Questions raised about LABI's Prez Waguespack's US Senate editorial
Written by  // Monday, 03 November 2014 14:47 //

labi One of Louisiana top business voices, President and CEO of Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI), Stephen Waguespack,  has written an interesting and, I believe, controversial  column, today involving tomorrow’s  elections,  and which specifically addresses the upcoming U.S. Senate race.


The column, entitled “Vote where your mouth is” did not endorse any particular candidate in this election. Instead,  it clearly advocated to its members and to the public, NOT to vote for US Senator and Democratic, Mary Landrieu.

Initially, I was taken back by his column, not because a necessarily disagree with some of his comments but I do not recall another time that the president of this organization would endorse a federal candidate.

Never would I believe that Waguespack would be supporting Pres. Obama and his policies as he has been very clear in his disagreement with the president on virtually all issues.

Nor did his column specifically mention any candidate by name.

LABI is prohibited to endorse any federal candidate. The question I raised, however, is can and should the president of LABI, make an obvious appeal in a federal election not to support a candidate, even if the president is not specifically endorsing any of her opponents?

In particular, in his column, Waguespack wrote:

Much has been written about the U.S. Senate race, and I can speak on behalf of every Louisiana resident to say that our mailboxes, TVs and home phones are ready for this race to end. The same can probably be said for those that live in the 5th and 6th Congressional Districts. 

Despite the campaign fatigue felt by many, these races are very important to our prosperity. The Louisiana Senate race is like several other high-profile Senate races around the country asking a similar question:  Is supposed clout with an unpopular president more or less important than inserting a new voice that is more able to speak out forcefully against his unpopular policies? The Congressional races have been much simpler to understand since virtually every candidate has been clear they will push back on the president’s policies on behalf of Louisiana.

As I travel this state and visit with our business members, the chorus is deafening from the amount of concern they have with Washington, D.C. The ever-increasing role of government in every aspect of their lives through runaway regulations, mandates, restrictions, taxes and requirements is one of the top issues I hear from employers. 

Our members want to grow their businesses, expand their operations and hire more Louisiana people; but they are scared to death that when they do that Washington will send another unforeseen cost or mandate their way that will throw their game plan out of balance. The result is an economy that does not trust what it feels and does not act with confidence. This economic trepidation is a result of the actionist policies coming from Washington, D.C. these days and driven by the current administration.

The president’s policies and regulations are holding our economy back and making it harder for Louisiana to grow out of the national recession. For this reason alone, turnout should be a no-brainer for any Louisiana voter who wants to send Washington a message that this expansionist approach to over-regulation is not acceptable.

But if this type of reasoning doesn’t motivate you to vote, the reality is that there are numerous other compelling reasons around the state to turn out to vote.

While Waguespack did not specifically name Landrieu or her opponents, one would be death dumb and blind to read anything else by this column other than a ”don’t vote for Mary Landrieu” editorial.  Nor did he mention Obama by name but he sure referred to the president by his title and there is no ambiguity as to whom the LABI president is referring to in his opinion piece.

I asked the organization whether they are allowed to endorse a candidate or to dissuade its members not to support a candidate in a federal election.

His communications director initially wrote a response stating:

Our members are very concerned with many of the the policies and regulations coming out of DC.  We have consistently made that clear in our communications. In fact, we recently released a study that showed federal regulations now cost the US economy more than $2 trillion annually. We also recently partnered with NAM on a study to show the latest ozone proposals from the EPA will threaten our manufacturing renaissance by putting 117,000 Louisiana job equivalents at risk annually and costing the state’s businesses $189 billion in added compliance costs. We will continue to make these points clear in every way we can in the hopes that the federal government will change its approach to over regulating our economy. We need a federal government more focused on helping the private sector grow and expand, rather than one focused on expanding the power of the the public sector.

Later, Stephen Waguespack responded to me with the following:

Hey Stephen, hope all is well. 

We are not endorsing a candidate in this race because we do not endorse in federal races. We do strongly oppose many of the policies coming out of Washington, D.C. these days so we hope that whichever candidate wins will be a strong advocate for reversing that trend.  This race has been well documented to be one that is a question of whether clout is a more/less important asset than having an independent voice.  The voters will consider that choice and make that decision. Regardless of the outcome, we will continue to advocate for a strong voice in the senate to push back on governmental growth and over regulation of the free market. 

Thanks, take care. 

Again, I personally firmly believe that his editorial is strongly urging his members and the public to not support Sen. Mary Landrieu. I’ll leave it up to his members to decide if it is a violation of their bylaws.  I will leave the publi and them to decide whether or not advocating for the defeat of a federal candidate is the same as endorsing another candidate, notwithstanding the organization and its leader's strong opposition to that candidate’s party positions and/or its party leader and in this case President of the United States.


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