Breaux's skeletons rise from the past
by Sam Hanna, Jr. - posted Tuesday, March 13th, 2007 @ 1:54 pm
The soap operaesque game of wait involving John Breaux recently got a breath of fresh air in light of the former U.S. senatorís remarks that he will have a set-to with Gov. Kathleen Blanco before making a decision on whether to become a candidate in the 2007 gubernatorial race.
It seems Breaux will meet with Blanco within the next couple of weeks. He is expected to inform her that she canít beat the frontrunner in the governorís race, Republican Congressman Bobby Jindal, if the two of them meet in a run-off in November.
Thatís what Breauxís spinning. Thatís what some of his friends in the media are spinning, too. Whether Blanco takes the bait and bows out of the governorís race in lieu of a Breaux comeback in Louisiana politics is anyoneís guess. Itís doubtful, though. Blanco appears to be too headstrong to roll over for Breaux, regardless of how popular he thinks he is in the eyes and minds of the electorate in Louisiana. Besides, is Breaux so sure of himself that heís willing to give up the financial security his job at the noted Washington lobbying firm, Patton Boggs, affords him and his family in the latter stages of his life?
While we wait on Breaux to bask in the glory of an over zealous media and the like falling all over itself in anticipation of a Breaux candidacy, it didnít take long for Breauxís detractors to dig up some old skeletons in the former senatorís closest to pass around, dangled like fresh fodder for the world to learn anew. Or rehashed for the people who forgot about it.
Some four years ago, The Los Angeles Times published a detailed, investigative report, outlying how some family members of members of the U.S. Senate had benefited financially from their fathers serving in the most exclusive club in the world. In many cases, the family members were paid a good bit of money for serving as lobbyists on Capitol Hill, hired by some of the largest companies in the world. It was a distinguished list, chock full of notables whose fathers were, or still are, powerful members of the Senate.
Yes, you guessed it. One of the family members of a senator who was retained to represent a whoís who of the business community beginning in at least 2001 was none other than John Breaux Jr., as in the son of then-Sen. Breaux, who retired from the Senate in 2005.
The Times discovered that young Breaux was paid some $1 million over the first two years he was in business for himself, consulting and lobbying for companies such as SBC Telecommunications, Advanced Life Support Alliance, Orion Refining Corp. and Daimler Chrysler. In some instances, legislation was pending before the Congress in which then-Sen. Breaux played a hand in greatly influencing the fate of the legislation in question. On other occasions, Breaux leaned on the Environmental Protection Agency and/or the Bush administration to relax rules and regulations affecting the oil and gas industry, namely Orion.
To be fair, though, people close to former Sen. Breaux and his son are adamant that young Breaux never discussed his clientís business with his father. And vice versa.
Thatís beside the point.
The point is former Sen. Breaux was a very powerful member of the Congress who served more than 30 years in the House and the Senate, agreeing to extend and collecting a world of favors along the way.
Thus, should it come as any surprise that a business concern would hire the senatorís son to lobby for its interests on Capitol Hill?
Of course, not.
Should it be surprising that a young man who happened to be the son of one of the most powerful members of the Congress at the time made a tidy sum of money for himself plying his trade as a lobbyist?
Of course, not.
It was, and still is, perfectly legal.
Was it, or is it still, somewhat unethical?
At the very least, it smacks of influence peddling.
That some of those old skeletons from Breauxís closet scurried about the state over the weekend told us that there exists a movement to make life as miserable as possible for Breaux while he dickers around in making a decision on whether to run for governor.
That means one of two things.
Either some people are nervous about the impact Breaux would have on the í07 gubernatorial campaign or the information that resurfaced over the weekend was a precursor of more to come concerning Breauxís past, personally and professionally, if he becomes a candidate.
Sam Hanna, Jr. is publisher of The Ouachita Citizen, and he serves in an editorial/management capacity with The Concordia Sentinel and The Franklin Sun, three newspapers owned and operated by the Hanna family. Hanna can be reached by calling (318) 805-8158 or by emailing him at email@example.com.