Former U.S. Sen. David Vitter registers as a lobbyist for Louisiana GOP mega-donor

Senator David Vitter (R-LA) leaves the Senate floor on Capitol Hill in Washington May 7, 2015. The U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to pass a bill giving Congress the right to review, and potentially reject, an international nuclear agreement with Iran. REUTERS/Gary Cameron - RTX1C06F

Earlier today, former two-term U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R- LA) registered with the state of Louisiana as an executive and legislative lobbyist for Cajun Industries LLC, a construction company founded and largely controlled by Lane Grigsby, a prominent conservative activist and one of a handful of mega-donors to Republican candidates and conservative causes. (A few years ago, Grisby sold much of his ownership stake to his son and son-in-law, though he is still serves as the company’s chairman).

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Since 2006, Grigsby’s company and its affiliates have received approximately $4.2 million in state tax incentives, including a $2.4 million incentive just last year under the state’s Industrial Tax Exemption Program (ITEP); in addition, he has also received $443,500 through the state’s Quality Jobs Initiative, according to research conducted by the non-profit organization Together Louisiana. Click to zoom in:

The ITEP incentives have recently become the subject of intense scrutiny. Many contend that ITEP is a wasteful and bloated program that rarely demonstrates a return on investment and predominately benefits wealthy corporations. Critics argue this money would better be used elsewhere, particularly in light of the state’s impending budget deficit, estimated to be anywhere between $400M to $994M this year.

In recent years, Cajun Industries has taken in annual revenues between $317M and $476M, making it one of the most successful and profitable companies in the state of Louisiana, and its chairman and founder, Lane Grigsby, has invested his own personal fortune in promoting conservative politics.

Just recently, Grigsby paid for the controversial Fox News personality Laura Ingraham to be the keynote speaker at the annual luncheon of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI), even providing his private plane to ferry Ingraham to Baton Rouge. According to well-placed sources, Grigsby plays an outsized role at LABI and is known to interview legislators in order to gauge their willingness to pledge broad opposition to any and all tax proposals.

“He is the Grover Norquist of Louisiana, as if we needed another Grover Norquist,” one source opined on the condition of anonymity.

Grigsby also spent nearly a half a million dollars in 2011 to support a roster of his preferred candidates for the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and is known to spend thousands to sponsor polling.

Since 1985, Grigsby has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to several political candidates, almost all of whom are Republicans, including massive donations to the campaigns of David Vitter, his newest employee, and the Republican National Committee.

 

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Lamar White, Jr.
Lamar White, Jr. is an award-winning writer and the publisher and founder of the Bayou Brief, Louisiana’s only statewide news and culture publication. Born and raised on the banks of the Red River in Alexandria, he is a proud product of the Louisiana public education system and a graduate of Rice University in Houston and SMU’s Dedman School of Law in Dallas. Lamar has been writing about politics and public policy in Louisiana for twenty years, beginning as a weekly youth columnist for his hometown paper, the Town Talk. After earning his undergraduate degree in English and Religious Studies, Lamar moved back to Alexandria, where he launched a popular blogsite, CenLamar, and worked for five years as the Special Assistant to the Mayor. He exposed significant problems with Louisiana’s school voucher program, which resulted in a series of other investigations and ultimately in the removal of several schools from the program. He was the last person to argue online with Andrew Breitbart. He investigated and then broke the report that U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise had once attended a white supremacist conference. He was the first to share a photograph of Bobby Jindal’s portrait in the state Capitol. He exposed U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy’s incomplete timesheets while the then-representative moonlighted as a physician. He earned headlines in Texas after the gubernatorial campaign of Greg Abbott falsely claimed he had been exploited as a “campaign prop” by Abbott’s opponent, Wendy Davis, and after exposing U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign for relying on online “bot farms” to counter Beto O’Rourke, and he earned headlines in Mississippi after publishing videos of U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith making bizarre comments about public hangings and voter suppression tactics which were both perceived as racist. Lamar was the recipient of the 2011 Ashley Morris Award, given to the writer who best exemplifies the spirit of New Orleans, and in 2019, he was honored as one of Gambit’s Top 40 Under 40 and as the year’s Outstanding Millennial in Journalism at the annual Millennial Awards. He has been the subject of profiles in the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, Above the Law, and the Advocate and has appeared multiple times as a guest on CNN and MSNBC. Lamar currently lives in New Orleans with his two golden retrievers, Lucy Ana and Ruby Dog.