Milestones in Opposition Research


From Machiavelli to Mike Foster, politicians worldwide have trafficked in closely guarded secrets. If juicy enough, they can make or break an election, separating the wannabes from the warriors. Here's a look at a few choice cuts from the history of local opposition research:

1958 Although it wasn't a well-kept secret to begin with, word is leaked to the press that former Gov. Earl Long is frequenting a particular burlesque club on Bourbon Street in an effort to court stripper Blaze Starr.

1983 Opposition research finally takes center stage in Louisiana politics in the gubernatorial face-off between former Govs. Dave Treen and Edwin Edwards. Treen creates a team of operatives, dubbed "The Truth Squad," to follow Edwards around and point out alleged inconsistencies and half-truths to the traveling media.

1991 A group of liberal-minded professors uncover the Nazi-laced writings of Klansman David Duke in his gubernatorial bid against Edwin Edwards.

1996 After spending several days at the state Ethics Commission, a Democratic operative busts the U.S. Senate race wide open with questionable spending practices by former Attorney General Richard Ieyoub. Many believe the personal expenditures may have cost Ieyoub the election.

1998 Porn pioneer Larry Flynt offers $1 million to anyone who can prove they had an "illicit sexual relation" with a congressman, senator or other prominent officeholder. U.S. Rep. Bob Livingston acknowledges he had "strayed" from his marriage and resigns -- just before being elected speaker of the U.S. House.

2000 Ken Duncan loses his position as state treasurer with 44 percent of the vote after the media links him with a string of DUI arrests and an effort to install a full bathroom with shower in his office.

2002 Once the fancy of political lore, and a story floated repeatedly by operatives, the Justice Department confirms, through an unrelated investigation, that former Gov. Mike Foster purchased from David Duke a mailing list that included addresses of the former KKK leader's supporters.

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