Republican U.S. Rep. John Fleming is running TV ads proudly tying his agenda to that of Donald Trump (though Fleming may now wish to put distance between him and the GOP presidential nominee in light of the release of a recording of Trump’s recent conversation about women).
Democrat Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell is opting for his “straight talk” TV ads, lashing out at fellow Democrat Caroline Fayard as never having held office and that she “wants to start at the top.”
Republican State Treasurer John Kennedy would “rather drink weed killer.”
Independent former state Alcohol and Tobacco Control Director Troy Hebert just wants to sue somebody.
Absent in all the white noise are any real solutions to problems the nation faces—such as rotting infrastructure, jobs, education, climate change, and closing the racial and economic gaps that continue to divide the country.
And then there is that mysterious ESAFund.com TV ad that attacks both Boustany and Fleming.
The ad blasts Fleming for living in a “million-dollar mansion” in the Washington area and Boustany for getting rich while in Congress and for voting for a pay raise for himself.
Well, as it happens, both Boustany and Fleming are physicians so they probably are rich and likely can afford to live where they choose.
As for Boustany’s “vote” to raise his pay, that claim is downright misleading—and inaccurate.
The fact is, in 1989 Congress passed an obscure bill designed to allow them to avoid the stigma of voting for pay raises. The way it works is if there is no vote specifically not to raise congressional salaries, the pay raise kicks in automatically. Cute.
Accordingly, members of Congress do not vote for pay raises—because they don’t have to—and any claim to the contrary is simply untrue.http://www.politifact.com/florida/article/2011/nov/23/truth-about-congressional-pay-raises/
So, just who is this ESAFund that is behind this attack ad?
Well, it is, of course, a super Pac and it has already spent $5.5 million on the 2016 federal elections, including the ad currently being run in Louisiana.https://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/detail.php?cmte=C00489856
Officially known as Ending Spending Action Fund, it claims to be “an independent organization that proudly supports candidates regardless of party affiliation who favor enhancing free enterprise, reducing the size of government, and balancing our nation’s budget.” http://esafund.com/
All of which sounds awfully close to the Tea Party’s platform except ESAFund and the Tea Party often find themselves supporting opposing candidates as in Kansas’ First Congressional District. http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/house-races/289027-conservative-allies-on-opposite-sides-in-gop-primary-fight
Perhaps the biggest irony of ESAFund is that it is a super PAC that is campaigning to end Citizens United, the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision that opened the floodgates for super PAC spending in political campaigns.http://endcitizensunited.org/ending-spending-action-fund/
And while the current ad blitz goes out of its way to slam Boustany and Fleming, who, coincidentally, are near the top in most polls, it is careful not to attach its own candidate’s name to the ad. That’s because super PACs are limited as to their direct involvement in the campaigns of individual candidates.
A quick glance at recent history, however, reveals an undeniable link to Kennedy’s campaign. In fact, when former Kennedy top aide Jason Redmond shut down his own Super Pac, Make Louisiana Proud, in July of this year, about $120,000 of its cash and in-kind funds were transferred to ESAFund and ESAFund reciprocated by officially endorsing Kennedy.
All of which makes sense. Kennedy, who once seemed to have an insurmountable lead, has seen his support slipping. That should come as no surprise, given the political heavyweights who are also seeking the Senate seat being vacated by David Vitter.
With other candidates hitting the airwaves with their ads, it was inevitable that Kennedy would see some of his support being drained away, especially given his original decision not to advertise until after the general election. That obviously has changed and Kennedy has begun his own TV ad campaign.
A super PAC is freed from restrictions imposed upon traditional campaign committees so long as it:
Neither gives money directly to a candidate or other political committees that give directly to candidates, and
It does not coordinate how it spends its money with a federal candidate.
Here is a list of http://esafund.com/candidates/ endorsed by ESA.
So, while the ESAFund ad attempts to sound principled, and with no attempt here to defend Boustany or Fleming, it still is an attack ad and nothing more.
Before accepting any ad, especially those employing actors posing as concerned Louisiana citizens who almost certainly are not residents of this state (who knows where they actually reside and vote?), remember the number one rule:
Follow the money.