Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight same-sex marriageÂ â€“ and not all the bills have been paid yet.
As we are well aware, many attorneys generalÂ across the United States spent copious amounts of taxpayer money to defend state marriage bans. John Boehner spent millions at the federal level to defend DOMA. Louisiana AG Buddy Caldwell and Governor Bobby Jindal are no different.
Jindal, running for president, likes to claim he has “balanced ourÂ budgetÂ eight years in a row without raisingÂ taxes.” It’sÂ not true.
In a time when Louisiana is fiscally broke, having to slash some higher education and hospital services, the amount of taxpayer money Bobby Jindal paid to the attorney fighting same-sex marriage rights could have been much better spent.Â
According to his bio, “Kyle Duncan was formerly general counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, where he was lead counsel representing Hobby Lobby Stores in its challenge to the HHS mandate. He is now a lawyer in private practice for the firm of Duncan PLLC in Washington, D.C. Kyle was also previously solicitor general of Louisiana from 2008 to 2011, where he argued numerous appeals in state and federal courts, including the US Supreme Court. From 2004 to 2008 Duncan was an assistant professor of law at the University of Mississippi School of Law, where he taught courses on constitutional law, church-state relations, and free speech. He was assistant solicitor general in the Texas Attorney Generalâ€™s Office from 1999 to 2002.”
In other words, Kyle Duncan is a high-powered and expensive lawyer charging Louisiana taxpayers at the rate of $385 an hour.
Along with colleagues, a public records request was made, and we now have contract details and theÂ documentsÂ that break down the expenses Kyle Duncan charged Louisiana to defend the state’s unconstitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
Gov. Jindal wants to run for the highest office in the country, oblivious to the mess heâ€™s created in his own state. How can he expect the American people to put any validity to his concern for all citizens of this country, when itâ€™s obvious that he couldnâ€™t even serve the people of Louisiana with dignity? He knowingly spent money that the state did not have, in defense of a ban that disenfranchises his own citizens. Itâ€™s not only a blatant disregard for all taxpayers across Louisiana, including the ones he was fighting against, but also for the state fiscal crisis as a whole. Yes, I know, the expenses arenâ€™t into the million-dollar crisis range that faces this state, but they would have been better served if put to a better use.
My husband and I were some of those taxpayers that Jindal disenfranchised. Having filed the federal lawsuit, Robicheaux et. al., challenging Louisianaâ€™s marriage ban in July 2013, weâ€™ve been fighting the governor and his officers for the last 24 months. Weâ€™ve been forced to file our taxes separately due to the ban that was in place and have those tax dollars used against us.
Even when the Supreme Court ruled for same-sex marriage Governor Jindal chose to go the route of grand standing for his failing political aspirations, rather than step aside and let the law of the land stand. It was not until the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals remanded to the District Court to reverse its original ruling and instruct the state officers to comply with issuing and recognizing marriage licenses that same-sex couples were able to marry.
In my opinion, this man is not fit to continue his duties as Louisiana Governor, much less have a chance at theÂ Oval Office.
The dust has settled in Louisiana on this matter, but the taxpayers will continue to suffer for the fiscal crisis that Jindal will leave behind. Even those of us that had our tax money spent in the fight against us.
So, how much money did Governor Jindal blow on fighting cases he had to have known he would lose, just to prop up his conservative bonafides when running for president?
And that’s only through March of this year.
Below are the documents received from our the records request that show all the money Gov. Jindal spent, through March.Â
Attorney Hourly Fees – $360,456.25
Total Fees Billed – $371,548.63
See records request hereÂ or below.
Derek Penton-RobicheauxÂ is a native of Mississippi and a longtime resident of New Orleans. Â He holds degrees in computer information systems and paramedicine. Â After more than five years together, Derek and his husband, Jonathan Penton-Robicheaux, were legally married in Iowa on Sept. 23, 2012. The two were the first plaintiffs involved in the federal marriage Lawsuit in Louisiana, Robicheaux et al. v Caldwell.
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Santos Campaign Can No Longer Raise or Spend Money After Treasurer Officially Calls It Quits: NYT
Enmeshed in a web of deceit and possibly under federal criminal investigation, U.S. Rep. George Santos (R-NY) is now apparently unable to lawfully spend money or accept donations via his political campaign, which reportedly now may also be in violation of FEC rules.
On Tuesday the embattled freshman Republican announced he was temporarily stepping down from his committee assignments, reportedly after a conversation with Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Before the end of the day his campaign treasurer filed official paperwork notifying the Federal Election Commission she had resigned.
