Friday, October 4, 2013

Another Day, Another Opportunity To Talk About Mike Yenni’s BFF, Greg Buisson

The “political consultant” for many of Jefferson Parish’s elected officials, Greg Buisson, made the news again albeit for something I’m sure he would have preferred to keep quiet.

WWL-TV and The Advocate reported that State Rep. and Buisson client Helena Moreno (D-New Orleans) has given Buisson’s son a full-ride scholarship to Tulane University for the past two years.

In addition to Moreno, Buisson, the man who wanted to ban the public from accessing public records and called me “disruptive”,  is also the political consultant for Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni; 5 members of the Jefferson Parish Council including Ben Zahn (I wonder if Buisson got a WalMart Gift Card in his Christmas stocking from Zahn); former JP Councilman and current Assessor Tom Capella; Kenner Police Chief Steve Caraway; Kenner Councilwoman Maria DeFranchesch; St. Tammany Parish Coroner Peter Galvan; and a host of former elected officials including Aaron Broussard, Ed Muniz, and Lawrence Chehardy. Buisson also was part of the pro-CCC toll extension crowd.

State Legislators can award one full scholarship to Tulane annually each while the Mayor of New Orleans is granted five scholarships to dole out. The four-year scholarship is valued at $174,000.

In the article, Moreno was indignant about her granting a scholarship to the son of her political consultant.

“Moreno defends the decision, saying that Collin Buisson is outstanding in his own right: He had a 4.1 grade point average at Brother Martin and was given the school’s Lambert Award for most outstanding student. He was also editor of the yearbook, she said.

While Moreno said it occurred to her that she might be accused of cronyism, she said it wouldn’t have been fair to deny Buisson a scholarship on that basis.

“I thought about that, but I also knew this particular student’s records could stand on its own,” Moreno said. “Because he is that impressive. I thought, ‘Because I know his father should I disqualify him?’ I didn’t think that was fair to him.”

Now, to be fair, Moreno isn’t the only Legislator who knew or had some type of relationship with the parent of a scholarship recipient. The article points out that many Legislators received campaign contributions from those associated with scholarship recipients.

Giving a Legislator a $2,500 campaign contribution in return for little Johnny receiving a $174,000 scholarship sounds like a good deal right? 

Unlike many in the Legislature, State Rep. Pat Connick (R-Marrero) uses the non-profit group, Jefferson Dollars For Scholars to identify scholarship candidates. He recently returned a campaign contribution from the father of a scholarship recipient with a note attached stating that Connick didn’t want anyone to think the contribution could be connected to the scholarship.

In an interview, Connick said: “It’s a privilege given to me to be able to award a scholarship. But the key to make it successful is I don’t want anything in return for giving that scholarship.”

Obviously, since Buisson supported the CCC toll extension and Connick was outspoken in his opposition to it, Moreno and Connick don’t share the same ideas about political consultants.

Thankfully for the people of Marrero, Moreno and Connick don’t share the same ideas regarding transparency either.