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 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.