Our View: Jindal exempt from his own ethics agenda

Published 7:48 am Sunday, August 26, 2012

Gov. Bobby Jindal has positioned himself as a champion of state ethics, a reform-minded governor whose personal mission is to clean up the shady practices that are all too common among Louisiana politicos.

Apparently, the governor neglected to target himself or any of his political cronies.

Recently, the country-trotting governor hired former aide Tim Barfield as the state’s revenue secretary. Although hardly eye-catching on the surface, fueling the hypocrisy is the fact Barfield is being hired at double the normal pay, and in order to make it pass legal muster the governor’s brain trust was forced to create a new position. The addition of executive counsel to his job description allows him to receive two salaries at once.

The administration also had to jump through additional loopholes since the legislature had already approved a budget paying Barfield’s predecessor, Cynthia bridges, $124,000 a year.

Barfield’s annual salary comes in at a tidy $250,000, making him a top-tier cabinet secretary.

This is just the type of behavior Jindal has railed against in the past from a soapbox that is becoming increasingly pious and hypocritical. Manipulating the legal and legislative system to suit his needs paints Jindal not as a reformist, but rather as a conformist of the past, one who is not above occasionally dipping his hand into the abyssal candy jar that is Louisiana politics.

Jindal’s actions, not only the appointment of Barfield but circumventing the system to his benefit, smacks of political cronyism, the type of behavior this state can no longer afford. Louisiana already has a reputation as an apocalyptic political wasteland and this perpetuates a myth that is viewed as reality by the rest of the nation.

Additionally, Jindal’s remittance of a political debt comes at a time when he continues to slash the budget, with health care and education, especially higher education, getting sliced and diced in the carnage.

Jindal’s insolence is evident as he makes pernicious decisions that are sending thousands of Louisiana citizens to the unemployment line, risking the lives of many others through reduced healthcare, while at the same time showing favoritism to a political playmate.

But spending taxpayer dollars, which appear to be in short supply if one is to believe the governor, is intolerable, and voters must demand that decision be rescinded.

Aren’t the lives our senior citizens, the education of our young and the future welfare of our state, more critical than taking care of an old friend?

Perhaps when Jindal eventually leaves the campaign trail and returns to Louisiana he’ll have to answer for his actions.