After a year of traveling in Europe, former Metairie State Rep. David Duke is set to come back to Louisiana sometime in the next few months, according to Vincent Breeding, Duke's chief of staff.
Duke plans to return this summer, Breeding says, after the May 4 convention of his organization EURO, the European-American Unity and Rights Organization. The convention will be held simultaneously in Italy and the United States, and Duke, EURO's national president, will address American participants via teleconference from Italy.
Breeding, the organization's national director, claims that EURO has chapters in 26 states and several countries and is focused on spotlighting discriminatory practices of government and business, as well as hate crimes against European-Americans.
The Rev. Raymond Brown, chair of the state chapter of the National Action Network, which is headed nationally by the Rev. Al Sharpton, describes EURO differently. "This is an attempt by David Duke to try to re-invent himself," Brown says. "Their position on white civil rights is ludicrous. They control the economy and the federal, state and local governments."
Duke recently moved to Rome, Italy, after spending time in Germany, Austria and Russia, Breeding says, and has been writing books, meeting with political leaders, hiking and speaking at universities throughout Europe. Several weeks ago, Breeding says, Duke was the co-sponsor of and keynote speaker at an anti-Zionism conference in Moscow. Currently, Duke is working on a book tentatively titled For Love of My People.
The ongoing investigation of Duke by the U.S. Attorney's office is apparently not a concern. The investigation centers on the lucrative sale of Duke's mailing list and telemarketing services to both Gov. Mike Foster and U.S. Senate candidate Woody Jenkins. Duke had to pay back taxes to the Internal Revenue Service on a portion of the proceeds that he did not report on his income tax return, but claims the mistake was an unintentional one on the part of his accountant.
The investigation, Breeding claims, was nothing more than harassment and a way for former U.S. Attorney Eddie Jordan to help U.S. Congressman Bill Jefferson in his 1999 campaign for governor against the incumbent Foster. "There was no proof, no nothing," Breeding says. "He was never charged with a crime. It was a huge harassment and a smear campaign. They waited until he left the country to raid his home."
Breeding also believes the investigation was a ploy to embarrass Foster, who continues to receive high marks from both Duke and Breeding.
Jordan disputes Breeding's charges. "The investigation was certainly not an effort to embarrass anyone," he says. "I was doing my job, just like I did in the Edwin Edwards case. I don't allow politics to affect any of my judgment calls."
When asked about the absence of any charges, Jordan says, "I'm surprised that no action has been taken by now. But there's a possibility that things could be going on behind the scenes."
An interesting political scenario could develop if U.S. Rep. David Vitter, who is strongly considering a campaign for governor, wins that race and his seat opens up. In 1999, Duke ran a strong third behind Vitter and former Gov. Dave Treen. Breeding says that if Vitter vacates the office, he would encourage Duke to run for the seat again. "David's support is stronger now," Breeding says. "He has a bigger team of supporters. In the next campaign, he would be twice as aggressive."
Capitano's Close Call
Although most of the incumbents on the Kenner City Council will either face no opposition or weak opposition, one incumbent is not so lucky. Councilman Phil Capitano has been targeted for defeat by a group of influential Kenner political and business leaders led by Kenner Sheriff Nick Congemi.
A Congemi ally, Republican candidate Jules Corona, will be the most formidable opponent Capitano faces in the April 6 election. Corona yard signs have been popping up all over Kenner, and he has picked up considerable political support.
At the recent meeting of the Jefferson Parish Republican Party, an endorsement vote was held. The final tally was 27 votes for Capitano, 26 votes for Corona and one abstention. Capitano received the endorsement, but just barely. No other Republican incumbent had such a hard time with the endorsement, and, presumably, no other one will have such a tough re-election battle as will Capitano.
Hollis Full Steam Ahead
Despite the recent buzz surrounding U.S. Rep. David Vitter's potential candidacy for governor, Jefferson Parish State Sen. Ken Hollis remains committed to the race.
Hollis admits that Vitter, if he runs, will take votes away from him, but says his support will be more multi-faceted than Vitter's. Hollis is originally from Alexandria, and his campaign chairman lives there as well. Hollis also claims to have been involved in businesses all over the state, such as car dealerships and insurance firms.
Hollis has hired respected consultant Greg Buisson to advise him on the race. Currently, Hollis is planning his initial campaign strategy and, in the next few months, will be travelling across the state. When asked if he would forgo the governor's race to run for the statewide office of insurance commissioner because of his experience in the industry, Hollis emphatically stated he would not. His wife vetoed the race because of her concerns about the image of that tarnished office.
Jefferson Alliance Endorsement Meeting
On Tuesday, March 5, at 7 p.m., the members of the Jefferson Alliance will hold a candidates' forum at Messina's Restaurant, located in Kenner at 2717 Williams Blvd. Candidates for the Kenner City Council will be invited to participate. Afterward, the Jefferson Alliance will meet in executive session and make their endorsements. The general public is invited to attend. For more information, contact president Michael Sigur at 466-8941.