Cleo Fields, candidate for Louisiana Senate District 14: “There are some things in Louisiana that we ought not have to have a license to do.” Volunteers to sponsor bill to eliminate license requirement for hair braiders.

Former Congressman and former State Sen. Cleo Fields, who is a current candidate for Louisiana Senate District 14.

State Rep. Patricia Smith, who is a candidate for Louisiana Senate District 14.

Today’s meeting of the Baton Rouge Press Club was a forum of the two candidates for Louisiana Senate District 14:  Former U. S. Congressman (and former State Senator) Cleo Fields and State Rep. Patricia Smith.

Sound Off Louisiana‘s Robert Burns asked both candidates where they stand on the issue of removing licensing requirements for hair braiders.  Smith was also asked to justify her opposition to a bill by State Rep. Julie Emerson (R-Carencro) to do just that.  Let’s take a look at their responses:

Burns poses the question regarding support for a bill to exempt hair braiding from requiring a license and Fields’ response.

Now let’s take a look at Smith’s response together with her rationale for opposing Emerson’s bill:

Smith responds to the hair braiding question to include her rationale for her opposition.

Smith’s response is an absolute insult to our knowledge of behind-the-scenes negotiating that goes on at the Legislature.  Smith’s opposition (and that of many other members of the Legislative Black Caucus), contrary to her statement above that the opposition was based on “a lack of communication with the Cosmetology Board” (which is itself not a justification), is complete and utter horse manure!

We can state with unequivocal certainty that Smith’s opposition (and that of many other black state representatives) was based on a perception that Rep. Emerson would not be supportive of an increase in the minimum wage in Louisiana.

A bill to do that had just been stymied in a House Committee, and anger among black legislators spewed over, and Emerson happened to be the first legislator available upon whom to vent their frustration.

So, in other words, Smith and other black legislators were perfectly willing to suppress economic opportunities for their constituencies as a result of their dogmatic belief (despite university economists who teach that an arbitrary increase in the minimum wage increases unemployment among those earning that wage) that Louisiana’s minimum wage simply must be increased, end of story!  Wow!  That’s one hell of a way to represent a constituency!

It’s just that sort of twisted “logic” (and we’re being kind in our level of sarcasm) that necessitates entities like the Institute for Justice to end up being forced to sue the Cosmetology Board, while Smith seems to insist this Board has to be coddled and cajoled!

It is also abundantly clear from Smith’s answer that she is 100% clueless to the rampant corruption on the Cosmetology Board and that fact is almost unfathomable given the 12 years she has served in the Louisiana Legislature during which she should have become better educated regarding that Board’s corruption!

Based upon the sharply-contrasting responses to the question posed above and given that occupational licensing reform is the single most important issue to us at Sound Off Louisiana, it’s obvious that our choice for the next Senator from District 14 is Cleo Fields!

Burns posed one other question entailing rolling back the massive increase in sales taxes renewed in 2018 which have now resulted in a $500 million surplus.  Here are the candidates’ responses:

Fields and Smith provide their thoughts on rolling back sales tax increases in light of Louisiana’s $500 million budget surplus.


CLICK HERE for the forum in its entirety, which includes more than a little animus between the two candidates and Fields repeatedly stating that District 14 has been “without a State Senator” for 12 years.

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Sound Off Louisiana issues full set of endorsements for state-wide and legislative races.

U. S. Congressman Ralph Abraham, who is the top-of-ticket endorsement of Sound Off Louisiana for the 2019 election cycle.


Statewide Race Endorsements:


After careful review, Sound Off Louisiana makes the following endorsements (highlighted in red), which are also easily viewable by clicking here.  Note:  If you do not know your House or Senate District, CLICK HERE.



Ralph Abraham (REP)
Oscar “Omar” Dantzler (DEM)
John Bel Edwards (DEM)
Gary Landrieu (IND)
Patrick “Live Wire” Landry (REP)
“Eddie” Rispone (REP)


The negative attack ads by Rispone against Abraham (after committing on numerous occasions not to engage in such activity) have rendered Rispone unelectable in a runoff against Edwards in our opinion.  While we would certainly support Rispone in a runoff, the same cannot be said by many North Louisiana Republicans who have a strong affinity for Abraham and who are justifiably deeply offended by #1) the attack ads themselves, and #2) the despicable action of duplicating Gumbo PAC ads entailing charitable contributions on the part of Congressman Abraham.  We submit that, when a well-respected, conservative Republican Resentative like Alan Seabaugh (R-Shreveport) flips from Rispone to Abraham as a direct result of the ads, and popular conservative talk show host Moon Griffon, who had been neutral, spends 23 minutes lambasting Rispone over the move, our notion is reinforced.  Essentially, we believe Rispone has placed us all in an “Abraham or bust” position.


