Rep. Garofalo, unopposed for re-election to his Louisiana House Seat, gears up to largely self fund a Super PAC to become the next Speaker of the House.

Louisiana State Rep. Raymond Garofalo, Jr., who plans to largely self-fund a Super PAC for the purpose of having his colleagues select him as the next Speaker of the Louisiana House of Representatives.

In today’s Sound Off Louisiana feature, founder Robert Burns provides an assessment of the prospects of each of nine (9) purported contenders for the next Speaker of the House of Representatives position and outlines the criteria he utilized to ultimately endorse State Rep. Raymond Garofalo, Jr. (R-Chalmette) for the position:

Burns assesses the contenders for the next Speaker of the Louisiana House of Representatives and provides his rationale for ultimately endorsing Garofalo.

Support links and added commentary on the other eight contenders:

Sound Off Louisiana’s Wall of Excellence outlining the twenty one (21) members of the Louisiana Legislature who voted NO every single time on the sales tax renewal votes in 2018.

This was our first criterion for elimination, and it resulted in five (5) of the nine (9) falling off.

Let’s consider those five (5) first:

State Rep. Lance Harris, R-Alexandria, House District 25

Despite calling a press conference and publicly assuring taxpayers that the Louisiana GOP delegation “had their backs” regarding standing firm on not renewing Gov. Edwards’ sales tax renewal, Harris nevertheless authored a bill to renew 1/3 of the penny!

This past session, he sponsored a bill to gradually roll back the ultimate tax renewal of 0.45 cent (see Paula Davis below).  Further, U. S. Congressman Ralph Abraham contacted Harris mere hours after the defeat of Harris’ bill and indicated that, if elected Governor, Harris should “run the bill again” and that Abraham, as Governor, would ensure it’s passed.  Harris subsequently formally endorsed Abraham for Governor.  From the preceding article:

Harris cited Abraham’s support for his failed bill to roll back the seven-year tax compromise struck by state lawmakers last year. Harris proposed an early phase-out of the 0.45% state sales tax that formed the compromise’s centerpiece.

Edwards opposed the bill, and state senators killed it in May.

“That very afternoon, Ralph Abraham called me and said, ‘Run it again. When I’m governor, I’ll sign and pass that bill,'” Harris says in the video. “Ralph is a strong conservative. He’s honest, and he has the guts to do what’s right.”

Our assessment? Had Harris stood firm on his convictions in conformity with his press conference, there would be no need whatsoever for a bill to try and rescind the sales tax renewal! It’s about like saying, “Let us fix this mistake we ourselves made,” when numerous colleagues (especially Rep. Alan Seabaugh – see below) stated very publicly in no uncertain terms that a mistake was being made and that revenue collections were going to far exceed what the Edwards administration was willing to acknowledge (and they have, resulting in $300 million surpluses).

If Harris had ambitions toward being Speaker, he should have stood by his publicly-stated convictions and not caved to Edwards’ threats of TOPS cuts, etc.  We seek someone who will actually defend taxpayers and not merely say they will in a very public manner, only to then wilt like a dazy.

Rep. Clay  Schexnayder, R-Gonzales, District 81

Beyond consistently supporting the sales tax renewals, Schexnayder chairs the House Committee on Agriculture where he gave a rather idiotic reason for why he believes Louisiana should remain as the only state which licenses florists. We’d go fetch the video to demonstrate his bone-headed rationale, but frankly it’s not worth our time or energy, and neither is any serious consideration of Schexnayder as the next House Speaker!

Rep. Jack McFarland, R-Jonesboro, District 13

Was on board for the sales tax renewals from beginning to end!  He’s an easy pass for any serious fiscal conservative.

Rep. Paula Davis, R-Baton Rouge, District 69

Actually sponsored the final bill which resulted in the massive 0.45 cent sales tax renewal taxpayers are now enduring. We’ve been told that she did so because her district, “heavily backs LSU and they have no problem with a sales tax increase.”

Our assessment?:

Well, her district’s constituents very well may view the $300 or so they’ll pay in extra sales taxes a year (funny how that 0.45 percent adds up, huh?) as a drop in the bucket, and they may very well take the attitude of, “Hell, I spend ten times that much on sponsoring a tailgate party before a single LSU game!”

Well, we have no problem with Davis being nominated Queen of District 69 (her district) for stepping up to the plate for her constituents and their apparent indifference toward sales tax increases.  The House Speaker is a position to represent ALL constituents of Louisiana, however, and we believe it would send the worst possible message imaginable to fiscal conservatives for Davis to be rewarded for her bill sponsorship by becoming Louisiana’s next House Speaker!

