People are plain mad at the political class these days, after all who isn’t mad after being snookered by self-serving double-dealing politicians such as Chris Dodd, Max Baucus, David Vitter or Dick Shelby all of whom recommend people for important government positions such as US Attorney. With the election of Barack Obama in 2008 we found out here in Mississippi that the duty of recommending people for such jobs then falls to the House members when both senators are in the party out of power.
Back in the year 2000 the kingmaker in Louisiana was Billy Tauzin, at least for the southern part of the state. For now, lets circle that fact as Slabbed explores why a succession of US Attorneys failed to clean up the systemic corruption in New Orleans for years ending with the now disgraced Eddie Jordan. Jim Letten on the other hand has enjoyed far more success, so much so that the Republican Letten has stayed on to serve the Democrat Obama due to the popular outcry in favor of keeping him on. People everywhere yearn for clean and above-board government and Jim Letten has delivered it. But as a reader reminded us, it was almost business as usual back in the day. A Baton Rouge Advocate story from February 3, 2002 as memorialized by the National Organization for Women fills in the gap:
Acknowledging there is a previously undisclosed allegation of abuse, a Louisiana Republican congressman said Saturday the FBI has completed an expanded investigation of the U.S. Attorney-designee of Fred Heebe of New Orleans and cleared Heebe of all allegations that he abused three women.
“It’s a clean slate,” said U.S. Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-Chackbay. In addition to re-investigating the allegations made by an ex-wife and a former girlfriend of Heebe’s, the FBI “investigated this so-called third woman and has filed a report back to the White House,” Tauzin said.
Heebe’s attorney, Peter Butler Sr. of New Orleans, said he has no knowledge of a third accuser. Butler said, “It wouldn’t be a surprise if Micki Easterling told another woman to testify … Mrs. Easterling might have them coming out of the woodwork.” The reference is to the mother of Heebe’s former wife, Nanci Easterling, whom he was briefly married to in 1984. The Heebe camp has accused Micki Easterling of indirect connections to a convicted felon whose case could be handled by the new U.S. Attorney in New Orleans.
Tauzin was asked about the number of accusers after Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women, told reporters that she believes there is a third accuser.
Tauzin urged President Bush to restart the paperwork process that is required to move Heebe’s stalled nomination through the Senate.
How quickly we forget that Fred Heebe of River Birch infamy was Baby Bushie’s choice to be the US Attorney! One can only imagine, given what we know now about Heebe and his penchant for double-dealing, how many crooks would be walking free today if he had made it through the Senate as we continue:
Heebe and his attorney have said the abuse charges are “lies”, and Heebe has said he will not abandon his pursuit of the federal prosecutor’s job. They characterize one accuser as a disgruntled ex-wife who is still bitter after a divorce proceeding.At a New Orleans press conference last week, Heebe’s ex-wife, Nanci Easterling, and a former girlfriend, Gina Herbert, described Heebe as an alcoholic and accused him of mental and physical abuse. Easterling and Herbert also have made the charges in letters to Breaux and U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La.Gov.
Mike Foster is Heebe’s chief sponsor. He has called Heebe “an honest man,” and has said that Heebe is the victim of a slander campaign run by supporters of other candidates for the job. At Foster’s urging, a “patronage committee” of Louisiana Republicans put Heebe’s name at the top of a four-man list of candidates sent to the president. Bush announced in November that Heebe was his choice. However, the White House has not sent the Senate Judiciary Committee the FBI background material required to move the nomination through the Senate. Breaux said that he will not take a position on Heebe’s nomination without a formal submission of the paperwork. “From my perspective, we do not have a nominee. I am not going to get into this until we have a nominee,” he said.Landrieu previously has said that she probably would be guided by the FBI’s findings. On Saturday, Landrieu said that she has read the letters from Easterling and Herbert. “They are very troublesome… It is pretty serious,” she said. “…I will take this under very serious consideration, and that is what the FBI background check is all about.”
Tauzin said that, if the abuse charges were accurate, “neither I, nor the governor, nor any of this group (the GOP patronage committee) would be supporting this candidate.”
“Everytime, they (the FBI) conduct an investigation, there is further evidence that there’s a conspiracy of slander,” Tauzin said. “There may be some obstruction of justice going on. If that’s true, maybe the FBI ought to look at that.”
I’ll be honest and say I used to admire Mike Foster from afar here in Mississippi. Our own governor around that general time, Kirk Fordice, was a hypocrite and rounder while Mike Foster seemed to be none of those things. At least I used to think that way until I discovered Foster’s affinity for the Coulon family as we find out here, here and here. (Coulon and that Superdome Commission seem to pop up a lot) Lest I digress.
So here we have Billy Tauzin and the entire state GOP leadership pumping Fred Heebe for the US Attorney slot and of course we all know now that never happened. The rumors of spousal and alcohol abuse were too numerous for Heebe to overcome and certainly Billy Tauzin knew what everyone else did that there was more than a kernel of truth to the allegations despite what he said publically. Heebe, through his personal failings could be controlled, and that is exactly what the powers that be wanted.
This brings me to Billy Tauzin and the Congressman of the Slabbed, Gene Taylor. Gene is a New Orleans guy made good that was seduced by the charm of tiny Bay St Louis where he made a life for himself and his family. Gene wins election over here by staggering margins and the reason is simple, he represents the people not the special interests. Slabbed exists in large part to compliment what Gene is trying to do for every one of us on the Gulf Coast by taking on the insurance companies and special interests that rape us and that would drain our treasury dry. He mentions Billy Tauzin at virtually every one of his town hall meetings and the reasons is simple. Billy, on his way through the revolving door to work at Big PhRMA, slipped in to the medicare prescription drug legislation a provision that Medicare could not shop for the best prices on drugs as the Sunlight Foundation explains:
Central to this effort was PhRMA president, CEO and top lobbyist Billy Tauzin, a longtime Democratic member of Congress who switched party affiliations after Republicans gained control of Congress in 1994. By switching parties Tauzin was able to maintain his influence and even rose to be Chairman of the House Committee on Energy & Commerce. Tauzin became the poster child of Washington’s mercenary culture. He crafted a bill to provide prescription drug access to Medicare recipients, one that provided major concessions to the pharmaceutical industry. Medicare would not be able to negotiate for lower prescription drug costs and reimportation of drugs from first world countries would not be allowed. A few months after the bill passed, Tauzin announced that he was retiring from Congress and would be taking a job helming PhRMA for a salary of $2 million.
So I felt little remorse on seeing the recent news that Billy boy was retiring from his million dollar job as a whore for big pharma. Meantime every taxpayer in this country is stuck with his dirty self serving deal; paying more for drugs for our seniors than we should while Billy laughs all the way to the bank.
If there is a lesson in this for the voters it should be that when charlatans like David Vitter run commercials running down welfare cheats they should heed the words I wrote on anther forum:
….while politicians stir up and divide the populace making scapegoats of immigrants or demonizing welfare cheats, it is only to distract the people from their double-dealing and outright thievery.
Once again I close this post with my favorite quote from Ambrose Bierce:
There is nothing new under the sun but there are lots of old things we don’t know.
And this from famed lawyer Louis Nizer:
When a man points a finger at someone else, he should remember that four of his fingers are pointing at himself.
Oh yeah, Fred Heebe, welcome to Slabbed.