry Reid's PAC. We worked for U.S. Senate races across the country in 2014. And we work with national super PACs quite a bit over the years. I still do some lobbying for the trial bar here in Louisiana, have a relationship with them and back in February, Vitter gave a speech to the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association in Lake Charles, where he basically said--my number one priority when I'm elected governor is to institute Texas and Oklahoma-style tort reform in state of Louisiana.  And, so there were a lot of folks on our side of the equation that were pretty worried about that just for the rights of average citizens and access to the civil justice system and they were looking for something to do. 

Most all the guys from that group were supporting Jon Bell Edwards, none of them were supporting David Vitter, obviously because he had a long track record of being anti-consumer and against the plaintiffs bar and so I, in meetings with them suggested, why don't you let me put this PAC together and really, we didn't know, you never really know how these things are going to be handled once you set them up. And so I had three goals--one, was to create a structure, legally, campaign finance, to build a team of consultants, to build a structure, so that if at some point, the race shifted so that we would going to be funded, we would be ready to go, it just takes a while to get these things-- you just don't say, I'm a super PAC and then tomorrow all of a sudden you're on TV. So that takes a while. And the second thing, as I mentioned, to try to chip away at the aura of invincibility that they had and the third was to resurrect the prostitution scandal. I would like to say that I had the foresight back in March and April to say that oh, in October the Democratic Governors Association is going to get involved in a race and that not only are they going to buy into the race here in Louisiana but they're going to through buy into it through Gumbo PAC to the tune of two to $4 million. I wish I could say I was smart enough back then to plan for that but I really wasn't. But it worked out that way.

SABLUDOWSKY: That was very surprising obviously the polls indicated at the time, in the spring Jon Bel, I don't think that he, I don't think that he really registered at all, not until maybe June, July, and certainly October that it looked like he could probably take it all. In terms of creating the super PAC, you mentioned about creating legal structure, how long did that take because a lot of people including myself or pretty ignorant as relates to super PACs and what's involved.

OURSO: The first thing I did was hire a law firm out of Washington DC Sandler, Reif, Lamb, something like that. Some guys I've known. I served at the director of the Democratic Party from 1997 to 2001 and Neil Reif was the attorney for the DNC back in 2001. I've known these guys for long time. They specialize in election law. So I hired them to basically make sure that we complied with all of the legalities of the Pac but also to handle all of the campaign finance reporting and it took a few weeks to kind of get going, to get the paperwork and really we had to decide, there's a Super PAC, which I started, Gumbo PAC is a Super PAC, that means I can accept and spend unlimited amounts of money from any source but I just need to have to report every dollar in and every dollar out. So my campaign reports were filed on the same schedule as the gubernatorial candidates. So everybody, when we follow next report in a week or two they'll be able to see all the money, where it came from, they'll be able to see exactly how we spent it. It's all very transparent. There's two other type of super PACs if you will, there's a C-4 and there's a 527, both of those are federal designations both of those can accept unlimited sources of money but they have more restrictions on exactly how they can spend it, on what purposes they can spend it but they don't have to report their sources of contributions. A 527 for instance if you remember when John Kerry, was running for president, the swift boat ads,  those were done by a 527 against John Kerry.  

We did have a 527 but we really didn't use it, I chose not to do the C-4 or the 527 because of the restrictions on the way that allowed you to use the money and so it was a bit of a risk because for while it was really hard for us to raise money because people were worried about David Vitter taking political retribution against them because even in the off chance that we would have been successful and David Vitter not elected governor and everybody saying, shucks, he still going to be a United States senator and I don't want my name to show up on his campaign finance report and that Vitter is going to have it in for them forever--and as it turned out, it worked, it worked. 


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