Landrieu phone squad: the Boustany connection

The four conservative activists arrested for tampering with the phones of Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu earlier this week have been linked to the Pelican Institute, a conservative New Orleans think tank. Pelican is a relatively new organization, but it appears to have strong ties to members of the state’s Republican elite, most notably Representative Charles Boustany.

Though only one of the tamperers is from Louisiana, Pelican appears to have been the group’s home base there. The apparent ringleader, James O’Keefe — also the activist behind last September’s ACORN videotape — spoke at a Pelican Institute luncheon last week. Another one of the four, Robert Flanagan, is a paid blogger for Pelican (Flanagan is the son of the acting US attorney in Shreveport, Bill Flanagan). Pelican’s founder, Kevin Kane, blogs at BigGovernment, the site where O’Keefe first posted the ACORN video.

TPMMuckraker has found that Pelican “enjoys a prominent voice in Louisiana political circles.” A close look at its board of directors helps explain why this is the case.

Pelican listed three board members on its 2008 990 (available from Guidestar): founder Kevin Kane, lawyer Stephen Gele, and one “J LeBlanc.” A LinkedIn page reveals that the listing refers to Jennifer LeBlanc, a Republican fundraiser who chaired the Lousiana finance committee of presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani in 2008.

LeBlanc is extremely tightly linked to Representative Charles Boustany, who was a close friend of her late husband, Patrick LeBlanc, before he died in a 2008 plane crash. LeBlanc was a top Boustany donor, as well, and he and Jennifer hosted a high-profile fundraiser for his Congressional campaign in 2005. Vice president Dick Cheney was the featured guest. The LeBlancs, Boustany, and Senator David Vitter all endorsed Rudy Giuliani’s campaign for president in 2007.

Boustany and Cheney.
Boustany and Cheney.

Boustany also endorsed LeBlanc during his unsuccessful run for state representative that year. That bid was undone by ongoing scandals related to LeBlanc’s prison operation and construction business, LCS Corrections. The company operates private prisons throughout the southeast and Texas, and has been investigated by the FBI for “contracting irregularities” related to possible bribery schemes.

Boustany’s brother-in-law, Christopher Edwards, was LeBlanc’s attorney during his campaign, and threatened to sue LeBlanc’s opponent over a negative ad. Edwards is the nephew of disgraced Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards.

When Patrick LeBlanc died, Boustany released the following statement:

“Pat was my dear friend, a loving family man and a leader in the Lafayette community. It is a terrible loss, and my thoughts and prayers are with Jennifer and his children. Bridget and I will miss him greatly.”

Boustany and Pelican were both out in front of the ACORN scandal in August and September.

Boustany was one of the first members of Congress to react to news of the ACORN videotape last September. The day after the news broke, on September 11, 2009, he called for a House Oversight investigation of the group’s tax prep activities.

TPM has reported that Pelican published an investigative report on ACORN in August 2009, one month before the O’Keefe videotape was released. The report alleged that ACORN had evaded federal taxes on a number of occasions.

Was there coordination between Boustany, BigGovernment, Pelican, and O’Keefe? What role does Jennifer LeBlanc play at the Pelican Institute? Who funds the organization?

There’s still a lot more to learn here, but this is shaping up to be a very interesting scandal. Leia and WileECoyote have done awesome work updating information on the various networks behind O’Keefe and Pelican. Pelican appears to have strong ties to the Reason Foundation, and Pelican founder Kevin Kane and Breitbart’s relationship deserves closer examination, among other things.

Let me know if you want to get deep into the Louisiana muck.

3 thoughts on “Landrieu phone squad: the Boustany connection”

  1. 24 year old Robert Flanagan, son of the acting US Attorney for Western LA, William Flanagan (Senator Vitter Held Up Acting U.S. Attorney Flanagan’s Replacement) will more than likely get a plea deal and turn on The other three, too bad.

  2. I’ve followed the sordid track of LCS, in particular their for-profit prison business in Louisiana and Texas. When he died, candidate LeBlanc was getting a close look from the FBI for his dealings with the Sheriff of Bexar County, Texas, who eventually pled guilty to corruption offenses.

    The Reason Institute gets funding from the industry and produces nonsense and industry spin purporting to be “research.”

    The investigation of Governor Edwin Edwards (now doing 10 years in the federal pen) began with indicted members of a Texas conspiracy, the notorious for-profit building Graham brothers, and Houston Mayor Fred Hofheintz going to him. Edwards took a six-figure bribe to assure that a for-profit prison was built in Jena, Louisiana. He was eventually convicted for taking another six-figure bribe from Eddie di Bartolo, the SF 49’s owner, who wanted a riverboat casino license. The prosecution feared that Grahams were too dirty to be seen as reliable witnesses by a jury.

    Edwards was a Democrat, elected when he ran against Republican nominee David Duke of the White Citizens Councils. Campaign bumper stickers read, “Vote for the crook. It’s important!” and “Vote for the lizard, not for the wizard.”

    If you’re looking at funding for right wing “research” check out not only Reason, where David Koch is on the board, but the chain of reactionary echo chambers, not only including Mackinac but the Heartland Institute, the Rio Grande Institute, Heritage, etc. The money often comes through David and Charles Koch’s (pronounced “coke”) Industries, and is usually dispensed by the Claude Lambe, the Amelia Earhart, Flint Hills and the Charles G. Koch Foundations.

    They are also hooked up with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) that promotes right wing, anti-tax, anti-regulation, privatization legislation around the country through stooges, mostly very conservative Republicans in state legislatures. They have also been crucial to the formation of astroturf organizations such as Americans for Prosperity and the Club for Growth.

  3. @Skeptic

    Fascinating stuff. I noticed there was a hunger strike at an LCS prison in August over immigrant detainee abuses. I wonder if Cheney and LeBlanc knew each other from the prison business?
    You should consider using LittleSis to help you keep track of the networks as you do this kind of research — exactly what it’s built for.

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