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Tuesday, 30 September 2014 15:56
US Senate race debates in North Louisiana; Double Dipping
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capitol-dc U.S. Senate debate

    Centenary College will be the site for a U.S. Senate debate featuring the three major candidates – incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, and Republican retired Air Force Colonel Rob Maness.


    The event is set forTuesday, October 14 in the Marjorie Lyons Playhouse from 7 to 8 p.m.  It will be broadcast live on Louisiana Public Broadcasting (LPB) stations around the state.
    Forum organizers are the Council for a Better Louisiana (CABL) and LPB.  It is being underwritten by AARP with additional support provided by the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce.
    Attendance at the debate is by invitation only.  It will be moderated by Dr. Christopher Parker, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Centenary.
    While there are eight candidates on the ballot in the U.S. Senate race, Landrieu, Cassidy, and Maness were the only ones to meet the criteria set forth by CABL.
    Candidates had to receive at least 5% support in a recognized, nonpartisan or news media poll prior to the debate; or raised and spent at least $250,000 in campaign contributions, established a campaign committee with a treasurer and campaign staff, and filed campaign  finance reports with the Federal Elections Commission prior to the debate.
    It is the second and final time the three candidates will appear together in a debate.  Cassidy has refused to participate in three of the five debates that were scheduled.
    While he appeared in one at the Baton Rouge Press Club, he has turned down a joint debate by KNOE-TV in Monroe and KALB-TV in Alexandria, as well as debates sponsored by WDSU-TV in New Orleans and WWL-TV in New Orleans.
    The KNOE/KALB debate was canceled because  the stations did not feel a partial date was productive.  No word on the other debates, which are scheduled in October.

Williams denies double-dipping
    Even though three separate investigations have concluded that state Rep. and mayoral candidate Patrick Williams double-dipped on his legislative expenses, he boldly said at the Broadmoor Neighborhood Association (BNA) forum last week that he has done nothing wrong.
    Investigations by KTBS-TV, former assistant U.S. attorney Michael Wainwright, and noted journalist Tom Aswell of Louisianavoice.com have found that Williams habitually double-dipped, which means he was compensated twice for his expenditures.
    By double-dipping, Williams had the taxpayers reimburse him, while at the same time getting reimbursed from his campaign fund, thereby profiting from his expenses.
    For the first time at any of the mayoral forums, the subject of double-dipping came up.  But BNA forum moderator, former Mayor John Hussey, had to be told twice by forum sponsors to ask the question, which had been submitted on a 3x5 card.
    He never did ask the actual question, but finally and reluctantly mentioned double-dipping to Williams, who had obviously been apprehensive about the subject being brought up. After the PACE forum, he asked a sponsor of the BNA forum if it would be.  When informed it likely would, he said he didn’t know if he wanted to attend.  
    He did attend, showing up at the last minute.  When asked about double-dipping, he leaped to his feet and said, “Double-dipping is nothing that I’ve done.  I’ve actually followed the rules, and if there was anything that was not in line, I’ve worked with the accountant to put everything back in place.”
    The question not asked was, “Mr. Williams, you said on KEEL radio that the media was conducting a smear campaign against you.  How can breaking the law 45 times in one year by double-dipping be a smear campaign?”
    Actually, there were two questions aimed at Williams about his double-dipping, but Hussey, for reasons only he knows, refused to ask them.  He was seen chatting with some of the “brain trust” of Williams prior to the forum.
    Investigations are ongoing into Willaims’ finances.  A review of two years of his legislative finances by Wainwright indicates that he profited by about $8,000 from double-dipping.  Other years are being looked at.
    Also being looked at are loans he received rom Shreveport’s Department of Community  Development back in the late 1990s and in the early 2000s.
    Williams’ so-called “brain trust” has turned his campaign into a negative one, looking at the personal lives of other candidates and members of the media and spreading vicious rumors in an intimidation campaign.
    But one local politico had this to say: “What is totally appalling is the number of elected officials and respected business persons who are endorsing him and pouring money into his campaign.  They apparently see nothing wrong with breaking the law.”     

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Lou Gehrig Burnett

Lou Gehrig Burnett is the publisher of Fax-Net, a North-Louisiana newsletter.

Website: www.faxnetupdate.com/
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