“Nancy Marks’s resignation effectively leaves the Santos campaign unable to raise or spend money and in seeming violation of federal rules,” The New York Times reports, calling her his “longtime campaign treasurer and trusted aide.”
“Mr. Santos’s financial operations, which are the subject of several complaints filed with the F.E.C. and are being investigated by local, state and federal law enforcement,” The Times adds. “It also leaves the Santos campaign in disarray, effectively rendering it unable to raise or spend money and placing it in seeming violation of F.E.C. rules.”
In fact, FEC rules state: “If a committee’s treasurer is absent, the committee cannot make expenditures or accept contributions unless it has designated an assistant treasurer or designated agent on the committee’s Statement of Organization.”
The resignation comes after last week’s stunning report revealing that Santos, or his campaign, amended FEC filings to indicate the $700,000 he had claimed to have personally loaned his campaign had not actually come from his personal funds.
Unlike political candidates, campaign treasurers are held to an actual standard of truth, and can be personally – and legally – liable if they report false information.
FEC rules also state, “the treasurer can be named and found liable in his or her personal capacity if he or she knowingly and willfully violates the Act, recklessly fails to fulfill duties imposed by the law, or intentionally deprives himself or herself of the operative facts giving rise to the violation.”
Santos may find it difficult to hire a new treasurer: “Even when an enforcement action alleges violations that occurred during the term of a previous treasurer, the Commission usually names the current treasurer as a respondent in the action.”
The Times adds, “The lack of clarity over who, if anyone, is operating as Mr. Santos’s treasurer has already caused confusion. On Tuesday, a joint fund-raising committee associated with Mr. Santos filed paperwork to end its operations. Ms. Marks’s signature was on the paperwork, even though she had resigned as the committee’s treasurer the week before.”
Marks’ resignation also comes after someone affiliated with the Santos campaign falsely listed a well-known Republican treasurer on the official FEC forms as the treasurer for his campaign. As one expert put it, that’s a “big no-no,” and “completely illegal.”
Another SCOTUS Scandal: Chief Justice’s Spouse Makes Millions Placing Attorneys at Top Law Firms That Argue Before the Court
The highly controversial and highly unpopular U.S. Supreme Court isn’t just facing a historic loss of confidence, it’s now facing yet another ethics scandal that is likely to lower even further public opinion of the far-right institution that in under two decades has seen its approval rating slashed.
Although it will not hear arguments, the issue before the Supreme Court and the American people’s view of it, is, should a Justice’s spouse – in this case the spouse of Chief Justice John Roberts – be able to make millions of dollars recruiting attorneys who are placed into top law firms that argue cases before it?
That’s the latest allegation, and already a spokesperson for the Court has issued a statement denying any ethical violations.
The New York Times reports that “a former colleague of Mrs. Roberts has raised concerns that her recruiting work poses potential ethics issues for the chief justice. Seeking an inquiry, the ex-colleague has provided records to the Justice Department and Congress indicating Mrs. Roberts has been paid millions of dollars in commissions for placing lawyers at firms — some of which have business before the Supreme Court, according to a letter obtained by The New York Times.”
Jane Sullivan Roberts left a law firm where she was a partner after her spouse was confirmed as Chief Justice.
“Mrs. Roberts, according to a 2015 deposition,” The Times reports, “said that a significant portion of her practice was devoted to helping senior government lawyers land jobs at law firms and that the candidates’ names were almost never disclosed.”
Documents in that case “list six-figure fees credited to Mrs. Roberts for placing partners at law firms — including $690,000 in 2012 for one such match. The documents do not name clients, but Mr. Price recalled her recruitment of one prominent candidate, Ken Salazar, then interior secretary under President Barack Obama, to WilmerHale, a global firm that boasts of arguing more than 125 times before the Supreme Court.”
That case involves “a former colleague of Mrs. Roberts,” Kendal Price, a 66-year-old Boston lawyer, who “has raised concerns that her recruiting work poses potential ethics issues for the chief justice.”
“According to the letter,” sent by Price to DOJ and Congress, which the Times reports it obtained, “Mr. Price was fired in 2013 and sued the firm, as well as Mrs. Roberts and another executive, over his dismissal.”
The Times cites two legal experts, one who sees no ethical concerns with the situation, and one who does.
But critics are expressing great concern over this latest ethics issue, as they have been for years.
Doug Lindner, Advocacy Director for Judiciary & Democracy for the League of Conservation Voters, pointing to the Times’ report, remarked: “Another day, another ethics concern about another life-tenured conservative justice on the most powerful court in the world, which has no binding ethics rules.”
