Friday, January 25, 2008

More of the same with Jindal?

Bloggers have been expressing their suspicions that Jindal's administration is not truly interested in ethics reform or "transparency."

Well, the bottom's fallen out. Beyond odd details and idiosyncrasies, Jindal now faces ethics charges for receiving over $100,000 in in-kind contributions (mailing expenses) from the state GOP, without reporting it. Jindal's campaign people say it was a mistake: the GOP didn't issue an invoice (so there was no knowing what the amount spent was), and there was miscommunication among the Jindal staffers. In fact, the issue only came to light because it was reported by NO resident Chris Stow-Serge.

I'm not saying this was a deliberate omission, but it looks really bad. If there is not a case of deception here, there is at least one of ineptitude on the part of Jindal's staff. It doesn't help that a citizen not involved with the campaign had to report it. It's my feeling that this was a genuine oversight--truly, $100,000 in a $12-million campaign is a drop in the bucket, and it's not that bad of a thing to cover up anyway. Certainly not risking your campaign of "ethics" over. I'm not saying that Jindal and/or his crew don't commit other improprieties, but it doesn't make sense that they would take this particular (unnecessary) risk for such small return. In any case, it will probably be a big blow to his credibility. As the writer of Library Chronicles points out in one of the links above, it's made worse by being exactly what Jindal is supposed to be against, like conservative congressmen who get elected on "family values" and are caught in sex scandals.

Perhaps a more unsettling question is whether this kind of oversight/carelessness is the character of Louisiana politics. Maybe it's not always corruption but often ineptitude, irresponsibility, apathy. If that is the case, I think we have a harder fight ahead of ourselves to clean up our act. That sort of problem, in my opinion, is more insidious and difficult to remedy--more of an institutional problem--than deliberate wrongdoing by particular individuals.

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