The Spy Who Loved Bobby?

Publisher’s Note: This story was written in collaboration with “News With a Twist” at WGNO, the New Orleans-area affiliate of ABC.  [dropcap]T[/dropcap]he pretty redhead with the Russian accent said she had something in common with the National Rifle Association members who’d just heard former Louisiana Gov. Jindal speak at their annual convention in 2014. And what she said has stuck with Jindal’s chief of staff at the time, Timmy Teepell, ever since.   [aesop_image img=”” panorama=”off” align=”center” lightbox=”on” caption=”Timmy Teepell ” captionposition=”center” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”] Teepell says he was with Jindal at that NRA convention in Indianapolis, when Maria Butina — now accused of being a Russian spy– asked to have her picture taken with the governor. In what seemed like small talk at the time, Teepell recalls Butina saying that she was part of a gun rights group — in Russia. “That’s weird,” Teepell recalls thinking, “I didn’t know communists were allowed to have guns!” [aesop_image img=”” panorama=”off” credit=”Facebook” align=”center” lightbox=”on” caption=”Maria Butina” captionposition=”center” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”] [dropcap]R[/dropcap]eached in Missouri, where Teepell is assisting the election campaign of GOP Senate candidate Josh Hawley, Teepell said he and Jindal talked about the photo yesterday after it surfaced on social media along with several other photos of Butina posing with prominent Republican politicians. Teepell says he and his former boss are both dumbfounded by the revelation this week that Butina was allegedly part of a Russian effort to influence American politics.  She was arrested by the U.S. Justice Department Sunday and denied bail today (July 18). According to Teepell, Jindal doesn’t remember meeting Butina at all. “She was (just) one of the dozens of people who came up to get her picture taken with him after the speech,” says Teepell, looking back with amazement on the moment when Butina sidled up to the governor. And that’s how something as seemingly innocuous as a request from a fan led to Jindal’s smiling picture posted on the Instagram account of an alleged Russian spy. “Wow,” says Teepell, “that’s odd!”
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Lamar White, Jr.
Lamar writes about the people, the politics, and the magic of Louisiana. He is the founder and publisher of the Bayou Brief and a contributing writer for the Daily Beast. Lamar is best known for his investigative reporting on public corruption, racism, and civil rights. He has appeared as a guest on CNN, MSNBC, and the BBC, and he's been the subject of profiles in The Washington Post, The Advocate, and Huffington Post. Before launching the Bayou Brief, he published CenLamar, a popular blog that initially covered the drama of City Hall in his hometown of Alexandria. Lamar is a graduate of Rice University in Houston and the Dedman School of Law at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Today he lives in New Orleans and is currently writing a book about the life of reputed New Orleans Mafia boss Carlos Marcello. Support Lamar's work on Patreon.