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Commentary: Our “activist” attorney general

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Louisiana voters elected Jeff Landry attorney general last year, but he seems to think he won the governor's race. Landry has spent his first year as AG be- having as though he's running the state with — or against — Gov. John Bel Edwards.

  Landry, a tea party Republican, has a penchant for grandstanding, which he showed in his sole term as a congressman. Just months into the job, he was the only House member to turn down a meeting President Barack Obama called with GOP House members about the debt crisis and looming govern- ment shutdown.

  "I don't intend to spend my morning being lectured to by a president whose failed policies have put our children and grandchildren in a huge burden of debt," Landry said at the time. In the next election cycle, he lost to fellow Republican Congressman Charles Boustany.

  Not long after that, Obama delivered a speech about jobs to a joint session of Congress, during which Landry held up a sign that read, "DRILLING = JOBS." The stunt got Landry lots of attention but little respect. He passed no bills during his short stay in Congress. Even more bizarre, he tried to intervene when the University of Louisiana at Lafayette began offering an LGBT studies minor (which consisted of existing classes).

Landry may have his eye on the 2019 election, but he has yet to prove he can faithfully do the job he has.

  All this was just a run-up to the attention-seeking mischief Landry has created since becoming AG in January. In the spring, he backed a failed legislative bill that would have allowed him to halt state construction funding to municipalities (primarily New Orleans) that had "sanctuary cities" policies. Several months later, he grabbed headlines when a Honduran national with no driver's license caused a bus crash that killed two and injured dozens in St. John the Baptist Parish. Landry returned to Washington D.C. to huff and puff about sanctuary cities — again to no avail other than cheap publicity for himself — implying New Orleans was somehow to blame for the accident. The driver in question lived in Jefferson Parish, which consistently identifies immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.

  Now Landry has set his sights on Edwards — or rather, on the Governor's Mansion. After Edwards issued an executive order barring discrimination in the hiring decisions of state agencies and contractors (using language that was in place under Governors Kathleen Blanco and Mike Foster), Landry refused to approve dozens of state contracts because he disagreed with Edwards' policy. Edwards sued Landry and lost on a technicality. Now the AG has sued back, accusing Edwards of "legislating through executive fiat." Landry claims to be taking up for the legislative will, but there's no real evidence that he's doing anything more than promoting himself for higher office.

  Landry may have his eye on the 2019 election, but he has yet to prove he can faithfully do the job he has. Tea party followers love to rail against "activist judges," but Landry is no better — an activist AG. And a rank demagogue to boot.


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