This is a fact: Mary Landrieu, the Democratic senator from Louisiana, doesn’t live in that state, hasn’t for years, and nobody believes she does.
She and her husband, who, unlike the Senator, doesn’t even pretend to live in the Bayou State, live in what the Washington Post calls “a stately, $2.5 million brick manse she and her husband built on Capitol Hill.” The problem, or what should be a problem, is that Louisiana, by law, requires its U.S. Senators to really and truly live there. Louisiana’s Election Code states that a U.S. senator must be “an inhabitant of Louisiana when elected,” and Landrieu is hoping to be elected, which in her case means re-elected in November.
They are clever in Louisiana, so Landrieu, wink-wink-nudge-nudge, claims that she resides in the New Orleans neighborhood of Broadmoor in the home where her parents, Moon (yes, Moon) and Verna live. The Post explains that Verna Landrieu jointly owns the house with Nineland Partnership, a limited liability corporation the family set up for the estate planning purposes. Senator Landrieu and her eight siblings, who all grew up in the house, have equal stakes in the partnership.
She does not, in fact, live there. The other families ion the neighborhood all admit that they have never seen her. Yet when she signed papers, under oath, establishing that she was running again for U.S. Senator, though Senator Landrieu’s statement of candidacy filed with the Federal Election Commission listed her Capitol Hill home as her address, she listed her parents home as her residence to qualify for the ballot in Louisiana last week.
That was a lie and a criminal one, because it was under oath. Lie or not, she does not qualify to run for the Senate under the state’s law. It says, you will note, that she must “inhabit” the state, not merely have a legal address in the state. The law was written that way for a purpose.
Landrieu is still lying. “I have lived at my home on Prieur Street most of my life and I live there now, when not fulfilling my duties in Washington or serving constituents across the state,” Landrieu said in a statement. Really! Without your husband? Without ever sleeping there? What exactly does living there mean, in this context?
Obviously what it means is “This is Louisiana, home of the Big Easy, and big shots getting away with breaking the law is a tradition: Back off!”
Robert Mann, a professor of political communications at Louisiana State University, got the memo. He told the Post that the Landrieu family name is so ingrained in Louisiana politics that “no one will think that Mary is not a Louisianan.” “Saying Mary Landrieu is not really a resident of New Orleans, doesn’t really live in New Orleans — I don’t think will go very far,” he said. “Nobody but the most partisan Republican will grab that flag and run with it.”
All of which avoids answering the question of whether she is breaking the law, and lying under oath. She is. “Nobody cares” and “Accusing her of breaking a alw she is breaking won’t fly down here,” is not an answer. Great political science department they have at LSU! The answers are yes and yes.
This has to be taken seriously, even if Louisiana Democrats want to characterize it as just more “right wing partisan warfare.” She is a U.S. Senator. If Louisiana want slimy, lying, smug law-breakers to represent them in-state, that’s their self-corrupting choice, but U.S. Senators represent the nation. U.S. Senators cannot be permitted to flagrantly, openly violate the law like this because, well, come on! She’s a U.S. Senator! They get to break laws!*
No they don’t…not if the government is to have any integrity at all. U.S. Senators have to obey laws, and if they don’t, they should resign or be thrown out of office. A Senator who ignores laws when it’s inconvenient signals that laws are for the poor, the powerless and the chumps with ethics, and its all who you know. Such a message is poison to the nation and the culture.
Republican opponent Rob Maness has asked Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler—a Republican, so watch the question of whether Landrieu should be permitted to run when she is no longer a Louisianan be spun as just partisan warfare—to investigate; now it looks like he may be blocked because the request didn’t happen on time. I would suggest, then, prosecuting her for lying on an official document, and declaring her application void. I know nothing about Maness; maybe he’s a nut. It doesn’t matter: a U.S. Senator must be required to obey laws, and not be allowed to blatantly lie, under oath and to the public. This isn’t a technicality, or a question of definitions. This is a U.S. Senator corrupting the process.
* Landrieu is not the only U.S. Senator with unseemly residential status, but the others that I’m aware of, like Kansas Senator Pat Roberts (R), are taking advantage of lenient state laws, not breaking them and lying about it.