This week, Louisiana gubernatorial candidate Eddie Rispone released an ad touting his record as a “conservative outsider” — a narrative the former businessman has repeatedly attempted to drive home throughout his primary campaign.
“If you look around the country you see that voters are turning away from the same old tax and spend career politicians, and turning to leadership — conservative outsiders with serious business backgrounds–to solve the problems left by career politicians,” Rispone wrote in an op-ed published on the conservative website The Hayride on Friday.
But an American Ledger review of the millions of dollars in political contributions Rispone and his family have doled out in the past two decades made clear that Rispone has been mired in the swamp for years.
Rispone, his late wife and current wife have donated more than $2 million to Republicans and conservative causes since 2000, including more than $361,000 to former Sen. David Vitter’s campaigns and PAC and more than $100,000 each to the last two Republican presidential nominees, according to data from the Federal Election Commission and the Louisiana Board of Ethics.
The Rispones also contributed more than $78,000 to the Republican Party of Louisiana and nearly $24,000 to former Gov. Bobby Jindal for his gubernatorial and presidential campaigns.
Rispone’s support didn’t go unnoticed.
Jindal named him to the state Craft Workforce Development Board in 2005 and the Economic Growth Transition Advisory Council Workforce Group in 2007 and appointed him the chairman of the Workforce Investment Council in 2008.
On Tuesday, Sam Karlin, a reporter for The Advocate newspaper in Baton Rouge, noted that several Republican officeholders — including state Sens. Dan Claitor, Jack Donahue, Eddie Lambert and Mack “Bodi” White and state Reps. Tony Bacala, Stuart Bishop and Scott Simon — have recently contributed to his campaign.
FEC records show that the Rispone family — including Eddie Risponse’s brother and children — have been major Republican players in Louisiana for more than 20 years.
Between 2001 and 2015, Eddie Rispone and his late wife, Phyllis, and current wife, Linda, contributed $327,000 to Vitters’ PACs and $44,000 to his campaigns, nearly all of it after his career was nearly ruined in a sex scandal.
In 2007, Vitter admitted to using an escort service after his number was found in the phone records of convicted felon Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the so-called “D.C. Madam” who was charged with running a prostitution ring earlier that year.
In May 2008, Palfrey committed suicide, weeks before she was to be sentenced to prison. In 2010, Vitter was reelected to the Senate with the Rispones’ support.
The Rispones have also contributed significantly to other Louisiana Republicans: Sen. Bill Cassidy ($75,300), Sen. John Kennedy ($54,350), House Minority Whip Steve Scalise ($50,100) and Rep. Garret Graves ($24,100).