What part do you feel Louisiana should play in enforcing immigration laws?
Determining the legal status of its citizens is a basic function of a State and is integral to protecting its political and governmental systems. Louisiana, more than any other State, is a true melting pot of nations and cultures. Immigrants are the foundation of the rich heritage of our State and future immigrants will be vital to the State's economic and cultural growth. However, the illegal entry of immigrants into our country and our State is a matter of grave concern. The unbridled entry of illegal immigration has been ignored for far too long and must be addressed, but it must be addressed in a manner which is fair and humane. It must also be addressed in a manner that welcomes the legal immigrant and at the same time protects the rights and property of the current citizen. Louisiana has for too long depended upon the Federal Government to tackle tough legal issues such as corruption and poverty. It is time for Louisiana to pick up the burden in many of the areas and I believe that the enforcement of immigration is one such vital area.
Is it proper for a candidate for this office to demand campaign contributions from people wanting him to change policy?
I assume that this question is directed to the email which has been pushed into the media by my opponents. I have addressed this issue on several occasions and I think that there are several important facts which have been left out of the equation. My answer to questions regarding this issue follows.
I do not currently hold any political office. I am a private attorney and former Congressional Chief of Staff, and I was approached, on numerous occasions, by an executive who asked me to lobby on his industry's behalf concerning proposed Medicaid and Medicare rate cuts. I responded to the request in an email which was written shortly after midnight. In the response I pointed out that I was "extremely busy" working on my campaign for Louisiana Attorney General and that I did not have free time to work on the issues that they requested. The email also pointed out that I had asked the industry executives for support for this campaign, but that despite promises of help, one of the executives had "hemmed and hawed" for several months.
The medical industry in question wanted me to take my time and use my connections, as a private attorney, to work on an issue that benefited them. My response, while admittedly direct, conveyed my point. Despite the attempts to label this as "dirty politics" or "extortion" the fact remains that there was absolutely nothing wrong, unethical, or illegal about the email I sent.
I am not a public official; I have no duty or obligation to help the executives. The email contained no illegal or unethical quid pro quo. I was not offering my services as a public servant for a payment. I was offering to help the executives with something important to their industry and in exchange I asked the executives to help with something important to me. Rather than being evidence of some back room deal, this email reflects the nature of the legal business; all any attorney has to trade is his time and his ability to persuade others to see his client's point of view.
There are no legal impediments to my being asked to lobby on behalf of any industry. I am a private attorney for whom there is no prohibition against my acting, as requested, on behalf of a particular client. There is no abuse of the public trust. I currently have no public authority or power to trade.
Even more importantly, under Federal Law, I am specifically allowed to lobby Congress after leaving my position as Chief of Staff. I am allowed to lobby Senators, Representatives, Committee members, Chiefs of Staff, employees, staffers and many of the other thousands of government employees with whom I worked with while in Washington. The only restriction the applicable statute places on my ability to lobby is that I cannot lobby my former congressional boss or my former boss's staff for one year.
There are no facts to support that I was offering to do anything other than that which I am specifically allowed to do under the law. One of the two recipients of the email had conceived the idea of me, as a private attorney, lobbying for the group. Lobbying is in an integral and legal aspect of our political system and my response was well within the applicable legal and ethical rules. Those opposed to my candidacy are manufacturing charges when none exist.
Would you support the Attorney General's office stepping in to take over the investigation of the so-called Jena 6?
Under Louisiana law the prosecution of criminal offenses is first and foremost in the hands of the local District Attorneys and the Attorney General cannot simply "take over" a case. In the Jena 6 case, with which I am not personally involved and of which my knowledge comes primarily from the news media, I have not seen any facts that would allow, under Louisiana law, the Attorney General to "take over" the case. However, as Attorney General it is my intention to work with the local District Attorneys and not against them as the current Attorney General has done. By working with the local District Attorneys a working relationship can be built that will allow for interaction and communication between the offices and hopefully, such interaction and communication will create an atmosphere that will provide a District Attorney, who finds himself embroiled in a politically volatile case, the resources and help needed to keep a case like the Jena 6 situation from going down the unfortunate path that it has taken. All persons have a right to fair and equal treatment under the law and as Attorney General of the State of Louisiana I will not stand for anything less.
Do you feel that we need more laws on the books to help fight crime or do we need better enforcement of the laws we currently have?
We currently have sufficient criminal statutes in place to address the issues facing our state in terms of traditional crimes - burglary, theft, murder, etc. However, it is a priority for the legislature to adopt laws tightening the ethical standards of our public officials and government employees. Current loopholes, which allow politicians and their family members to trade off of their positions of power entrusted to them by the voters, must be plugged and Louisiana needs to be first in ethical reform.