Lieutenant Governor:

Willie Jones (DEM)
William “Billy” Nungesser (REP)


Nunguesser cautions against overconfidence, but he should win this one by a pretty large margin.


Secretary of State:

Kyle Ardoin (REP)
“Gwen” Collins-Greenup (DEM)
Thomas J. Kennedy III (REP)
Amanda “Jennings” Smith (REP)


The power of incumbency and experience should cause Ardoin to cruise in this one.


Attorney General:

“Ike” Jackson, Jr. (DEM)
“Jeff” Landry (REP)


While we would have preferred Landry pursue additional corruption (some of which we submitted to his office), he certainly battled Edwards’ attempts to cram convicted felon Larry Bankston down voters’ throats, and he consistently challenged Edwards’ executive orders in court and prevailed.



Derrick Edwards (DEM)
Teresa Kenny (NOPTY)
John M. Schroder (REP)

Schroder has been instrumental in efforts to reform the capital outlay budgeting process, which he has never been bashful about referencing as “corrupt and constituting blackmail.”

Commissioner of Agriculture:

Marguerite Green (DEM)
“Charlie” Greer (DEM)
Michael G. “Mike” Strain (REP)
Peter Williams (DEM)
Bradley Zaunbrecher (REP)


Yes, Greer is a Democrat.  He has also effectively made the case on Moon Griffon’s show that Strain has been nonresponsive to farmers who have repeatedly sought his office’s assistance.  While Strain may have no time for farmers, he clearly has plenty of time to cater to florists.  Strain heavily fought a bill to eliminate the need to have a license to be a florist.  For that reason, Strain is a non-starter for us!  It’s that simple!  Regarding Zaunbrecher, he readily admits that he has no intention of winning this race and is merely attempting to establish name recognition for a 2023 run.


Commissioner of Insurance:

James J. “Jim” Donelon (REP)
“Tim” Temple (REP)

Both candidates have severe drawbacks; however, for Temple to slam previous Commissioners while simultaneously utilizing one of them (Wooley) in his effort to win is absolutely beyond the pale.  It’s indicative of someone who wants to have his cake and eat it too, and that tilted the scale for us in endorsing Donelon.


Constitutional Amendments:


Do you support an amendment to exempt raw materials, goods, commodities, personal property, and other articles stored in public and private warehouses and destined for the Outer Continental Shelf from ad valorem taxes? (December 1, 2019) (Amends Article VII, Section 21(D)(2) and (3))


YES.  This was an overreach by coastal parishes’ assessors that is almost certain to be challenged as a violation of the U. S. Constitution.  In our opinion, the plaintiffs will prevail in that litigation, and we taxpayers will once again be stuck with massive legal fees defending litigation which could have been avoided by voters pre-empting a court battle and exempting the items from this overly-aggressive action by coastal parish assessors.




Do you support an amendment to provide for appropriations from the Education Excellence Fund for the Louisiana Educational Television Authority, Thrive Academy, and laboratory schools operated by public postsecondary education institutions? (Amends Article VII, Section 10.8(C)(3)(b), (c), and (g); Repeals Article VII, Section 10.8(C)(3)(d))

NO. While the legislation is purported to “correct an oversight” entailing three (3) schools (Thrive, University Lab, and Southern University Lab) and only entails $75,000/year each plus the average per pupil amount the fund pays to other public schools, these schools already have substantial MFP funding and tuition which are already aided by Louisiana State taxpayer subsidies.




Do you support an amendment to protect taxpayers by requiring a complete remedy in law for the prompt recovery of any unconstitutional tax paid and to allow the jurisdiction of the Board of Tax Appeals to extend to matters related to the constitutionality of taxes? (Adds Article V, Section 35)


Not just NO, but HELL NO!  Given the rampant corruption we have seen by various boards and commissions with members appointed by the Governor, the last thing we want is yet another body of political hacks deciding the constitutionality of taxes!  We think it’s better to challenge the taxes in court and hope for an informed judge to make the ruling (which can then be appealed).  In all likelihood, taxpayers unhappy with a ruling would be challenged in the courts anyway.  This measure would thus merely add yet another layer of legal expenses incurred.  Even if the plaintiff is happy with the ruling of the Board, that happiness may likely result from connections rather than a proper interpretation of Louisiana’s Constitution.  We’ve seen way, way too much cronyism on appointed boards and commissions in Louisiana to go along with this amendment!




