Mary Landrieu has stood up for Louisiana time and again during her 18 years in the U.S. Senate. She fought for our fair share of oil and gas lease revenues. She made sure our communities received vital disaster aid after Hurricane Katrina and the levee breaches, after Hurricane Rita, after Gustav, after Isaac. She understood the need to keep flood insurance premiums affordable long before others in Congress came to that realization.
Her opponent is trying to distract voters from Sen. Landrieu’s accomplishments in the Senate. He shouldn’t be allowed to get away with that.
The most important question in the Dec. 6 runoff election is who would best represent the interests of Louisiana residents in Washington. The answer is clear: Mary Landrieu.
Her Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, which passed in 2006, achieved something Louisiana leaders had tried for decades to do: Require the federal government to give our state and other energy-producing states a significant share of revenues from offshore drilling. By 2017, the act will provide an estimated $500 million each year for restoring Louisiana’s coast.
Those revenues will benefit Louisianians for generations to come and help families hold onto the land they love.
Sen. Landrieu also helped ensure that New Orleans and other communities across South Louisiana got the federal resources essential to rebuilding homes, businesses and levees post-Katrina. That wasn’t an easy task, with influential members of Congress questioning whether we deserved help.
She played a key role in writing and passing the Restore Act, which will ensure that the vast majority of BP’s fines for the 2010 oil spill will go to coastal restoration — with Louisiana in line for the largest share. Her leadership and ability to work with Republican colleagues in other Gulf states was essential to the act’s approval.
She also wrote provisions into law allowing FEMA to forgive community disaster loans, which eliminated $391 million in post-Katrina debt for parish governments. In the past year, $54.8 million in loans for Jefferson Parish, $67.8 million for St. Tammany Parish schools and $24.4 million for the St. Tammany sheriff and parish government were wiped off the books thanks to her efforts.
Sen. Landrieu also successfully fought last year to reverse exorbitant flood insurance rates that would have been devastating for homeowners and businesses. Not only did she help get legislation through the Senate, she brought the stories of distressed homeowners to Congress with a collection of anecdotes and photos called MyHomeMyStory.
These are major achievements that speak to her leadership skills, her effectiveness and her commitment to her state.
Good Morning and Happy Thanksgiving!
We’ve gotten passed the Turkey Amnesty Day–an executive action–with President Obama. Mac and Cheese were saved from Thanksgiving Dinner and will live out their lives in the National Zoo. You can see the President talk turkey on that link. It was a cute speech with Sasha and Malia standing by to clap for the rescue.
President Obama poked fun Wednesday at his conservative critics over his executive actions that give legal status to as many as five million undocumented immigrants, saying his Thanksgiving pardon of a turkey would doubtlessly be criticized as “amnesty.”
Obama joked that the pardon of a turkey named Cheese would be the “most talked about executive action this month” and one that’s “fully within my legal authority, the same kind of action taken by Democrats and Republican presidents before.”
“I know some will call this amnesty, but don’t worry, there is plenty of turkey to go around,” he said.
During a speech at a Polish community center in Chicago on Wednesday, Obama used similar language to his turkey pardoning. He called his actions within his “legal authority,” reminded the audience about former President Ronald Reagan’s immigration executive order, and hit back against those who call the executive order “amnesty.”
The turkey pardon’s White House audience chuckled at Obama’s jokes, but last week’s executive action that gave legal status and work permits to illegal immigrants isn’t a laughing matter for many conservatives. Republicans ripped Obama’s decision, accusing him of acting outside his authority, and threatened that they’ll go after him with legislation that seeks to block Obama’s order.
I know most of us aren’t in the mood today for something long and depressing. I thought I’d take this opportunity to lay down a little dirt on the Cassiday-Landrieu Race and a lot of good research done by two fellow Louisiana Bloggers on Triple Dipping “Double Bill” Cassiday. Cassiday has been running on an nti-Obama and anti-government health care program campaign and that’s just about it. Interestingly enough, the millionaire doctor has three sources of income and all are either from State or Federal Government sources. He also appears to be commiting payroll fraud concurrently. I’m glad to see that National media and state Newspapers are now picking up on the story. We vote in a few weeks. I’m not sure this will make any difference but it really should give some of these voters pause. Will they vote this turkey into office?
Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge is disputing reports on two political blogs about his part-time work at LSU Health Sciences Center (LSUHSC) that suggested he was compensated for hours he didn’t perform, didn’t do the teaching work for which he was given a House ethics waiver to perform, and filed work sheets indicated he did medical work when Congress was conducting votes and holding hearings.
The allegations, based on records obtained by Jason Berry writing on theamericanzombie.com, were posted Tuesday — just 11 days before the Dec. 6 Louisiana Senate runoff between Cassidy and incumbent Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu. The records also were the subject of a report on the political blog by Lamar White Jr. on CenLamar.com.
The reports outline Cassidy’s continued work for LSUHSC after his election to Congress in November, 2008. The House Ethics Committee approved part-time work for Cassidy as a “teaching physician,” offering a “regular course of instruction.”
In an interview Wednesday, Cassidy said that although LSUHSC records don’t show him doing lectures, he taught students as he and they worked with patients at clinics and other facilities. He also advised students, worked with them on their research and papers, including in Washington when he would meet with students doing residencies and internships in area medical facilities after the day’s congressional work ended.
