LABI President Stephen Waguespack.
In today’s Sound Off Louisiana feature, founder Robert Burns examines the campaign finance reports for the three (3) candidates for an an opening on the First Circuit Court of Appeals. Republican candidate Chris Hester’s report is troubling to Burns due to Hester’s extensive reliance upon the Louisiana trial lawyer cabal to fund his campaign. Burns found this fact perplexing given that the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI), which fought so diligently for tort reform in the most recent Legislative Session, has openly endorsed Chris Hester. From the preceding link:
For months, we have gathered information from the legal community and interviewed over 60 candidates, seeking out individuals who support greater efficiency and transparency in the third branch of government. We’re pleased to endorse this slate of candidates for the judiciary who embrace those ideas,” said Bo Staples, LABI PAC Director. “Our regional PACs have met for weeks, getting to know these candidates, their backgrounds, motivations and gain a feel for their judicial temperament, and were extremely encouraged by what they heard. We encourage voters to get to know these candidates and support their campaigns.
1st Circuit, 2nd District, SubDistrict 1, Division A
Beyond Hester’s extensive reliance upon the trial lawyer cabal to fund his campaign, perhaps only slightly less alarming is the fact that the Louisiana AFL-CIO, hardly an organization to closely align itself with LABI and its endorsed candidates, has also endorsed Hester as evidenced by the following Hester campaign material:
Let’s take a moment to view Burns’ concerns over LABI’s Hester endorsement both from the vantage point of Hester’s extensive reliance upon the Louisiana trial lawyer cabal to fund his campaign and Hester’s endorsement by the AFL-CIO:
Burns expresses his concerns over the LABI and AFL-CIO endorsements of Chris Hester for the open seat on the First Circuit Court of Appeal.
As mentioned on the preceding video, at 9:17 a.m. on Monday, October 19, 2020, we called LABI President Stephen Waguespack and left him a voicemail offering him the opportunity to contact us and state on-the-record why LABI had a high level of comfort with Hester given his extensive reliance upon the Louisiana trial lawyer cabal to finance his campaign and also the AFL-CIO endorsement of Hester. We indicated we’d keep the window open until close of business on October 19, 2020 to hear back from Waguespack and, at 3:53 p.m., LABI PAC Director Bo Staples did call us.
Staples emphasized that the endorsement of Hester was made prior to the campaign finance reports being released and that, with the benefit of those reports, LABI may have requested a “follow up” with Hester. Staples emphasized that, “through the questionnaire and interviewing process” that both Johanna Landreneau and Chris Hester were candidates that LABI “liked.” He then stressed that he felt the need to issue a sole endorsement because of the “shifting demographics” of the district. Staples then emphasized that, “it is not a sure thing that the district will remain in Republican hands.” He said that the vote would likely end up being 52-48, “if Melanie (Jones – the sole Democratic candidate in the race) doesn’t win outright (in the primary).”
Staples further stressed that Hester’s endorsement was based upon Hester, “being the only judge in the race.” He emphasized that Hester is the only one who has won an election having run twice and prevailing in one election. He also said that Jones had run, “at least once, maybe twice” and that she had failed to win an election, and he stressed that Landreneau, “has never run in an election.” He concluded by indicating that LABI feels that Hester is the most “electable” of the two Republicans in the race.
For anyone wishing to examine the other candidates’ campaign finance reports, here they are: Johanna Landreneau’s campaign finance report and Melanie Newkome Jones’ campaign finance report. In examining them, we certainly don’t see any reliance upon trial lawyers to finance the campaigns of either of these two Hester opponents in the race. Meanwhile, here’s a table summarizing Hester’s extensive reliance upon the Louisiana trial lawyer cabal to finance his campaign:
|Name of Campaign Contributor to Hester's Campaign||Date of Contribution||Amount of Contributioon|
|Balfour Emonet||September 15, 2020||$2,500|
|Beall and Thies, LLC||August 24, 2020||$2,500|
|Bohrer Brady, LLC||August 22, 2020||$1,000|
|Brock and Palmintier Law, LLC||August 19, 2020||$500|
|Dana Brown||September 16, 2020||$2,500|
|Michael V. Clegg||September 15, 2020||$2,500|
|Christopher Deagano||September 8, 2020||$1,000|
|Degravelles and Palmintier||September 12, 2020||$2,500|
|Dodson and Hooks||September 20, 2020||$2,500|
|Donald Cazayoux (Campaign account)||September 21, 2020||$500|
|Dudley Debosier Injury Lawyers||August 9, 2020||$2,500|
|Due Guidry Piedrahita Andrews LC||September 15, 2020||$2,500|
|John N. Degravelles, LLC||September 16, 2020||$2,500|
|Joseph Jolissaint||September 15, 2020||$500|
|Kleinpeter, Schwartzberg, Boutwell||September 1, 2020||$2,500|
|Joseph J. Long||August 5, 2020||$500|
|Murphy Law Firm||September 15, 2020||$2,500|
|John Greg Murphy||August 31, 2020||$1,000|
|Papillion Thomas Cullens Holdings, LLC||September 10, 2020||$2,500|
|Piere and Shows, APLC||August 24, 2020||$250|
|Rozas Law Firm||August 24, 2020||$500|
|Saunders LTD||September 15, 2020||$1,500|
|Scotty Chabert, Jr., LLC||September 15, 2020||$1,000|
|Spencer H. Callahan, LLC||September 15, 2020||$2,500|
|Tomeny Law Firm, LLC||September 21, 2020||$2,500|
|Williamson, Fontenot, Whittington, and Campbell, LLC||September 15, 2020||$2,500|
So, by our math, a total of $45,750 out of Hester’s $85,575 in funds raised, or 53 percent, was derived from the Louisiana trial lawyer cabal. That’s just a tad (okay, more than a tad!) too rich of influence by the trial lawyer cabal which has kept Louisiana in a “judicial hell hole” for decades for our blood. In short, we don’t have a comfort level, given his extensive reliance upon the trial lawyer cabal to fund his campaign, with him being the next judge on the First Circuit Court of Appeal.
For the most part, we at Sound Off Louisiana are extremely supportive of LABI’s endorsements because they do not hand them out lightly. Nevertheless, under these circumstances, we are letting this particular endorsement go in one ear and straight out the other, and we are openly endorsing Johanna Landreneau for the vacancy on the First Circuit Court of Appeal.
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