Do you support an amendment to allow the City of New Orleans to exempt property within Orleans Parish from all or part of ad valorem taxes that would otherwise be due for the purpose of promoting affordable housing? (Adds Article VII, Section 21(O))

NO. There are already too many subsidies both on the Federal and State level for “affordable housing,” and this proposal has waste and abuse stamped directly on its forehead!


HOUSE Endorsements:


DISTRICT 5 (Shreveport area):

Brian A. Salvatore (DEM)
Alan Seabaugh (REP)


See our commentary regarding Seabaugh’s quest to be the next Speaker of the House.


DISTRICT 39 (Carencro area):

Paul “Polo” Carter (DEM)
Julie Emerson (REP)


Emerson is a true champion for occupational licensing reform and voted “no” on every single occasion entailing the sales tax renewal of 2018!


DISTRICT 46 (St. Martinville area):

Keith Baudin (REP)
Virginia “Ginger” Benoit (REP)
Michael “Mike Pete” Huval (REP)

Baudin is about the only candidate (Bob Bell for Senate District 16 being the other — see below) willing to publicly state on camera that he will NOT vote for ANY tax increase.  As evidenced by the prior link, Huval has voted for many and has a disastrous voting record when it comes to occupational licensing reform.


DISTRICT 48 (New Iberia area):

“Beau” Beaullieu (REP)
Dana Dugas (REP)
Ricky Gonsoulin (REP)
David Levy (DEM)


Gonsolin has been one of the most effective interviewees we’ve listened to on the Moon Griffon show in a LONG time.  He demonstrates a genuine grasp of Louisiana’s dire need of tort reform and other important measures vital toward improving Louisiana’s languishing economy.


DISTRICT 51 (Houma area):

Beryl Amedee (REP)
Clayton Voisin (REP)

Amedee consistently voted against the sales tax renewals every single time in 2018.


DISTRICT 66 (Baton Rouge area):

“Rick” Edmonds (REP)
Morgan Lamandre (DEM)
David Smith (LBT)


Edmonds, along with Seabaugh and Miguez (unopposed), can be counted upon to always consistently oppose tax increases!


DISTRICT 71 (Denham Springs / Livingston area):

Lori Callais (DEM)
Jonathan Davis (REP)
Ivy Graham (REP)
“Buddy” Mincey, Jr. (REP)
Robert Poole (REP)


Davis is a young, energetic, conservative Republican whom we believe will represent his district well in the House.


DISTRICT 77 (Mandeville area):

Beverly Johnson (DEM)
Mark Wright (REP)


Wright voted “no” every single time entailing the 2018 sales tax renewals.


DISTRICT 95 (Albany/Springfield area):

Sherman Mack (REP)
Robin Parrott (DEM)

Mack also voted “no” every single time entailing the 2018 sales tax renewals.  While we support his re-election, we staunchly oppose his efforts to be the next Speaker of the House.


SENATE Endorsements:


DISTRICT 9 (Metairie area):

J. Cameron Henry, Jr. (REP)
Jon “Frankie” Hyers (REP)

Henry voted “no” every single time on the 2018 sales tax renewals.  He’ll be replacing conservative Senator Conrad Appel.


DISTRICT 10 (Kenner area):

Arita M. Lipps Bohannan (REP)
“Kirk” Talbot (REP)


Talbot strongly supports tort reform, and this election is key in making such reform a reality.  Talbot will be a sea change vs. the present senator to occupy that seat, Dan Martiny.


DISTRICT 11 (Mandeville area):

Daniel Ducote (REP)
Reid Falconer (REP)
Patrick McMath (REP)


Falconer consistently voted against the 2018 sales tax renewals and will be a strong conservative voice in the Louisiana Senate.


DISTRICT 12 (Franklington area):

Darrell Fairburn (DEM)
“Beth” Mizell (REP)


Mizell has been a rock-solid conservative voice in the Senate.  She should have no trouble whatsoever in her re-election efforts.


DISTRICT 13 (Livingston area):

Edith Carlin (REP)
Deven W. Cavalier (REP)
J. Rogers Pope (REP)

Critical race that Carlin needs to prevail in if the seat is to be solidly conservative!


DISTRICT 16 (Baton Rouge area):

Everett Baudean (LBT)
“Bob” Bell (REP)
Beverly Brooks Thompson (DEM)
“Steve” Carter (REP)
Franklin Foil (REP)

The fact that Bell is a huge underdog matters not to us.  He has been willing to commit on camera that he will not support any tax increase!  If the runoff ends up being Carter and Foil, we will make no endorsement thereof as both have hugely disappointing voting records from our perspective!

DISTRICT 20 (Houma area):

Brenda Leroux Babin (DEM)
Damon J. Baldone (REP)
Michael “Big Mike” Fesi (REP)
Jerry “Truck” Gisclair (DEM)
Shane Swan (REP)

Fesi is a major employer in the oil and gas service field and has created many jobs.  He’ll be a valuable member of the Senate if he prevails.

DISTRICT 25 (Jennings area):

Mark Abraham (REP)
Kevin M. Berken (REP)
John E. “Johnny” Guinn (REP)


This is the easiest race of all to analyze!  Berken has repeatedly stressed on Moon Griffon’s show his desire for tort reform and other business-friendly initiatives and his opposition to tax increases.  In sharp contrast, Mark “Mo taxes” Abraham has consistently voted for more taxes than we can count.  Guinn voted for so many taxes that he was inducted into American’s For Prosperity’s “Taker’s Dozen.”  As we have emphasized, he is also strongly supportive of the illegal practice of shill bidding to take from the bidding public at auctions.  Also, Guinn has quite the reputation at the State Capitol, and suffice to say it’s not a flattering one.  Is it any wonder that, in 12 years as a House member (thank God he’s term-limited out), no Speaker ever felt comfortable awarding him a committee chairmanship?


DISTRICT 28 (Ville Platte area):

Heather Cloud (REP)
Robert Johnson (DEM)
H. Bernard LeBas (DEM)

Attorney General Jeff Landry has called this “the most important Legislative race in this election cycle,” and we concur.  Both Johnson and LeBas would not even remotely be reflective of a fiscal conservative’s interests, and they both have voting records to demonstrate their love affair with taxation of the people they represent.


DISTRICT 36 (Bossier City area):

Ryan Gatti (REP)
Robert Mills (REP)
Mattie Preston (DEM)


Gatti may as well be John Bel Edwards’ clone and, God knows, it’s bad enough having to deal with one John Bel Edwards!  Having a second one serving in the State Senate masquerading around as a Republican is frustrating beyond words!  Mills, meanwhile, represents a fiscal conservative’s dream and has the backing of a heavy slate of powerful Republican lawmakers.

DISTRICT 38 (Shreveport area):

Katrina D. Early (DEM)
John Milkovich (DEM)
Barry Milligan (REP)

While Sen. Milkovich has been a champion of reforming occupational licensing in Louisiana, he has also blocked tort reform.  Further, he’s gotten a reputation for being hostile and combative to his colleagues oftentimes  alienating those sympathetic to his cause.  He is obviously banking on the “heartbeat bill” to get him over the bar, but Milligan would be far more inclined to get us to the promised land entailing tort reform.


Well, those are our recommendations, folks!  Please don’t fail to go vote on Saturday, October 12, 2019!

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Rispone’s scorched-earth tactic in race for Governor has left only two electable candidates: John Bel Edwards and Congressman Ralph Abraham.

U. S. Congressman Ralph Abraham, whom we at Sound Off Louisiana now firmly believe is the only electable Republican in the race for Louisiana Governor.

Immediately after U. S. Senator John Kennedy announced that he would not run against incumbent Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, we scrambled to create a a website touting U. S. Congressman Ralph Abraham as a clear preferred choice over Gov. Edwards.

Almost immediately, we began to hear pleas that we were “too soon” to make such a declaration, that we’d be stunned at the third major candidate, Eddie Rispone, a Baton Rouge businessman.  Sound Off Louisiana founder Robert Burns had already heard Rispone give a great presentation before a large crowd in Lake Charles at a Hayride function, and he was admittedly impressed.

After hearing from so many people whom we respect, we finally relented and converted the preceding website to a “Choice is Clear” of “a Republican” over Edwards without specifically touting Abraham.  We kept waiting (and waiting, and waiting) for Rispone to begin running ads that would gradually introduce himself to Louisiana citizens and, over time, explain his humble upbringings, his scrap and determination to form a business and grow it into the highly successful company it is today.

Those humble ads never materialized and, instead, after an incredibly lengthy period, what we got as the debut ad blitz for Rispone was a horrendously-bad commercial which made him appear like a buffoon incapable of doing anything but trumpeting his resounding support of U. S. President Donald Trump.  Within the ad, he discussed national topics which had little-to-no relevance to Louisiana State government and, being blunt, seemed like an insult to most Louisiana citizens’ intelligence.

Nevertheless, we continued to stay officially neutral as we were assured future ads would be far better than the debut disaster.  The ads did improve; furthermore, we didn’t hesitate to promote Rispone’s public statements on issues we deem as high priorities such as occupational licensing reform.

We then watched in stunned disbelief as Rispone began the negative attack ads against U. S. Congressman Ralph Abraham and, in the process, literally defying the guidance provided by more people than we could possibly itemize for this feature.  We personally believe the initial attack ad came as a result of Rispone dropping in polls (from 19 to 16); furthermore, we attribute that drop to a pretty effective attack ad by the Edwards-supporting Gumbo PAC commonly known as “phony Rispone.”  That ad alone was good enough to whop three points off Rispone’s tally in our opinion.

Still, we held out hope that the negative attack ads against Abraham would quickly cease and there would be a resumption of Rispone’s positive business-oriented message and, further, that attack ads on Edwards, rather than Abraham, would become the norm for Rispone.  We were dead wrong!  The negative attack ads against Abraham have been nothing short of relentless, and we ask that our subscribers take just one minute of their time to view a collection of quick clips of, first, Edwards attacking Abraham entailing legacy oil and gas litigation, only to be followed by Rispone pouring gas on the fire!  This one-minute video segment is from today’s Baton Rouge Press Club forum on the race for Governor of Louisiana.  Here’s the one-minute segment of video clips:

Edwards first slams Abraham, followed by reinforcement on the same issue by Rispone, who then slams Abraham on other occasions.

We were patient beyond what we feel we should have been regarding Rispone’s relentless attacks.  When major Rispone supporters like State Rep. Alan Seabaugh do a 180 and go from full-on support for Rispone to full-on support for Abraham as a direct result of Rispone’s ads, that speaks volumes!  When conservative talk show host Moon Griffon, who had remained neutral throughout the race, then endorses Abraham and devotes 23 minutes to lambasting Rispone’s tactic, that ought to tell the Rispone camp something, but we can only assume that…….well, on second thought, we’re not even going to publish speculation on why Rispone felt this level of desperation became necessary.

What we will say is that we’ve now spoken to quite a few Abraham supporters who have indicated there is “no way” they can rally behind Rispone after these nuclear attacks.  As a result, we now believe that there are only two electable candidates on the ballot:  Gov. John Bel Edwards and U. S. Congressman Ralph Abraham.

Maybe Rispone may have been a great Governor, but he is, in our opinion, unelectable at this point.  If we’re asked if we would still support Rispone if he’s in the runoff with Edwards, our answer is “yes,” but we know there aren’t enough Republicans also willing to do so (they’ve told us they’ll leave that ballot item unchecked for that race), so we have restored the Choice is Clear Louisiana to be a side-by-side comparison of Gov. Edwards with challenger U. S. Congressman Ralph Abraham.

To be blunt, given this turn of events, we’re sorry we ever changed the website’s layout in the first place, and, if we had any clue this is the path the race would eventually take, we certainly would not have.

We just hope now that the Abraham camp (or a PAC) can use the material on the site, and we note the incredible irony that it was the media in Thursday’s debate which deployed entry # 11, Johnny Anderson!  Is that not unbelievable?  The MEDIA had to use it against Edwards, and we certainly agree with  Hayride publisher Scott McKay that Abraham (now that Rispone is simply unelectable in our eyes) needs to make sure Edwards’ disastrous performance entailing the question needs to become the “mother of all 30-second attack ads.”

We now appeal to our subscribers and fellow Republicans who don’t want another four years of John Bel Edwards to rally around the gentleman we now believe is our only hope to avoid that scenario:  U. S. Congressman Ralph Abraham.

CLICK HERE to see the forum in its entirety.

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