With Letten gone, ’tis the season for intrigue and wild rumors

Mob boss Carlos Marcello. Wikimedia

It’s transition time at the local U.S. attorney’s office, now that Jim Letten, the nation’s longest-serving federal prosecutor, and his top three lieutenants have retired in the wake of a scandal involving anonymous online comments.

Ounce of prevention vs. $300,000 in campaign contributions

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil drilling disaster, Louisiana’s two U.S. Senators, Mary Landrieu, a Democrat, and David Vitter, a Republican, did not call for more research.  Like most rational people, they called for safety measures to mitigate the potentially devastating impact of future disasters. You might think it was a no-brainer, then, that they’d eagerly back a proposal to step up safety measures at industrial facilities such as oil refineries and water treatment plants—in Louisiana alone there are more than 100.

Senator using skewed numbers on oil industry’s safety record

By Benjamin Leger, The Lens contributing opinion writer |

Testifying in front of the Senate Energy Committee in May 2010 while the Deepwater Horizon was still gushing oil into the Gulf, Louisiana’s U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu voiced her opposition to the moratorium on deepwater exploratory drilling:
Since 1971, not a single spill in the Gulf, or the entire federal OCS (outer-continental shelf), caused by a well blowout exceeded 1,000 barrels of oil. We are exceeding 7,000 barrels of oil every day and a half with this current uncontrolled flow.

Q&A with Landrieu staffers

The Lens contacted Sen. Mary Landrieu’s office recently to discuss her role in the oil spill response. In an interview with Tom Michaels, the senator’s legislative director, and Aaron Saunders, her communications director, we discussed campaign contributions from BP and from the maker of the dispersants and whether drilling for oil continues to be a worthy domestic prospect for the future.

Senate action helps chances for New Orleans housing

Just a couple weeks ago, affordable-housing proponents had little hope that developments to replace the public-housing complexes torn down after the levee failures would materialize. A damning federal assessment of the Housing Authority of New Orleans stated that, “Two of HANO’s Big Four the former Lafitte and B.W. Cooper projects mixed-income deals are in jeopardy.

O'Keefe: Neither pimp nor journalist

Since four men were arrested by the FBI for illegally entering U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu’s New Orleans office, many news media outlets have been quick to identify one of them, James O’Keefe, as a journalist – often an “investigative journalist.” They’ve also identified O’Keefe as a guy who dressed as a pimp and entered ACORN offices with a woman dressed as a prostitute to discuss scams for government funding.

Louisiana Liddys dial-a-felony

Tuesday’s news that four men have been charged with attempting to commit a felony after an attempt to tamper with the phones in U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu’s office in New Orleans has become a big national story. Talking Points Memo has been out in front, reporting on the backgrounds of the four men involved with the plot: Stan Dai, Joseph Basel, James O’Keefe –  who famously shot incriminating video of ACORN employees doling out inappropriate legal advice to a man looking to launder prostitution profits –  and Robert Flanagan, who is the son of acting U.S. Attorney in Shreveport, James Flanagan.