According to a report filed yesterday, Dec. 4th, 2018, Kyle Ardoin, the Louisiana Republican candidate running for Secretary of State, received a maximum, $5,000 campaign contribution from Courtney Leiendecker of St. Louis, Missouri. She is the wife of Scott Leiendecker, the founder and CEO of Knowink, a company that sells and produces a line of voting software technology.
The company does not currently do business in Louisiana, and the technology they sell does not involve voting machines; their signature product, the Poll Pad, is essentially a customized Apple iPad that facilitates and speeds up the voter “check-in” process.
Neither Scott nor Courtney Leiendecker have ever donated before to a candidate in Louisiana, including Ardoin’s Democratic opponent. The Bayou Brief exchanged emails with Scott Leiendecker, who acknowledged the donation but avoided answering questions about how, when, or why the contribution was solicited.
Ardoin is currently serving as interim Secretary of State after Sec. Tom Schedler resigned in May. Schedler had been accused of sexually harassing his executive assistant for more than a decade; the case was settled in October for $167,000, with taxpayers footing $149,075 of the bill. Ardoin, as Schedler’s first deputy, assumed the interim position, pursuant to state law. Although he vowed he would not be a candidate for office, Ardoin waited until the final minutes of the qualification deadline to declare his candidacy, throwing an already-crowded field into more uncertainty.
On the campaign trail, Ardoin took credit for essentially every major decision and accomplishment during Schedler’s time in office, except for one in which he appeared to play a significant role: A controversial bid process involving the purchase of 10,000 new voting machines. After the company Dominion won the contract, which was originally valued at $65 million but quickly ballooned to more than $90 million, one of the runner-up companies complained, claiming the process had been rigged to effectively guarantee Dominion would be the only company qualified for the work. Ardoin was in charge of the bid selection committee, but he later claimed Schedler had made the last-minute changes to the specifications favoring Dominion.
After Louisiana’s Chief Procurement Officer determined there were problems with the process, the state canceled the contract with Dominion, a decision Ardoin unconvincingly attributed to partisan politics.
Ardoin recently said he had no “immediate timeframe” to restart the process, noting the possibility of litigation by Dominion.
“We did not and would not participate in a future contract / RFP regarding voting machines, because we do not produce or support voting equipment,” Leiendecker wrote The Bayou Brief. “We are a software company.”
Knowinc (through its founder’s wife) is not the only voting software and technology company that has contributed to Ardoin.
GCR, a company founded by New Orleans-based political consultant Greg Rigamer, donated a maximum of $5,000 to Ardoin during the general election and another $5,000 during the run-off.
Rigamer sold GCR in December of 2011 to Chestnut Hill Partners, only two months after he was embroiled in a government corruption scandal in Pennsylvania. He was granted immunity in exchange for his testimony.
“(Rigamer) said that in 2005 he retroactively falsified an invoice for a $100,000 payment from the House of Representatives to remove a reference to illegal campaign work,” the Associated Press reported at the time. “House clerks had already processed the original invoice and sent GCR the check by the time Rigamer submitted the revised invoice, which he said he did at the direction of caucus officials.”
Still, Rigamer had maintained an active role in the company he founded until as late as 2015, and the Jindal years were good for GCR.
The company even managed to score a $2 million contract with none other than the Louisiana Secretary of State.
“I have never approached or solicited (Louisiana) to do business with (Velocity Reports) or Poll Pad,” Leiendecker claimed, notably.
The Bayou Brief attempted to contact Ardoin through his campaign, but at the time of publication, it has yet to hear a response.