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December 12, 2017 — Issue No. 125

By Jeremy Alford ( & Sarah Gamard (


But why, exactly?

The Pelecanus occidentalis, or brown pelican, is the official state bird of Louisiana, which is also known as the Pelican State.

The bird appears on our flag and on our state seal. Specimens can be found all along the coast, and even in our homegrown art.

But have you ever wondered why?

Dr. Terry L. Jones, a professor of history at UL-Monroe, wondered as well, apparently, and put a piece together for Country Roads magazine.

Jones discovered that our inaugural governor, C.C. Claiborne, actually chose the eagle for Louisiana’s first official seal, but later flip-flopped to the pelican — likely as a nod to the state’s Catholic heritage.

“In ancient times, people believed the pelican would tear the flesh from its own body to feed its young in times of famine,” Jones writes in the CR piece. “Early Christians tapped into this common belief and began using the pelican as a symbol for Christ’s sacrifice and blood atonement. As late as 1812, a Catholic prayer book used a pelican as a symbol of self-sacrifice, and it looked identical to the one on Louisiana’s 1813 seal.”

Jones also penned the following paragraph… Allow it to serve as your Wednesday morning water-cooler fodder…

“One question that continues to puzzle people is why the white pelican was used for the state seal and flag when the brown pelican is the official state bird. The answer is simple. The white pelican was incorporated into the seal and flag more than two hundred years ago, but it was not until 1966 that the legislature chose the brown pelican to be the state bird.”

A Message From Harris, Deville & Associates:

Sasol’s community investment recognized by New York Stock Exchange

HDA client Sasol and its Corporate Social Investment initiatives are featured on the New York Stock Exchange corporate responsibility website, including a video on the company’s commitment to the Southwest Louisiana community.

Sasol is doing more than creating local jobs and improving local infrastructure. What sets Sasol apart is the company’s model of partnership with local community organizations to identify needs and then, working together, execute solutions.

In Southwest Louisiana, Sasol employees and the community identified education, small business development and the environment as priority areas.

Sasol’s education investments improve school-based education in science, technology, engineering and math, as well as higher education and workforce readiness. Environmental initiatives focus on restoring, preserving and enhancing local ecosystems.

To help promote the establishment and growth of small businesses in the area, Sasol partnered with local business development groups to develop a Small Business Resource Guide, which provides step-by-step guidance on how to start a new business and how to work with Louisiana industry.

Sasol also funds monthly certification workshops and other small business development trainings for area businesses and entrepreneurs.

“Our unique approach is making a real and measurable difference,” said Mike Thomas, Senior Vice President of Sasol North American Operations.

Read more and see the video on the NYSE website.


The Bird & Carter Caucuses

They say birds of a feather flock together.

But what about featherless legislators with bird-like names?

Also, how many Carters does it take to pass a bill?

The answers can be found in our latest LaPolitics Lowdown video...

(If you're looking for a way to start learning the names of Louisiana lawmakers, then this episode is for you!)

Watch the latest LaPolitics Lowdown video right now!


Russell Long’s Gift To Presidents

By Mitch Rabalais

Decades before Bernie Sanders fired up crowds with calls for campaign finance reform, another U.S. senator — our own Russell Long — seized upon the issue and forever left his mark on the way presidential contests are operated.

A uniquely gifted legislator, Long was a master of the process. His natural skill set, along with his influence and seniority, made the Kingfish’s son one of the most powerful people on Capitol Hill.

But the senator was also worried about the growing influence of money in presidential campaigns. With the Democrats holding majorities in both chambers and his friend Lyndon Johnson in the White House, Long decided that the fall of 1966 was the right time to push for related reforms.

Long’s proposal was anchored by a voluntary $1 opt-in donation for taxpayers when they file their annual returns. The money, Long suggested, should then be equally distributed to the major candidates during the next regularly-scheduled election.

