And you thought the Pelican State had seen it all. Nearly five years ago, then–Louisiana congressman William Jefferson, a Democrat, hid $90,000 cash in his freezer. Following an FBI bribery sting, he was finally sentenced to 13 years in prison last week. Turns out he was a cheap date.
ABC News reports that Louisiana senator Mary Landrieu, one of the last Democrats holding out on supporting Senate majority leader Harry Reid’s health-care legislation, has sweetened Louisiana’s slice of Obamacare by $100 million (via disaster-relief dollars) in a little-noticed provision on page 432 of Reid’s bill. Landrieu, of course, is not doing anything to hide this $100 million allocation. If anything, she’s proud of it. It’s “something she has been working on for a long time,” says Robert Sawicki, Landrieu’s press secretary.
Not all of Landrieu’s colleagues, however, are quite so happy about it. One reason: The $100 million provision was hammered out behind closed doors on Thursday in Reid’s office.
“I’m sure they were talking about more than the weather,” Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) tells NRO. Look, says McCain, “there should not be a surprise boost in Medicaid funding for states that have been declared disaster areas in the last seven years. If you look at what’s in that provision, you see the benefits those states (that are home to fence-sitting Democrats) will receive, especially Louisiana, which suffered from Hurricane Katrina in 2005.”
“We need to engage in an extensive debate over these things,” says McCain. By dispensing such fine-print favors, he adds, Reid could be seen as trying to “buy” Landrieu’s vote.
“In a 2,074-page bill, there’s a lot of room for mischief,” says McCain.