By Robert Mann
Here’s an update to this post from May 30, in which I shared my email to the Louisiana Secretary of State’s Office and my request that its Election Compliance Unit investigate Gov. Bobby Jindal for possibly using his official state website for unlawful political purposes.
Secretary of State Tom Schedler has referred the case to Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore.
On May 27, Jindal issued a press statement, posted on his Governor’s Office website, attacking Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul as unfit to serve as president. Paul is a candidate for the GOP nomination.
The state Constitution and Louisiana law say: “No public funds shall be used to urge any elector to vote for or against any candidate or proposition, or be appropriated to a candidate or political organization.” The prohibition has been placed in statute La. R.S. 18:1465 and the law spells out the potential penalty: “Whoever violates any provision of this Section shall be fined not more than one thousand dollars or be imprisoned, with or without hard labor, for not more than two years, or both.”
To be clear, Jindal is free to attack Paul as unfit to be president. He just cannot do so using his official Governor’s Office website. Jindal may also use his official website to critique Paul’s policy positions. Where he may have crossed the line was using his press secretary and his press office to say Paul, a candidate for president, is “unsuited to be Commander-in-Chief.”
I received on Monday copies of official referrals “for further investigation” by Schedler sent to Caldwell and Moore. The letters included not only my complaint but the opinion of state Inspector General Stephen Street, which was critical of Jindal’s official statement.