Rather than pushing a standalone bill, Long attached a rider to a Johnson Administration tax credit bill. Knowing that this strategy would ensure an easier route to passage, Long allowed colleagues to toss in their own hitchhikers, both germane and non-germane.

When the tax credit vehicle came up for debate that Christmas, one senator supposedly likened its numerous amendments to ornaments on a tree, coining a new legislative phrase: “The Christmas Tree Bill.”

Republicans were staunchly against Long’s plan, while a small group of Democrats, led by Albert Gore Sr. and Bobby Kennedy, joined the opposition. With the end of session only days away, Gore threatened to filibuster until adjournment.

Fearing that the president’s tax credit was in danger, Majority Leader Mike Mansfield asked Long to drop the amendment. He refused. When Mansfield called LBJ for backup, the president instead backed Long. Realizing the fight was fruitless, Gore dropped his opposition.

The bill passed, of course, and Johnson endorsed it a few days later.

If you want, you can still donate $1 when you file your annual return, for deposit into Long’s fund.

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What you missed in the latest issue of LaPolitics Weekly, 

which was emailed to subscribers five days ago…

— “Louisiana Ledger” concept gaining momentum… Even from across aisles…

— A date which will live in infamy…

— Why Ralph Abraham for governor should be taken seriously…

— CC73 book plans announced…

— Medicaid contracts not on agenda… Yet…

JBE gets serious about cyber…

— Let it sneaux, let it sneaux, let it sneaux…

John Breaux, Billy Tauzin and Rodney Alexander in our “They Said It” feature…

For 24 years LaPolitics Weekly has been Louisiana's premier trade publication for elected officials, lobbyists, campaign professionals, journalists and other politicos. Become a part of this elite community by subscribing today!


— Is Congressman Ralph Abraham serious about running for governor? He told reporter Greg Hilburn he’ll know for sure before the end of the first quarter. There’s also this line from the story: “Abraham said he has already secured a commitment from noted fundraiser Allee Bautsch Grunewald should he choose to run.”

— Advocate political scribe Bryn Stole (@brynstole) saw Hilburn’s story and jumped into action. Stole broke it down on The Twitter Machine: “Asked Sen. John Kennedy about this story and if he's going to run for governor in 2019: ‘I don't have any comment on it.’”

— TP political scribe Julia O’Donoghue (@JSODonoghue) used The Twitter Machine today, too: “FWIW: It appears that @LouisianaGov and @CameronHenryLA are hearing about how each other feels about the Medicaid contracts through the media. Not much private discussion going on…”


[Hello. You have exactly three months until the start of the 2018 regular session. This message will self destruct in 20 seconds...] 

— A new report from 24-7 Wall Street suggests that Louisiana is the worst-run state in the U.S.

— Rep. Franklin Foil was sworn in earlier today as a new Naval appellate court judge, during a ceremony at the Navy Yard in Washington.

— Political Football: Catholic—New Iberia delivered a 33-16 upset to the Notre Dame Pioneers at the Superdome last week. Reps. Blake Miguez and John Stefanski had a bit of feud going, but it was Team Miguez (Catholic) that brought the trophy back to Acadiana. (Catholic-New Iberia hadn’t won a state title since 1962, back when the coach was man named Coach, or Coach Blanco, who is the husband of former Gov. Kathleen Blanco.

— In related news, our West Point governor pulled for his branch in Saturday’s Army-Navy football game. (Army won 14-13.)

— It’s time for Rep. Gary Carter’s annual Winter Wonderland Christmas Party, which as always includes milk and cookies and Nutcracker performers and a meet-and-greet with Santa! INVITE

— Congressional aide Michael Willis’ BAD JOKE OF THE WEEK: “What type of parties do snowmen go to? Snow Balls!”

— The Louisiana Home Builders Association has a new partnership with Vantage Health. Open enrollment for health insurance for LHBA members begins Dec. 15.

— The 10th annual Louisiana Charter Schools Conference is this weekend in New Orleans.

