It was an amazing weekend in New Orleans. The Saints played a shockingly good game on the road, LSU won in a rain-soaked, muddy Tiger Stadium and is now the #4 team in the nation, and, most importantly, Democrat John Bel Edwards exceeded expectations in Saturday’s primary. As for the Senior Senator from Louisiana, he went from 45% in the polls 2 months ago to capturing only 23% of the vote. A rather poor investment for 5+ million bucks. The candidate with 100% name recognition was rejected by 77% of the voters. Two weeks ago, I would have said that Edwards had no chance to prevail in a run-off but all bets are off after his strong showing in the primary. He finished on 40% 17 points ahead of Bitter Vitter.
I’ll circle back to the results and what might come next in a follow-up post but I want to focus on Vitter’s scandals right now. I cannot resist the drama of presenting this with a Odds & Sodsy segment header as well as a DRUM ROLL.
The Vitter Scandal Blotter: I got a little ahead of myself on the Gumshoe scandal on Friday. I assumed that Vitter was targeting Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand since he’s the most powerful and popular (re-elected with 90% on Saturday) political figure in the Parish. Vitter also hails from Jefferson and has long regarded the JPSO as a stone in his shoe. It was a logical assumption but when did logic ever factor into Gret Stet politics? I’ll let my friend Lamar White describe Team Vitter’s reaction:
A few hours after the private investigator was arrested, David Vitter issued a statement. He wanted the public to know he was not spying on Sheriff Normand. He was spying on the lawyer, John Cummings. He claimed he was spying on Cummings merely because Cummings was a donor to the Democratic candidate, John Bel Edwards. I’d suggest something else. I believe David Vitter hired and paid someone $130,000 to spy on John Cummings, a private citizen, because David Vitter is absolutely terrified about what John Cummings knows.
In the early days of my original blog, I did a bit of investigative blogging on post-K New Orleans issues. I dubbed my sources Deep Blog. In short, I did what Woodstein were suspected of: giving multiple sources one nickname. It’s time for the Return of Deep Blog. He/she/it is NOT Mark Felt. Dead men tell no tales…
Here’s the Deep Blog dish on Team Vitter’s fears. The gumshoe (I refuse to use Arthur Frenzel’s name because it’s more fun to call him that) was looking into a connection between Cummings and Jason Berry of American Zombie fame. Said gumshoe may have had some information on Berry in his possession. Deep Blog thinks that the Vitterites were trying to prove that John Cummings is paying Berry to dig into the Vitter-Hooker story. Wrong. I’ve had some differences with Jason but he is not for sale. He’s been on this story for years much like Inspector Javert searching for Jean Valjean or Sherlock Holmes going after Professor Moriarty, only his quarry was Wendy Three Names.
Deep Blog believes there may be a connection between Cummings and the World’s Only Investigative Zombie but that it’s not pecuniary in nature. That’s a fancy way of saying that Jason Berry is not for sale. Another tidbit he/she/it gave me is that the Bearden Investigative Agency in Dallas is the same firm hired by Congressman Steve Scalise to investigate Republicans running against him for majority whip. Scalise is, of course, also from Metairie in Jefferson Parish. They love digging in the dirt in suburbia, apparently.
The upside of hiring an out-of-state PI firm is deniability. It’s less likely to get back to the local powers that be. The downside is that gumshoe Frenzel didn’t see the Sheriff in the cafe with Cummings and think: ‘Holy shit. That’s Newell Fucking Normand with my target. I better skeddaddle pronto.’
Instead, Normand spotted the gumshoe who put the frenzy into Frenzel and fled. And like an Elmore Leonard character, he was found hiding behind an air-conditioning unit. Oy, just oy. This is Dewey Crowe or Dickie Bennett level dumbassery. I’ve come to believe that life not only imitates The Sopranos but Justified as well.
There’s another potential Vitter scandal on the horizon. Once again, this looks relatively comic on the surface but it *could* really bite him in his diapered derrière:
The same day that the coffee shop incident happened, David Vitter was in the area and was a passenger in a Mercedes-Benz which was involved in a minor car accident. According to local sources, David Vitter was quickly whisked away in another vehicle by a staffer and the driver of the Mercedes was cited for improper lane usage.
The driver was 36-year-old Courtney Gaustella Callihan, the wife of Bill Callihan, a director at Capital One Bank. Their home address is also listed as the address for Fund for Louisiana, the Super PAC backing Vitter, according to documents filed with the FEC.
This is sleazy in so many ways. Vitter’s instinctive reaction to trouble is to run away. Deep Blog called him an “ungallant pussy” for leaving Ms. Callihan sitting on Veterans Boulevard in the heart of Metry. That, however, is a mere sideshow compared to the possibility that Vitter is consulting with the PAC that is soiling Gret Stet airwaves with negative ads most of which scream, “OBAMA, OBAMA, OBAMA.”
It is a violation of campaign laws and even the dread Citizens United ruling for candidates to co-ordinate with PACS. Team Vitter’s likely defense is: We deny it but everybody does it. Maybe so but that doesn’t make it right. This is another example of how the Vitterites seem to have lost their political mojo. I’m not sure if they’re unraveling or imploding, but they’re making a lot of stupid mistakes. This violates my long-time adage: David Vitter is an asshole but he’s one smart asshole.
I’ll have more pundity on the Gret Stet Goober race later. I hope that Deep Blog will give me more mud to sling or muck to rake as the campaign progresses. As Sherlock Holmes would surely say, the game’s afoot. Btw, I see myself as either Basil Rathbone or Jeremy Brett, not Eggs Benedict Cummerbund. But I don’t mind being compared to another Peter:
This time Vitter might just have gone too far, gone too far, gone too far.
UPDATE: Vitter is trying to spin the gumshoe arrest story as an attempt by Normand to embarrass him. His latest lies are published in an interview with Gannett Louisiana. I expect an eruption from Sheriff Normand any time now.