A different kind of ‘Louisiana Purchase’

A DIFFERENT KIND OF ‘LOUISIANA PURCHASE’…. There are 14 states (and counting) launching odd lawsuits against the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, and 13 are the result of conservative Republican state attorneys general. The exception is Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, a Democrat.

Not knowing much about Caldwell, I’d assumed that he, like many Dems in Louisiana, is far more conservative than the party at large. It also seemed likely that Caldwell might have his intentions set on higher office, and thought his role in this lawsuit might help.

But Amanda Terkel and Matt Yglesias have flagged an interesting report from a small Louisiana paper that suggests there may be more going on behind the scenes with this case.

It also turns out [Caldwell] may have been reluctant to become what he described as the “token Democrat” in the litigation, but was backed into a corner by Gov. Bobby Jindal. […]

In a subsequent address to employees of his office, the Attorney General said the decision was made more out of the necessity of saving jobs in his agency than any real hope — or desire — of overturning the health care law.

One employee said Caldwell, in a candid admission, claimed that a deal was made with Jindal. Under terms of that agreement, the governor would not make additional cuts in the attorney general’s budget if Caldwell joined in the litigation. Caldwell agreed to be the “token Democrat,” he said, so that he might save additional job cuts by an administration whose state goal is to reduce the number of state employees by as much as 5,000 per year over three years.

It’s worth emphasizing that the report in the Eunice News, published late last week, has not been confirmed elsewhere, and neither the governor nor the state AG have commented publicly on the alleged deal.

But if the report is accurate, it would not only be a pretty significant scandal for Jindal, it would also put the notion of a “Louisiana Purchase” and controversial, secret “backroom deals” in a whole new, bipartisan light.

Update: I’ve heard from Kyle Plotkin, Jindal’s press secretary, who claims there is “absolutely no truth” to the allegations reported in the local paper. Plotkin went on to argue that the claim is “ridiculous.” I’m still doing some digging on this, but there’s the official denial.