Rep. Stuart Bishop, R-Lafayette, District 43

Consistently supported sales tax increase and sponsored a bill to increase the licensing fee for cosmetologists so that they can continue their obstruction of basic economic liberties, resulting in the Institute for Justice having to sue the State Board of Cosmetology to permit hair braiders to operate without the need for 500 useless hours of coursework that can’t even be obtained except for one school in Monroe.  For Bishop to have sponsored such a bill is mind-boggling to us given all of the rampant corruption of the Cosmetology Board which was either known, or certainly should have been known, by Bishop upon his bill sponsorship.  Here’s the ending disposition of Bishop’s bill (from Louisiana Legislature website):

HB711   by Representative Stuart J. Bishop         

COSMETOLOGY:  Provides relative to the Louisiana Cosmetology Act (EG +$432,205 SG RV See Note)

Current Status:  Failed House final passage

Actionsort history by ascending dates
05/20H32Read third time by title, roll called on final passage, yeas 57, nays 27. The bill, not having received two-thirds vote of the elected members, failed to pass.
05/20H32Called from the calendar.
05/14HScheduled for floor debate on 5/20/2015.
05/14H22Notice given.
04/22H28Read by title, returned to the calendar.
04/21H12Read third time by title, roll called on final passage, yeas 53, nays 41. The bill, not having received two-thirds vote of the elected members, failed to pass. Motion to reconsider pending.
04/15HScheduled for floor debate on 04/21/2015.
04/15H6Read by title, ordered engrossed, passed to 3rd reading.
04/14H4Reported favorably (16-0).
04/13H83Read by title, under the rules, referred to the Committee on Commerce.
04/03HUnder the rules, provisionally referred to the Committee on Commerce.

Of course, who can forget last year’s bar fight entailing Bishop?  That’s certainly not a selling point for Bishop by any means.  Bishop also apparently failed to send any memo on the Cosmetology Board to Rep. Sherman Mack (see below).

Now let’s move on to the four finalists who survived the Wall of Excellence thinning out:

Rep. Sherman Mack, R-Albany, District 95

As any long-time Sound Off Louisiana subscriber knows, the # 1 most critical item for us is the problematic occupational licensing for low-wage professions that exists in Louisiana.  Even though Mack cleared the hurdle regarding being on the Wall of Excellence, he has failed miserably entailing his voting record entailing occupational licensing reform, to wit:

As we mentioned in the Bishop assessment above, Mack clearly never got any heads-up memo from Bishop entailing the Cosmetology Board.  Accordingly, he came across looking like an absolute buffoon and complete and total patsy when he agreed to carry the water for that Board and sponsored a bill to do the same exact thing Bishop sought to do!  He did so in 2017, two years after Bishop made his ill-advised attempt in 2015.  Like Bishop, he failed miserably at his goal; furthermore, all anyone has to do is watch the video on the preceding link to easily see just how clueless Mack comes across regarding the whole purpose of the bill (which had to be amended on the spot to even accomplish that purpose, which was a 40% increase in the licensing fee for a Cosmetology license).  As an aside, State Rep. Robert Johnson, D-Marksville, sponsored the same identical measure again in 2018, and he too failed miserably.  Johnson, who is seeking to become a State Senator, will hopefully fail at that endeavor, and a far more conservative Senator in the name of Heather Cloud will emerge victorious in that race!

As if that were not bad enough and, again, as long-time Sound Off Louisiana subscribers are aware (many of whom focus heavily on occupational licensing as well because of their own abuses from those boards and commissions in Louisiana), Mack opposed the single most important legislation we have traced in that regard, which was Sen. John Milkovich’s SB-260 last year providing licensees with the OPTION to have an administrative hearing heard by a disinterested party (the Division of Administrative Law).  As we said then and, as referenced in the video above by placing the cell phone in front of the camera, we highlighted every single Republican member of the Louisiana House of Representatives who voted “no” on that measure.  Such individuals are non-starters for us in considering supporting.  There’s simply no other way to express how critical that vote was to those of us who have been harassed by occupational licensing boards.  For review here’s a highlighted list of those state representatives:

Beyond that, Mack, who TRUST US ON THIS ONE, is keenly aware of the corruption within the auction industry (and we emphasize “keenly“), chose to vote in favor of a highly ill-advised amendment that State Rep. Nicholas Muscarello, Jr. (R-Hammond) sponsored to specifically exclude auctioneers from SB-260, an amendment which failed miserably by a vote of 33-52.  Hence, despite Rep. Mack clearing the hurdle of the “Wall of Excellence” entailing opposing the sales tax renewal, he is nothing short of an unmitigated disaster when it comes to occupational licensing reform and, through acts such as those itemized, is in fact a large part of the problem!

NOTE:  Both Mack and Bishop plan to have Super PACs to advance their cause to become the next Speaker with those PACs funded with OPM (other people’s money).


Rep. Barry Ivey, R-Central, District 65

Every conservative state representative in the Legislature would openly pose the question, “Why are you even including Ivey?”  The simple reason is that we’ve heard from our sources at the Legislature that, if Gov. Edwards prevails in his quest to be re-elected Governor, his first act soon after celebrating the election returns will be to pick up the phone and ask Ivey to serve as Speaker.

Our sources also tell us that Edwards feels strongly that he has enough Democratic votes that he can line up to support Ivey (who has been heavily complimented by a number of members of the Legislative Black Caucus) that Ivey will obtain the Speaker position.

