THE BUDDY SYSTEM: This Sure Looks Like A Pay-For-Play Scam By Caldwell, Does It Not?

By:  Scott McKay

We have a story to tell, and it’s not completely straightforward – but neither is it very complicated. You’ll read this and very likely come to the same conclusion we did, which is that Louisiana’s Attorney General is an old-time crook running a poorly-disguised pay-for-play operation.

It involves Buddy Caldwell’s political campaign donations, Louisiana’s chiropractors and a somewhat peculiar Attorney General’s opinion issued on March 20 of this year.

The opinion was on a rather obscure topic – namely, the question of whether the practice of “dry needling” should be permitted as an available treatment option by chiropractors in Louisiana. A 10-page opinion was issued which meandered about quite a bit before coming to the conclusion that while “dry needling” uses the same needles as acupuncturists use, they’re used for a slightly different purpose and therefore the Louisiana law which denies chiropractors the use of those needles for acupuncture unless they’re also licensed acupuncturists doesn’t apply. The logic in the opinion isn’t exactly what you’d call tortured, but the opinion, which you can read here, does give off the odor of a preordained result in search of support.

And that’s important because of what preceded the opinion.

Because before January 30 of this year there is no record of Caldwell taking campaign contributions from chiropractors. On that day he picked up a check from Dr. Michael Cavanaugh, D.C. of Lafayette for $100. No big deal, except that Cavanaugh sits on the Louisiana State Board of Chiropractic Examiners.

And then the Louisiana State Board of Chiropractic Examiners about three weeks later asked Caldwell for an opinion on whether chiropractors in Louisiana are allowed to use acupuncture needles – the use of which is restricted to licensed acupuncturists under state law – for the purpose of relieving pain in a slightly different way than acupuncturists do.

In a quite peculiar coincidence, Cavanaugh’s contribution to Caldwell’s campaign was all of a sudden followed by a flood of checks from chiropractors. Between February 19, when the opinion was asked for, and March 20, when it was issued, Caldwell took no less than 104 campaign checks from Louisiana chiropractors, almost all of which for the same $100 Cavanaugh gave. In fact, for the fundraising period ending on April 17, some 27.5 percent of all the campaign contributors to Caldwell’s re-election effort were chiropractors, and this after his never having had a base of donors from that industry before.

Click here, and you can download an Excel spreadsheet of Caldwell’s campaign contributors. You can spot the chiropractors pretty easily – if you look at the column on the right and seek out the $100 contributors they jump right out at you. Occasionally you’ll find a $150, $250 or $500 contributor, but the bulk of them all gave the same amount, as though somebody from the state board put out a communique telling the members “We’re going to get the AG opinion letting us do the dry needling, but we all need to cut Caldwell a check for $100 in return.”

How are we to interpret these events in any way other than it’s a pay-for-play operation? Particularly when we already know that Caldwell has a rather healthy business relationship with attorneys who give him campaign contributions and magically end up with legally dubious considerations like contingency-fee contracts. There is a precedent for pay-for-play where Caldwell is concerned, and now we have this business with the chiropractors who, it seems, were induced to buy a favorable attorney general’s opinion in order to expand their offerings.

It doesn’t smell good. It looks like old-time Louisiana political corruption. We’d love it if Caldwell were to pay a heavy political price – if not a legal one – for such a foul-smelling practice.

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