The organization is CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics) out of Washington DC and the paper which has broken the story is the New York Times.
On the front page of CREW’s website is a rotating image with Governor Jindal and his wife Supriya alongside an apple on top of a stack of school books and a blackboard with the chalk writing “campaign donors + charitable donations with a line underscoring representing “equals”.
Underneath is a link saying “CREW Investigates: The Jindal Foundation” which then takes one to the following:
Governor Bobby Jindal’s (R-LA) campaign donors recognize the value of strategic charitable giving. CREW researchers found nine companies that contributed to Gov. Jindal’s campaigns have also collectively pledged $790,000 to a charitable foundation headed by First Lady Supriya Jindal. That’s a lot more cash than the $5,000 that Louisiana campaign finance laws allow donors to contribute directly to the governor’s campaign committee. Also, Gov. Jindal’s chief fundraiser coincidentally serves as treasurer for the foundation, which distributes interactive whiteboard technology to schools across Louisiana.
The companies donating money have a lot of incentive to build up their influence with Gov. Jindal. Not only do these companies make tens of millions of dollars doing business with the state of Louisiana, they employ a small army of state-level lobbyists dedicated to turning their wish lists into reality, and they’ve benefited directly from some of Gov. Jindal’s actions. Read the details in CREW’s report here.
Gov. Jindal’s donors aren’t the first to use a family charitable foundation as a path to influencing a politician. But just because it represents business as usual doesn’t mean it’s acceptable.
Reporter Eric Lipton wrote about CREW’s findings in The New York Times today:
"The foundation has collected nearly $1 million in previously unreported pledges from major oil companies, insurers and other corporations in Louisiana with high-stakes regulatory issues..."
"It is among the newest of charities set up by elected officials, including members of Congress, or their families that are mutually beneficial: companies seeking to influence politicians or curry favor can donate unrestricted amounts of money, while the officials benefit from the good will associated with charitable work financed by businesses."
Governor Jindal was also featured in CREW's 2010 Worst Governors Report
(Bayoubuzz Note: the fundraiser in chief appears to be Alexandra Bautsch who was brutally beaten in the French Quarter this past spring by protesters of a republican event.)
In the New York Times article, Eric Lipton quotes the Jindal Administration to say the following:
A spokesman for the governor said he had not personally intervened to help any of the charity’s corporate donors advance their agendas before the state government. Any suggestion that the foundation is a way to lobby the governor or thank him for a past action is ridiculous, Mr. Jindal’s press secretary said.
“It is a completely nonpolitical, nonpartisan organization created by the first lady, who as an engineer and the mother of three children, has a passion for helping our young people learn science and math,” said Kyle Plotkin, the press secretary. “Anything other than this reality has plainly been dreamed up by partisan hacks living in a fantasy land.”
On its website, CREW displays its Scandals and Scoundrels which features its investigations. The organization currently has 6 Democratic US Congresspersons and 5 Republicans under investigation.
Here is the list:
Members of Congress Currently Under Investigation
- Representative Ken Calvert (R-CA)
- Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL)
- Representative Gregory Meeks (D-NY)
- Representative Gary Miller (R-CA)
- Representative Timothy Murphy (R-PA)
- Representative Laura Richardson (D-CA)
- Representative Jean Schmidt (R-OH)
- Representative Pete Visclosky (D-IN)
- Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA)