Attorney General Jeff Landry, on March 4, 2021, touts his proposed blueprint settlement with Freeport McMoRan. On October 25, 2022, it was announced that DNR has signed the agreement on behalf of four (4) parish presidents against their wishes, thus reinforcing Landry’s contention that, “the buck stops with this office, me, for signing these types of agreements.”
When we published this feature regarding the St. Martin Parish Council calling an impromptu meeting to pour cold water all over Attorney General Jeff Landry’s blueprint settlement agreement with Freeport McMoRan, it was one of the least viewed features we’ve ever published.
Now that Landry has officially announced his candidacy for Governor of Louisiana, look for the subject matter of that feature to take on new meaning. Why? Well, mainly because today, October 25, 2022, it was announced that a deal has been reached for the $100 million Freeport settlement.
When we published the feature linked above, we intentionally provided (for the first time), Attorney General Jeff Landry’s full press conference of March 4, 2021 touting him proposing the agreement. We knew that very few viewers would take the time to watch the full video, and we knew that would mean they would fail to see one simple question posed by Sound Off Louisiana founder Robert Burns entailing the proposed settlement.
Knowing that the settlement was likely to encounter stiff resistance from at least some of the 12 Louisiana parishes which may be affected by the settlement, Burns posed the question of whether parish presidents were required to sign off on the agreement. Let’s take just 40 seconds to see Burns pose the question and provide Landry’s response:
March 4, 2021: Burns asks Landry if parish presidents are required to sign off on his proposed Freeport settlement and Landry making it clear that his position is an emphatic “no,” and that the “buck stops with this office…me!”
This development (the signing of the agreement) should become very interesting as the campaign for Governor heats up. From the preceding article on the settlement:
The settlement required 12 coastal parishes with environmental damage caused by oil and gas companies to approve the deal, but four of them — Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin and Iberia — refused, saying they preferred to work with companies on voluntary projects to restore wetlands lost to the Gulf of Mexico over the past century.
The deadlock was broken when the state Department of Natural Resources signed the deal on behalf of the holdout parishes, a move that ran counter to the parish governments’ wishes but will likely boost their restoration efforts.
In refusing to sign the deal, Lafourche President Archie Chaisson III blamed the disappearing coast not on the oil and gas industry but on Mississippi River levees, which prevent sediment from rebuilding land along the coast.
In 2020, Terrebonne Parish President Gordon Dove praised the industry’s contributions to his parish’s economy while blasting the settlement, which he called “a money grab” by trial lawyers.
Acting against Dove’s wishes, Terrebonne Parish District Attorney Joseph Waitz Jr. signed off on the deal and hired an outside law firm to represent him in a possible lawsuit.
Let us briefly remind everyone of something we printed in that feature linked at the beginning of this feature:
Landry’s blueprint settlement was strongly backed by the most prominent trial lawyer coordinating lawsuits by municipalities against oil producers for such erosion, John Carmouche.
One doesn’t really have to have much on the ball to see what is going on here. Naturally, a John Bel Edwards DNR would be more than happy to sign off on the deal, but why is Landry such a cheerleader for the deal?
The answer, we believe, is actually quite simple! It was Carmouche who poured millions into GUMBO PAC in 2015 to air highly negative attack ads against then-U. S. Sen. David Vitter to ensure a John Bel Edwards win (simply click on the “John Carmouche” link above).
Landry, having worked closely with U. S. Sen. John Kennedy to elect candidates strongly supportive of tort reform (something Carmouche would oppose tooth and nail) such as State Sen. Heather Cloud (such reform was enacted in 2020 but there’s a LONG way still to go), simply cozied up to Carmouche to get the deal done in a brazen and very thinly-veiled attempt to shied himself from the same type of negative ads to which Carmouche subjected Vitter in 2015.
We firmly believe it’s literally that simple! We have always contended that negative attack ads are far, far more effective than any positive message a candidate can present to the voters (Edwards is living proof), and Landry knows that.
So, in our minds, it’s pretty basic what happened here and, quite frankly, it was precisely what we expected to happen when we posed the question of Jeff Landry on March 4, 2021. His response and this whole recent development entailing this settlement is one reason why we’ve made no secret of the fact that we are in no way enthused by Landry’s quest to become Louisiana’s next governor.
While Landry may have shielded himself from GUMBO PAC negative attack ads (and there’s no guarantee he’s even accomplished that with this deal), he can also take it to the bank that he’ll be on the receiving end of attack ads from his Republican opponents in the 2023 race for Governor.
Based on our sources, who is one of those likely Republican opponents (and who will likely get flooded with oil and gas money with which to attack Landry)?
That would be none other than Louisiana State Sen. Sharon Hewitt, a career engineer with an oil company herself. Let’s take a look again at what Hewitt had to say about Landry’s settlement blueprint:
Louisiana State Senator Sharon Hewitt (R-Slidell):
This settlement scheme is nothing more than a backroom deal that threatens the future of oil and gas jobs in Louisiana……..This secret settlement begins a dangerous path that leads to false promises, bankruptcies, and job losses. I’m certain it’s as dead this year in the legislature as it was last. I will work with my colleagues in the legislature to expose this shakedown, save those jobs, and fight for real solutions that restore our coast.
This development is just one reason we expect to see nothing short of an absolute bloodbath within the Republican ranks as its candidates compete against one another to replace John Bel Edwards. Look for Landry to be on the receiving end of a ton of attack ads from his competitors now that this deal has been crammed down the throats of four parish presidents.
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