POLITICAL HISTORY: The Conspiracist Vs. The Crooner

By 1973, Orleans Parish District Attorney Jim Garrison was a well-known figure outside of his jurisdiction, due largely to the legal and political rabbit hole he followed down, down, down and further down in the wake of the assassination of late President John F. Kennedy.

By that fall, trapped in the shadow of a trial gone bad, the notoriously tenacious former FBI agent was desperately fighting for his political life. Four years earlier, Garrison and his prosecutors had staged the sensational trial of Clay Shaw, a prominent New Orleans businessman, charging that he been involved in the assassination.

The Louisiana-rooted case drew international press and attention, of course, bringing Garrison to such heights as Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show. As for Shaw, he was acquitted after less than an hour of jury deliberations.

Garrison himself was also on trial in 1973. Federal prosecutors accused him of taking bribes from operators of illegal pinball machines — and keeping them in business by directing the efforts of his office elsewhere. In defense, Garrison said the government was out to get him for investigating the Kennedy assassination.

When reporters questioned him at a press conference, Garrison shouted, “The Department of Justice of the U.S. government is absolutely corrupt!”

Garrison was eventually acquitted that August, after the validity of some evidence was called into question. The lengthy criminal trial had eaten up most of the district attorney’s year, and his re-election campaign would begin in earnest in just a few short weeks.

His opponent was Harry Connick Sr., a former assistant U.S. Attorney who also moonlighted as a singer in the Crescent City. His son, Harry Connick Jr., then an aspiring musician, performed at his father’s campaign events. The candidate struck a memorable tone as well, calling the six-foot-six Garrison a “moral midget.”

It was Connick’s second race against Garrison, having last lost at the polls in 1969. But in the four years since, the incumbent’s political stock had plummeted. Even after Garrison was acquitted of bribery charges, many still seriously questioned his ethics.

Polls showed that most locals viewed Shaw’s trial as nothing more than a publicity stunt funded by their tax dollars. Both of the city’s newspapers, The Times-Picayune and The States-Item, endorsed Connick. Plus, Shaw had an extensive network of friends in the city’s business community, almost all of whom were happy to open their checkbooks to defeat Garrison.

After outspending Garrison by a wide margin, Connick narrowly defeated him on election day by less than 2,500 votes. Dejected, Garrison filed suit against Connick, alleging that voter fraud was responsible for his electoral loss.

The lawsuit, like the petitioner, was defeated. Connick would go on to hold the seat for another 30 years.

SPONSORED: An Update on Louisiana’s Fight Against Human Trafficking

United Way of Acadiana’s Women United group held a powerful session on Aug. 13 for their Food for Thought Series: An Update on Louisiana’s

WEEKLY: An Unusual Race In HD90

This story was originally published for Weekly subscribers on August 9, 2018. Wish you had read it then? Become a part of our elite

THE POLITICAL ABC’s (Alario, Barras & Comedy): Seven answers & one joke each, directly from the gavel masters

It has been nearly three months since the finale of 2018’s edition of session-palooza. That’s plenty of time for House Speaker Taylor Barras

ALFORD’S OPINION COLUMN: An Official Con-Con Reminder

It has been three months since the Louisiana Legislature concluded its regular session without addressing the war cry for a constitutional

RABALAIS’ POLITICAL HISTORY: The Bossier Rep Who Stuck With Nixon Until The Bitter End

On the morning of Aug. 9, 1974, Richard Nixon climbed onto the presidential helicopter, waved goodbye and flew away from the White House

POLITICAL CHATTER

— The Republican Women of Bossier, Women’s Republican Club of Shreveport, Caddo Parish Republican Party and Bossier Parish Republican

#HBD TRACKERS!

#HBD TRACKERS! — Tuesday 08/14: Rep. Dustin Miller, Winston DeCuir Jr. and Phillip Joffrion — Wednesday 08/15: Patrick Gleason, Karen

WEEKLY: House Candidates Reap Nearly $10M

This story was originally published for Weekly subscribers on August 2, 2018. Wish you had read it then? Become a part of our elite

WEEKLY: A Flurry of Secretary of State Campaign Hires

This story was originally published for Weekly subscribers on August 2, 2018. Wish you had read it then? Become a part of our elite

SPONSORED: Opening Doors Through Technology

Opening Doors Through Technology TPG client Microsoft continues to provide advances in technology and open new opportunities for

TRACKER: Jim Out, Podcast In & Other News Of The Day

FOUR THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW Jim Out, Podcast In & Other Jazz 1.) BERNHARD: "I WILL NOT RUN" Will businessman Jim Bernhard run for

ALFORD’S OPINION COLUMN: Has It Started Yet?

You ain’t nobody in Louisiana politics until somebody works for you.  And there are plenty of people being hired by the five major

RABALAIS’ POLITICAL HISTORY: The Consultant Who Could “Garontee” A Win

Justin Wilson will always be remembered for his spicy Cajun cooking, trademark red suspenders and the collection of funny anecdotes he told

POLITICAL CHATTER

— Julia O’Donoghue (@JSODonoghue): "@LouisianaGov says the state is applying for federal grants to approve school safety in wake of Florida

#HBD TRACKERS!

#HBD TRACKERS! — Tuesday 08/07: Former Gov. Edwin Edwards, Ryan Templet, Susan C. Freeman and Jacques Berry — Wednesday 08/08: Marylee

WEEKLY: Why JBE Won’t Thump Trump

This story was originally published for Weekly subscribers on July 26, 2018. Wish you had read it then? Become a part of our elite community

WEEKLY: ACLU Monitoring Officials On Social Media

This story was originally published for Weekly subscribers on July 26, 2018. Wish you had read it then? Become a part of our elite community

SPONSORED: Oceans Healthcare CEO Stuart Archer Wins Prestigious Award

Congratulations to Oceans Healthcare Chairman and CEO Stuart Archer for being recognized as EY’s 2018 Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2018 in the

FISH ON! Tips For The CCA Legislators’ Invitational Fishing Rodeo, Plus More

FISH ON! Alexander Graham Bell, an island of Looziana legislators, loading the Labor Day starter pistol & other random info for

ALFORD: The Millionaire Mythos & The Race For Governor

Is he in?  Is he out?  Does it matter right now?  Even if it doesn't, the possibility of millionaire investor and political flirt Jim

POLITICAL HISTORY: The Conspiracist Vs. The Crooner

By 1973, Orleans Parish District Attorney Jim Garrison was a well-known figure outside of his jurisdiction, due largely to the legal and

POLITICAL CHATTER

— The Advocate: “Animal welfare advocates aren't happy about the Tiger Truck Stop's recent acquisition of a camel and baby coati, but state

#HBD TRACKERS!

— Tuesday 07/31: Acting Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, Don Cravins Jr., Rodney Mallett, Julio Melara, Jimmy Lagarde and Barrett Murphy —

WEEKLY: Special Election Trend To Continue

This story was originally published for Weekly subscribers on July 19, 2018. Wish you had read it then? Become a part of our elite community

REVIEW: Livingston Memoir A Candid Account

This story was originally published for Weekly subscribers on July 19, 2018. Wish you had read it then? Become a part of our elite community