Ivey is most definitely a highly-principled individual, and we are extremely grateful to him for his willingness to permit Sound Off Louisiana’s Burns to lay bare some of the rank corruption of the Auctioneer’s Licensing Board.  In fact, it was Ivey who was willing to ensure that both dentists and auctioneers remained in SB-260.  Further, Ivey was willing to propose bold and BADLY-NEEDED governmental pension reform in Louisiana by introducing HB-28 in the most recent Legislative session.  We will have a future post showing the lambasting of him at a recent Louisiana State Police Retirement Board meeting, which sounded much more like a union hall meeting than a meeting of a retirement board.  They lamented the fact that, despite Ivey’s bill being essentially dead on arrival, he plans to try again because he believes sincerely in his heart (and we concur with him) that the current retirement system for state employees is simply unsustainable.

On the negative side for Ivey, he did make an open statement on the House Floor regarding discussions that transpired within the Louisiana House Republican Delegation that a certain bill would be opposed, “because we don’t want Edwards to have a win.”  While we don’t challenge the fact that such an utterance was made, we don’t feel it was appropriate to air that sort of material in an open forum, and there can be little doubt it angered the top brass of Louisiana Republicans in the House when he did that.

Just because those sentiments may have been expressed by one or more members of the Delegation is not an indication that the individual(s) were speaking for everyone. By airing that commentary in an open forum, it is painting the entire Delegation with a broad brush, and it causes distrust and discord within the entity. Most likely, in hindsight, Ivey likely wishes he could unwind the clock and not have made his commentary; however, that’s an instance where one has to gain control of one’s emotions. Being Speaker is a demanding job wherein strife is inevitable, and Ivey didn’t perform well in that instance at handling strife.

Further, Ivey also took heat for advancing a gas tax bill out of committee several years ago when a “no” vote on his part would have killed it in committee.  Finally, in a bizarre move, Ivey was MIA for a few days soon thereafter.

Considering everything, Ivey certainly has some major strengths, but his negatives outlined above would preclude him from ever obtaining enough Republican support to become Speaker if it were Republicans alone making the decision.  Nevertheless, as we indicated at the outset, our sources tell us that, if Edwards prevails, Ivey is the go-to man Edwards will tap, and the belief within the Administration is that they will have the necessary Democratic votes to get Ivey elected as Speaker.

Rep. Alan Seabaugh, R-Shreveport, District 5

WOW!!  It’s really tough to exhaustively state all of the positive things we feel for Rep. Alan Seabaugh, but we’ll try to at least itemize a few!  First, he’s not only a Member of the “Wall of Excellence,” he is essentially Captain of it for his high-profile “running out the clock” to block a blatantly-unconstitutional bill for the reasons Seabaugh stated on the preceding link’s video!  He has been willing to flat-out call-out Gov. Edwards for being a bald-faced liar in stating he’s “cut” the budget!

While we strongly admire him for his tenacity, Seabaugh likely will have a tough time clearing the hurdle of a majority of the House members because he’s viewed as inflexible and dogmatic as evidenced by videos on the preceding links.  Finally, though we believe at the time that Seabaugh simply wasn’t well informed regarding the corruption on the Louisiana Auctioneer Licensing Board, he too, like Mack above, voted in favor of the highly ill-advised Muscarello amendment referenced above.

Hence, while we would be very happy with Seabaugh as Speaker (and we feel he’s deserving of it), as we handicap the race, we see one candidate more likely to actually procure the position, and he is ………………

Rep. Raymond Garofalo, Jr., R-Chalmette, District 103

Rep. Garofalo cleared the hurdle of being a Member of the Wall of Excellence and, additionally, he has a voting record that demonstrates a great comprehension of the obstructionist (and often corrupt) natures of many of these occupational licensing boards and commissions.  Importantly, he voted “NO” entailing the highly ill-advised Muscarello amendment referenced above.  He obviously also supported final passage of SB-260 last year.  Finally, he was one of the earliest advocates for tort reform by introducing a bill to reduce the jury trial threshold to zero in 2014!  As long-time subscribers are aware, that was an issue which was critical to us in the 2015 election for Governor.  In fact, that was so much so the case that Sound Off Louisiana’s Burns gave a 7-minute fire-and-brimstone sermonette on that very topic days before the election, for which several members of Vitter’s campaign headquarters in Metairie reached out to Burns personally and expressed appreciation (and a VERY promitnent Baton Rouge attorney for whom Burns has admiration called the next day pleading with Burns to “cool it,” a plea which was obviously ignored).

Just this very day, Tuesday, August 13, 2019, Gumbo PAC, the same crew who bankrolled $6 million or so to defeat Vitter using nothing but hooker ads, today released an attack ad against Rispone followed soon thereafter by an absolutely pathetic attack ad against Abraham because these folk view both major Republican candidates for Governor as a threat similar to Vitter four years ago.

As our headline indicates, Garofalo intends to largely finance his Super PAC for obtaining the Speaker’s position using HIS OWN money, which is a sharp contrast to Bishop and Mack as indicated previously.

So, given Garofalo’s tenacity on pursuing reducing the jury trial threshold to zero, when combined with his other highly favorable attributes and voting record and self-funding his PAC to become Speaker, make him our choice for the next Speaker of the Louisiana House of Representatives.

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