— LDWF will deploy a new freshwater artificial reef into Vernon Lake on Thursday.

— Gov. John Bel Edwards and the First Lady on the passing of Judge Jim Brady: “He was Louisiana to his core, and an avid supporter of LSU. Like many people around the state, we were lucky to call him a friend. Judge Brady dedicated his life to public service, and despite his many accomplishments, he was as good and humble a man I have ever met. Most importantly, he represented honesty, fairness and integrity on the federal bench in Louisiana, and his wisdom in the courtroom will be sorely missed. We ask all Louisianans to join their prayers to ours for his wife, Karen, and his children, Sean and Missy, during this very difficult time.”

JBE was also one of 12 governors today who signed a letter asking Congress to re-authorize CHIP “as quickly as possible.”

JBE on former Gov. Kathleen Blanco’s cancer diagnosis: “She is a strong woman of incredible faith, a deep and abiding love of Louisiana and all its people.”

— New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu on Blanco: “When I served alongside her as Lieutenant Governor, I had the opportunity to witness firsthand her strength and courage.”

— The state now has a Cybersecurity Commission. EXECUTIVE ORDER

— Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Director James Waskom will recap this past hurricane season and give 2016 flood recovery and 2018 legislative session updates for the Press Club of Baton Rouge on Dec. 18 at the Belle of Baton Rouge Hotel. Lunch starts at 11:30 a.m.

A Message From Harris, Deville & Associates:

Louisiana State Medical Society Partnering 

With KaMMCO Health Solutions

Nationwide, there is a transformation of the health care industry underway. Physicians are adopting new performance-based delivery and payment models that demand more patient information as well as require powerful analytics to improve clinical outcomes, reduce inefficiencies and positively impact patient safety. The Louisiana State Medical Society (LSMS) recognizes the changes affecting its statewide membership and is pleased to announce a new partnership with KaMMCO Health Solutions (KHS).

“Partnering with KHS to access new health information exchange (HIE) and analytics tools allows us to support the physicians of Louisiana with cutting-edge benefits relevant to both patient care and the successful transition to alternative payment models. This is a winning combination for our members,” said LSMS Executive Vice President and CEO, Jeff Williams.

“KHS offers a unique perspective, as they too are physician-led. We are pleased to work with an organization that has experience in developing and successfully maintaining a health information exchange which also serves as the foundation for creation and delivery of meaningful data analytic reports,” added Williams.

KHS President and Chief Executive Officer, Kurt Scott said, “Our new partnership with LSMS represents a statewide membership of engaged and forward-thinking physicians. We look forward to working with LSMS to deliver integral solutions to the Louisiana health care community.”


— Congressman Garret Graves on President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Army Corps of Engineers: “I’ll be very candid. This nomination was a mistake.” (CQ Roll Call)

— NPR, on U.S. Sen. John Kennedy: “This week, one senator quoted the singer Meat Loaf during a committee hearing. That set off an all-out Meat Loaf quotation battle among the lawmakers.”

— This morning’s POLITICO PLAYBOOK: “Ben Howard, part of the White House leg affairs team, is coming back to the Capitol to work as House Majority Whip Steve Scalise's (R-La.) floor director.” Scalise: "Members trust him, and I am honored to welcome him to the Whip Team."

— Via Elizabeth Crisp’s Twitter: Scalise’s campaign is selling “Team Scalise” $5 koozies.

— Congressman Mike Johnson on the U.S. Supreme Court’s backing Trump’s travel ban: “Carefully vetting any person entering our country from areas known to be terrorist strongholds is not a controversy, it is common-sense.

Johnson on the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Comm'n U.S. Supreme Court case: “If the government can force [Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips] to use his artistic expression to promote an event or message that violates his deeply held religious beliefs...everyone may be subject to the coercion of the government.”

