David Vitter has his haters. While the man from Metaire has not been shy about tossing a few cowpies at his rivals, the nastiest return fire is coming from political action committees. These PACs are no run of the mill Citizens United. No, two groups have been formed specifically to push an “anyone but Vitter” agenda and they are dropping millions on ads.
The Louisiana Water Coalition found themselves in hot water in September. Their first negative campaign spot caused controversy after alleging that Vitter failed to fire a campaign staffer following a domestic violence incident. The new spot simply implies that Vitter might have broken the law. That point is driven home by an onscreen narrator who asks Vitter to “answer the question” and contends that the good people of Louisiana should not have a governor with “so many dark secrets.”
The spot is the product of the Louisiana Water Coalition. The group is the brainchild of Baton Rouge law firm Talbot, Carmouche & Marcello, an oil and gas adversary. As of October 1, the company is the only donor to the LWC’s 1.1 million dollar budget. The firm spent 500,000 dollars of its own money as well as another 600,000 dollars in loans to fund the PAC.
The group’s only purpose is to oppose Vitter’s election to the mansion in Baton Rouge. However, the partners are no stranger to this type of play. They are also listed as the primary donors to Citizens for Clean Water and Land, a PAC created to influence judicial races in 2012.
And, then there is the Gumbo PAC’s ad from last week. The spot plays off the “Diaper Dave” allegations that surfaced during one of Vitter’s multiple prostitution scandals. On a political level, the group tries to compare the Senator to Bobby Jindal, labeling them both as career politicians. However, it is the sound of crying baby and the concluding image of an infant in diapers that make the largest impact.
Gumbo PAC describes itself as “a non-partisan clearinghouse of information focused on educating Louisiana voters about U.S. Senator David Vitter's disgraceful public record” on their website. (NOTE: The group is not the same as the Morial family’s Gumbo Coalition).
Rather, the group was only created in May 2015 with the intent of opposing the Silent Senator. Gumbo is headed by Democratic political operative Trey Ourso. Ourso's firm worked on Charlie Melanin’s failed 2010 bid to unseat Vitter.