Indeed, the lack of a Supreme Court code of ethics has been repeatedly condemned for years, including by some of the nation’s top critics.
On Sept. 1, 2022, The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin tweeted out her opinion piece: “Ginni Thomas pressed Wisconsin lawmakers to overturn Biden’s 2020 victory .. just another insurrectionist.”
Norman Ornstein, an emeritus scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a contributing editor for the Atlantic, responded:
“Another reminder of how unethical is Justice Clarence Thomas, while Chief Justice Roberts turns a blind eye and continues to resist a code of ethics for a Supreme Court now distrusted by a majority of Americans. This defines the Roberts Court.”
The following month Ornstein slammed the Roberts Court once again.
“It is a stain on the Supreme Court that Chief Justice Roberts refuses to support a Judicial Code of Ethics, and stands by silently while Clarence Thomas flouts ethical standards over and over and over,” Ornstein charged.
Less than one month later he again unleashed on Roberts.
“Roberts is culpable,” he tweeted. “He has resisted over and over applying the Judicial Code of Ethics to the Supreme Court. This is Alito’s court, and it is partisan and corrupt.”
Ornstein is far from the Court’s only critic.
“If Chief Justice Roberts really wanted to address Supreme Court ethics, he would have immediately worked to implement a Code of Conduct after Clarence Thomas failed to recuse from cases involving January 6th despite having a clear conflict of interest,” the government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington tweeted a year ago in May. The following month CREW published an analysis titled: “Chief Justice John Roberts is wrong: the American judicial system is facing a major ethics crisis.”
Meanwhile, in late November Politico reported that Democrats in Congress were outraged at the Roberts Court.
“Two senior Democrats in Congress are demanding that Chief Justice John Roberts detail what, if anything, the Supreme Court has done to respond to recent allegations of a leak of the outcome of a major case the high court considered several years ago,” PoliticoJosh Bernstein reported, referring to the leak of the Dobbs decision that overturned the Roe v. Wade decision – itself a massive ethics crisis for the Court.
“Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) are also interested in examining claims about a concerted effort by religious conservatives to woo the justices through meals and social engagements. They wrote to Roberts on Sunday, making clear that if the court won’t investigate the alleged ethical breaches, lawmakers are likely to launch their own probe.”
Whitehouse and Johnson “also criticized the high court’s response to a letter they sent Roberts in September, seeking information about the court’s reaction to reports in POLITICO and Rolling Stone about a yearslong campaign to encourage favorable decisions from the justices by bolstering their religiosity.”
Nothing has changed.
When the Roberts Court earlier this month announced its lengthy investigation did not find the draft Dobbs decision leaker but also did not include the Justices themselves, Stokes Prof. of Law at NYU Law School Melissa Murray, an MSNBC host, tweeted, “This is a Roberts Court leitmotif–The Chief loves to handle things–even big things–in-house. Ethics issues? No need to get involved, Congress. We’ll sort it out ourselves. Leak needs investigating? No need to call in an actual investigative body, the Marshal will handle it.”
Pulitzer prize winning New York Times investigative reporter Jodi Kantor, pointing to how the Justices were not thoroughly investigated during the leak probe, in earlier this month said: “Last week the court released statements that confirmed the gap between how the justices and everyone else were treated.”
“The whole situation amplifies a major question about the court: are these nine people, making decisions that affect all of us, accountable to anyone?”
‘Can Be Used Against You’: Trump Took Big Risk Pleading the Fifth 400 Times in Deposition Says Legal Expert
A newly released video shows Donald Trump pleading the Fifth Amendment hundreds of times in a deposition, and a legal expert explained how that could be used against him in court.
The former president was finally hauled in to testify last year in the $25 million fraud lawsuit filed against the Trump Organization by New York attorney Letitia James, and he exercised his constitutional right against self-incrimination nearly 450 times — but MSNBC legal analyst Andrew Weissmann said the move carried potential risk in a civil case.
“I agree with him on the point of taking the Fifth,” Weissmann said. “It’s important to remember everyone has a right to the Fifth if a truthful answer would tend to incriminate you. In a civil case, it can be used against you, unlike in a criminal case.”
“One other thing I would disagree is when he is saying there’s this witch hunt, he left out jurors,” Weissmann added. “The Trump Organizations went to trial, they had their day in court. They could present all of their evidence, [and] 12 jurors, that’s everyday citizens, found beyond a reasonable doubt that there was a multi-year tax conspiracy that his organizations were involved in, and there was evidence he knew about it as would make sense. That’s one more reason for him to be asserting the Fifth Amendment.”
Image via Shutterstock
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