Scanlan stockpiling Parish Council votes for A Better Ascension’s agenda?

John Scanlan [file photo]

With two runoffs for Ascension Parish governmental offices (Parish President and the District 7 Council seat) scheduled for a November 16, a new money man has emerged to throw his check book around.  John Scanlan, former head of EATEL and Director of the “non-profit” corporation with a purely political agenda, A Better Ascension, contributed more cash than any other private individual to those candidates for local office; $6,000 in six maximum contributions to Tier 2 candidates for Parish Council.

Scanlan’s name does not appear on any of the reports filed by four candidates for parish president though another max amount, $2,500 was contributed to Brandon Trosclair’s campaign for House of Representatives District 88.  That makes perfect sense given they were, according to ABA’s attorney, the two individuals most responsible for crafting the “non-profit’s” substitute Home Rule Charter for Ascension which was rejected by the Parish Council on July 19, 2018.

July 19, 2018

ABA must turn five votes to put its parish manager system on the ballot.  Scanlan and a cadre of supporters have opened up the check book, targeting six council seats on the way to the magic number; it takes an eight-vote super majority to place any charter amendment on the ballot unless 25,000+ Ascension voters affix their signatures to a petition to do so.  That monumental task is beyond the reach of any group without an awful lot of cash on hand and hundreds of committed volunteers.

Convincing eight members of the council, by no means an easy task, is exponentially more doable.

Of those six recipients of Scanlan’s largesse, four will be sworn into office in January, including Corey Orgeron who unseated two-term incumbent, Daniel “Doc” Satterlee in District 4.  Satterlee was ABA’s most vocal council critic.  Three Scanlan-funded incumbents (Dempsey Lambert squeaked out a 39-vote victory; John Cagnolatti won by 38 percentage points; Teri Casso was unopposed) won reelection while another (Aaron Lawler) faces a November 16 runoff.

Only Bill Dawson, former Council Chairman and ABA’s point man, failed in a reelection bid.  Winning with a 783-vote margin in 2015, Dawson came up 44 votes short as Joel Robert won the District 2 seat.  Dawson, Lawler and Casso formed ABA’s three-vote minority last year.

Loar (foreground) with his Steering Committee (Dawson and Scanlan included).

The linkages can be traced back, whether cause or coincidence, to the third place finisher in 2015’s Parish President’s election.  Dawson joined Scanlan, and 23 others, on the Campaign Steering Committee of Chris Loar whose bid for Ascension’s parish presidency failed to make the November 21, 2015 runoff.  After that, Scanlan turned his attention to ridding the parish of its Chief Executive office in favor of a parish manager system of governance.

Rumor had it (outsiders will never know since ABA never would divulge its contributions) that self-proclaimed “kingmaker” Lane Grigsby and his pal, gubernatorial candidate Eddie Rispone were funding A Better Ascension.  Grigsby maxed out two Council candidates (Corey Orgeron and Aaron Lawler) while Rispone and his family ponied up three max amounts to Bill Dawson.

Only one entity, Dugas & Mire, LLC gave to more council campaigns; $500 apiece to Oliver Joseph (District 1 incumbent who lost), Dawson, Travis Turner (unopposed in District 3), Dempsey Lambert, Lawler, Todd Lambert (District 9 incumbent who lost), Cagnolatti, and Benny Johnson (District 11 incumbent who lost).  The law firm’s Malcolm Dugas has been bond counsel for Ascension Parish nearly two decades.  He hasn’t retained that position by being on the wrong side of council elections.

Backing four failed candidates (out of seven) with another in a runoff, Dugas & Mire’s retention of the lucrative gig could come down to the parish president’s race.  That lone runoff candidate, Aaron Lawler was pitching a different bond counsel, Skip Phillips as Dugas’ replacement in 2017.   In 2018 Phillips was hired to advise ABA’s Home Rule Charter Revision Committee at Lawler’s urging…

Sometimes we miss the playful banter with Councilman Lawler.

Dugas & Mire invested $1,250 in Murphy Painter for President.