Our Democracy
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Louisiana Democracy Project, Inc. is a grassroots organization working for voting rights.
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Campaign finance as a civil rights issue round table. Sponsored by the National Voting Rights Institute at Howard University Law Center in DC.
Democracy In Louisiana
Congressional Delegation
On November 4, 1998 5 Louisiana congressmen were re-elected without opposition. Congressmen Richard Baker outspent his opponent Majorie McKeithen 2-1 in one of the most negative battles the state has seen. Total contributions to the two exceeded $1.8 million. Complaints were filed with the Federal Elections Commission challenging Baker's campaign spending and the role his congressional staff played in financing campaigns. Baker's campaign reportedly did more than $500,000 in business with companies owned by the congressman, his wife and chief of staff. The campaigns spent more than $620,000 on television advertising from July 1 to October 28, 1998. McKeithen ran ads noting $800,00 given to Baker's campaign chest by banks and other financial institutions while he sits on the House Banking Committee. Baker's ads pointed at McKeithen's heavy campaign support from trial lawyers.

Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke will run for retiring Congressmen Bob Livingston's seat. Livingston shocked the nation after going for the speakers seat, pushing impeachment of the president then resigning after his personal life appeared less than spotless. Livingston represents a district which is 86% white, 49% Democrat and 33% Republican. Livingston first won in a 1977 special election after the incumbent plead guilty to violations of federal campaign finance laws.



The Governor

After holding off for three years Louisiana Governor Mike Foster finally released the names of those who contributed more than $500,000 to his transition and inauguration team. Until Foster, Louisiana governors treated transition funds the same as campaign contributions and disclosed donors. The Foster administration discovered a glitch in the state campaign finance laws that allowed him to collect contibutions larger than the $5000 limit on campaign contributions. He kept those contributions secret until he made up his mind to run for reelection. The donor list of 106 contributors plus six who got their money back included chemical interests $16,600; oil and gas interests $39,000; pesticide companies $4000; paper and timber interests $15,500; public utilities $15,000; heavy construction $56,300, general pro-business interests $32,500. When Governor Foster finally released the list of donors, he said the had simply grown tired of being asked who gave to his transition. "People would snarl at me and say,'You got something hid there,' and I felt like kicking them." Foster said."I just got tired of it."

Former four term Governor Edwin Edwards is currently charged with federal racketeering, extortion and other crimes allegedly committed in dealing with riverboat casino licenses.

State Legislature
In 1999 candidates for statewide office will have to file their reports electronically when contributions or loans total more than $50,000 during a reporting period. The Board of Ethics will operate the computer system, which will allow the public to check campaign finance reports online

Judges
At least 4 state appeal court judges have arranged for their courts to lease satellight offices from people who contribute to their election campaigns. The sate Code of Judicial Conduct requires judges to avoid the appearance of impropriety and to refrain from business dealings that tend to exploirt the judges's judicial position. However there is no law or ethics rule barring judges from setting up leases with campaign contributors.

The Louisiana Democracy Project, Inc. is a grassroots organization. Our motto is "We want government to make sense and Democracy to reign supreme."
We work on issues which relate to voter access. We are made up of both members and organizations. We were formally founded in 1998 and we have a diverse board of directors.
Louisiana Democracy Project, Inc.
is dedicated to educating, informing, and empowering citizens to becoming involved in the democratic process.


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