The Wall Street Journal recently spotlighted Governor John Bel Edwards’ particular brand of good ole boy politics.
In a column entitled, “The Governor and Louisiana Lawyers Plot an Energy Shakedown,” writer Allysia Finley details the slimy relationship Louisiana’s governor has with various trial lawyers – many of whom bankrolled his 2015 campaign win – and how Edwards is returning the favor by supporting lawsuits against the state’s largest employer: the oil and gas industry.
“Shortly after taking office in January 2016, he met with oil and gas companies and issued an ultimatum: Fork over billions of dollars to help restore Louisiana’s eroding coastline or brave a drawn-out legal battle.”
The drawn-out legal battle referenced serves only to line the pockets of Edwards’ trial lawyer buddies, while agitating the oil and gas companies. For a man running a state that is struggling to secure more jobs and shed a bad business climate moniker, ticking off a major economic engine is the last thing Edwards should be trying to do.
The oil and gas industry employed about 5% of the state’s workforce, contributed about 10% of its aggregate payroll and accounted for between 10% and 15% of tax revenues, according to a 2016 report by Louisiana State University’s Center for Energy Studies.
Instead, Edwards convinced six coastal parishes to join his lawsuit crusade on the oil and gas industry, which is being led by the law firm Talbot, Carmouche & Marcello. That firm also just so happened to have raised $2 million for a super PAC to help Edwards win his 2015 election.
In the words of Finley, “Such apparent political back-scratching isn’t a crime unless an explicit quid pro quo occurs, but all of this smells worse than rotten crawfish.”