Memos from LSUHSC said that Cassidy was expected to work, “on average,” 7.5 hours a week, or 30 hours a month, for a stipend of $20,000, reflecting about one-fifth of his hours and pay from before 2009 when he was working full-time.
But 16 time sheets obtained from LSU by American Zombie, and later provided NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune, show he reported working a cumulative 219.75 hours, or 13.7 hours per month — well short of the 30 hour per month figure. None of the time sheets showed him working more than 27 hours in a single month.
Cassidy said that he wasn’t being paid “by the hour,” and that he worked longer hours when Congress wasn’t in session. A Cassidy campaign spokesman said he often worked more than the specified hours for LSCHSC.
The blogs questioned whether it was appropriate for Cassidy to retain his tenure at LSUHSC after going part-time, and to be compensated for malpractice insurance. Cassidy said LSU provides malpractice insurance for all is part-time physicians.
As for tenure, Cassidy said he wasn’t even aware he had been kept in a tenured position.
To quote my friend Nath Pizzolato, “BILL CASSIDY draws a PAYCHECK from the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND from the STATE GOVERMENT for a job he’s NOT EVEN WORKING? And even though BILL CASSIDY is in the top ONE PERCENT, his wife draws her own GOVERNMENT PAYCHECK for NOT WORKING? THREE GOVERNMENT PAYCHECKS? Sounds like THE CASSIDYS are some WELFARE FREELOADERS GETTING RICH off HARD-WORKING, HONEST TAXPAYERS.”
Late Tuesday, a handful of local Louisiana political blogs released internal emails and school records they say call into question whether Cassidy remained on payroll as a congressman while not contributing at the school, wrongly logged hours at LSU while he was in Washington, and whether he maintained tenure when he didn’t meet the minimum requirements.
“The documents speak for themselves and certainly raise serious questions that Congressman Cassidy will have to answer,” Landrieu spokesman Fabien Levy said in a statement.
“Congressman Cassidy may have taken home over $100,000 in taxpayer funds for work he never did. Most people don’t get paid enough for the work they do, let alone for the work they don’t do. But it seems Congressman Cassidy got a pat on the back and a check in the bank. Louisiana taxpayers deserve answers.”
The Landrieu campaign noted that some people at LSU have been arrested for falsifying time sheets.
Lamar White’s blog piece was picked up by IND Reporter the day he published it. I love that he’s coined the Congressman “Double Bill” Cassiday given he’s getting paid by Congress and the state simultaneously.
On at least 21 different occasions during the last 2.5 years, Rep. Bill Cassidy billed the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center for work allegedly performed on the same days Congress voted on major legislation and held important committee hearings on energy and the Affordable Care Act, according to records first posted by Jason Berry ofThe American Zombie. Cassidy, a medical doctor, remained on LSU’s payroll after he was first elected, despite concerns by his associates about the nature of work that Cassidy, as a member of Congress, could legitimately conduct in his capacity as an employee of LSU.
Cassidy faces incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu in the Dec. 6 runoff.
In May of 2010, Cassidy received an extensive opinion from the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, advising, among other things, that he could be compensated as a “teaching physician” who teaches “a regular course of instruction.” The House Committee also advised Cassidy that, although he is prohibited from practicing medicine for compensation, he could still accept “payments for professional medical services in an amount that does not exceed the actual and necessary expenses associated with the medical services provided.” Payments for actual and necessary expenses associated with medical services, it is worth noting, are considered on a case-by-case basis; physician members of Congress are not allowed to earn a salary for the practice of medicine.
Although the records released are incomplete, they raise serious legal and ethical questions about Cassidy’s role at LSU and seem to suggest that Cassidy may have been in open violation of the House Committee’s clear guidelines and may have been grossly overcompensated for his work.
Instead of taking a leave of absence from LSU after he was elected in November 2008, Cassidy agreed to an 80 percent reduction in his salary, or approximately $20,000 a year, slightly less than the $26,550 annual limitation on outside wages earned by members of Congress. There were practical reasons a physician who had been newly and narrowly elected to a Congressional seat that had already changed hands twice in the last two years would want to remain on LSU’s payroll: In addition to his salary, LSU also paid for Cassidy’s medical malpractice insurance, continuing education, and licensing fees, expenses that can easily total in the thousands. In the event that he lost re-election, he would be able to immediately return to his medical practice, without even skipping a beat.
Remember this guy is part of Boehner’s gang that hates the Affordable Health Care Act and votes against poor people getting any kind of government money. He even voted against his own district getting Hurricane Relief. He also wants to privatize Medicare while his wife uses it as part of her disability benefits. He said that he didn’t during a recent debate, but here’s the article from two years ago showing the votes. Again, Newspapers across the state are supporting Landrieu. I can’t imagine facing a major hurricane again without her.
Anway, I hope you have a good long weekend and that you have plenty of food on your table! I’m terrifically busy right now but I will be attending a brunch on Sunday with Debbie Wasserman Schultz. I hope I can report back on that for you.
If you want to read the original great analysis and work done by two Louisiana bloggers, be sure to check out their original analysis on the Double Bill. Here’s the article from CenLAmar’s site. Also, here’s the link to American Zombie. Lamar and Jason did a great job pulling the data together and doing the analysis. It appears their work has “legs”. Go give them some traffic love!!!
What’s on your agenda today? This is an open thread so have at it!!!
Bonus Turkey Material: TURKEYS AWAY!!!