Yesterday, John Bel Edwards gathered the most votes in Louisiana’s “jungle primary” for governor. Against three major candidates, all Republicans, John Bel Edwards managed to win 40% of the vote which means he will face David Vitter in a showdown next month.
The fact that Mr. Edwards got 40% of the vote and has a chance of beating David Vitter in November is a great story, especially in an election year that the national political media is mostly ignoring in favor of the dumpster fire that is the GOP presidential primary. However, they’re overlooking one of the most intriguing stories that has been developing over the past few weeks, and it’s happening right here in Louisiana.
It’s no secret in Louisiana that current U.S. Senator David Vitter has indulged in certain “sins of the flesh” during his political career. Some years back, he admitted to having committed a “very serious sin” and claimed that his wife had forgiven him after his name appeared on a list of clients that had frequented a Washington prostitution ring.
Over the years, many conservative Republicans in Louisiana forgave David Vitter, but the prostitution scandal has never gone away completely. During recent weeks, rumors of him having a child with a New Orleans working girl have resurfaced. These claims have been around for some time now, whispered about in inner circles but without any hard evidence like adoption papers. There is a belief that the current sheriff of Jefferson Parish has those documents and is holding onto them for political ammunition – if and when he ever needs to use them.
That’s probably why last week, a private investigator for the Vitter campaign was caught trying to record a breakfast conversation with that same sheriff, Newell Normand, and members of his group which included prominent attorneys and a state senator. The Vitter campaign admitted to hiring the private investigator, but claimed the actions were legal and that he was conducting political research on one of the attorneys who was present – not Sheriff Normand, who had endorsed one of his primary opponents.
While there is a possibility that these actions could result in interstate conspiracy charges, this still isn’t the story, which just goes to show how riveting Louisiana political theater can be. Now, here’s the lagniappe.
The same day that the coffee shop incident happened, David Vitter was in the area and was a passenger in a Mercedes-Benz which was involved in a minor car accident. According to local sources, David Vitter was quickly whisked away in another vehicle by a staffer and the driver of the Mercedes was cited for improper lane usage.
The driver was 36-year-old Courtney Gaustella Callihan, the wife of Bill Callihan, a director at Capital One Bank. Their home address is also listed as the address for Fund for Louisiana, the Super PAC backing Vitter, according to documents filed with the FEC.
Louisiana Voice and other sources noted a potential legal issue last year when Fund for Louisiana held a campaign event for David Vitter, called Bayou Weekend.
Courtney Guastella Callihan — Callihan’s wife — is listed on invitations as the contact person for the Bayou Weekend.
She also served as Vitter’s campaign financial director, a dual role that blurs the distinction between her function with the Super PAC and Vitter’s Senate campaign.
Citizens United legalized independent groups raising unlimited funds but it did not legalize politicians establishing dummy organizations to evade campaign finance laws. (Source)
So it would make sense that David Vitter would want to leave the scene, due to the fact that Courtney Guastella Callihan is possibly connected to a Super PAC that is supporting his gubernatorial campaign. News reports list her name as Courtney Guastella, but fail to mention her married name which ties her to her husband – or the fact that her home address is the same as Fund for Louisiana.
If these connections are true, along with a possible investigation into his spying on private individuals, it’s likely that David Vitter could find himself in serious legal trouble. Granted, the rules governing the actions of Super PACs are so loose that Vitter could have found a way to do this without breaking the law. The problem for Vitter is that it is especially hypocritical considering the fact he went after Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne’s campaign for allegedly coordinating with his own Super PAC in photos apparently taken by a private investigator.
Considering the fact that these would be potential federal investigations instead of state investigations, Vitter wouldn’t be able to leverage as many political connections. The people of Louisiana might be able to look the other way and vote for a “pro-life conservative” despite his serious moral failings, but the FEC and FBI don’t subscribe to the same hypocritical moral code as the people who voted for David Vitter.
If nothing else, this is further proof that David Vitter, who has cast himself as an advocate against corruption, is guilty of the same sins himself.
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