— Congressman Ralph Abraham on Twitter: “Activist judges might sometimes win the battle, but this ruling by SCOTUS to allow full enforcement of the travel ban shows the Constitution still wins the war...I support this ruling.”

Graves and Abraham to tax bill negotiators: “Don’t forget about Louisiana flood victims.” THE LETTER

Congressman Cedric Richmond congratulated New Orleans Mayor-Elect Latoya Cantrell on the House floor. WATCH

— U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy retweeted an “interesting” column today on why the U.S.-Yemen policy needs to be “forced out into the sunlight.”

— Congressman Clay Higgins introduced the Post-Caliphate Threat Assessment Act of 2017. Higgins: “Weakness of the Obama-era Executive Branch and State Department, and the associated alarming decline of our military...has brought great peril upon the world.”

— The U.S. House passed the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act this week… Johnson via press release: “Just as we are afforded our right to speak freely no matter which state we are in, so too are we bestowed our rights outlined under the Second Amendment regardless of where we are in the United States.” FLOOR SPEECH

Scalise via press release: “With this law, we put public safety first...we are making important progress in preventing mass shootings from happening in the future.”

Higgins via press release: “’Shall not be infringed,’ was not intended by the drafters of our Constitution and Bill of Rights to be a suggestion.”

Abraham on Facebook: “The man who attacked the church in Texas should not have had a gun, yet he was allowed to purchase one because bureaucrats failed to report him to the criminal background check system.”

— Louisiana Tech University earned a $1.3 million grant from the National Science Foundation for its cybersecurity programs. Abraham: “As the first university in the country to establish a Bachelor of Science in Cyber Engineering degree program, I know that Tech is deserving.”

— As Alabama voters hit the polls today in a high-stakes special election, a new poll from Morning Consult and Politico finds the majority of voters believe Roy Moore should be expelled if he's elected. FULL RESULTS

— writes on Alabama Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby not supporting Alabama Republican U.S. Senate candidate Moore: “For a state's senior senator to not support his party's nominee for the other seat is almost unheard of. Historians could find just one example: from 1990, when Louisiana's Republican nominee was David Duke, a former KKK leader.”

Richmond on the Children’s Health Insurance Program: “Instead of funding this program, the GOP is reconciling their disastrous tax bill.”

Scalise on Fox & Friends: "We still talk about the ‘86 tax cuts under Reagan. You’re going to be talking about these Trump tax cuts and how it got our economy moving again.” VIDEO

Kennedy on retaining certain amendments in the tax bill: “Louisiana needs tax cuts, and we also need to educate our kids and stop our coastline from disappearing.”

Higgins penned U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady asking other provisions in the tax bill be included. Higgins: “I’m confident that they’ll reach a combined [Senate and House] version that provides for the concerns of South Louisiana and results in tremendous economic growth.”

Scalise also talked taxes on Fox's Mornings with Maria

Richmond is still pushing sign-up for the Affordable Care Act before this week’s open enrollment deadline.

Cassidy discussed “pill-mills” and the opioid epidemic with National Institute of Health Director Francis Collins. WATCH or READ

Johnson questioned FBI Director Christopher Wray on ISIS and Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast. WATCH

Scalise on Jerusalem: “President Trump actually followed through on what most politicians have simply talked about for years and fulfilled his promise to recognize the reality that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and begin the steps necessary to move the U.S. Embassy there.”

Abraham: “Israel is our strongest ally in the region, and we should always stand with them.”

Scalise on Fox Business: “If you look at a lot of the success we’re seeing at bringing our allies together, that’s been from the leadership of President Trump.” WATCH or READ

Kennedy and Cassidy met this week with U.S. President Donald Trump, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn to talk about renewable fuel standards.

Cassidy: “The current Renewable Fuel Standard is harming Louisiana refiners, families, fishers and workers.”

Kennedy: “We have 17 refineries with thousands of workers who depend on maintaining a reasonable proportion of biofuels for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). It’s imperative that we ensure our nation’s refineries have a seat at the table.”

Cassidy on introducing the Prioritizing the Most Vulnerable Over Lottery Winners Act: “The Medicaid program should prioritize the people who need help the most, not lottery winners.”

Cassidy is one of the senators asking the the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to review its medical providers. LETTER

Cassidy toured the Sasol petrochemical manufacturing complex in Lake Charles: “Sasol is creating thousands of jobs in Southwest Louisiana...We need more of them and they’re providing them.”

Graves on his bill to ban U.S. Army Pvt. Bowe Bergdahl from receiving back pay: “Those funds should go to the service members and families affected by the search that followed his desertion.”

Graves’ RED SNAPPER Act, co-sponsored by Johnson, Higgins and Richmond, gets marked up in committee this evening. LIVE FEED

— FYI: “RED SNAPPER Act” is short for “Regionally Empowered Decision-making for Snapper, Noting the Angling Public and the Preservation of an Exceptional Resource Act.” Sorta wordy, but the letter match up and all.

Graves on the Clear Law Enforcement for Criminal Alien Removal (CLEAR) Act: “There are over 200 sanctuary cities in the US, and...illegal immigrants account for 75% of federal sentences for drug possession and made up more than a third of all federal sentences. This is absurd.”

— Roll Call profiled Graves for his routine use of Facebook Live video.

— Speaking of which, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana Communications Director Jimmy Frederick will interview Graves on Facebook Live tomorrow. DETAILS

— ICYMI: The Graves-Richmond “duplication of benefits” amendment in the Disaster Recovery Reform Act passed out of House committee last week. The bill also includes Graves’ language to turn food banks into emergency services during disasters, as well as to give local governments “more rights to challenge FEMA public assistance denials,” his office tells us.

POLITICO PLAYBOOK: Scalise threw a “Cajun Christmas party” in Eastern Market last night: "Guests dined on traditional Cajun cuisine as the Capitol Hillbillies played. Scalise joined them to play his washboard, known as the 'Zydeco Lightning.'"

— The Senate passed Kennedy’s resolution asking all members of Congress spend at least one day a year substitute teaching. Kennedy: “Teaching is the most difficult job in the world, and very few members of Congress have stood in front of a class of students and taught.”

— The National Defense Authorization Act, including Johnson’s cybersecurity review mandate, is now law. Johnson: “Under the Trump administration and Republican-led Congress, we have begun a new era of military readiness and prioritization.”

Scalise tells Bloomberg the public's apprehension over GOP tax reform is the same misperception citizens had before the Tax Reform Act of 1986. He also dodges the question of whether he'll support Moore if he gets the Senate seat.

Cassidy talked about the link between drug pricing and curing Alzheimer’s. WATCH or READ

Political tidbit? Let us know about it at!

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Career move? Political appointment? Send word to!


— Tuesday 12/12: Former Sen. Mike Michot, former Sen. Butch Gautreaux, Ashley Busada and JR Whaley

— Wednesday 12/13: Former Rep. Stephen Ortego and Michelli Martin

— Thursday 12/14: Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon, Former Rep. Austin Badon, Matt Beynon and Leslie Davis

— Friday 12/15: The Very Lovely Karron Alford, former Gov. Kathleen Blanco, former Rep. Joe Harrison, Donna Brazile, Paige Hensgens Hightower and Ben Lemoine

— Saturday 12/16: Sen. Eddie Lambert, former Rep. Jack Smith, Teri Smith Hutchinson and Erin Monroe Wesley

— Sunday 12/17: Former Rep. Lenar Whitney and Charlie Whinham

— Monday 12/18: Former Sen. Bob Kostelka, Terry Baugh, Laura Paul and John Spain


Matthew Spradley tied the knot on Saturday to the former Kristel Messina, who, of course, is now Mrs. Kristel Spradley.

Birthdays, anniversaries, birth announcements, you name it. We want to know about your special day. Send those dates to!

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