Bobby Jindal Uses State Funds to Travel to and Speak at Churches September 4, 2009

Bobby Jindal Uses State Funds to Travel to and Speak at Churches

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has been visiting churches across the state on the taxpayers’ dime. Actually, it’s worse than a dime. His trips have cost around $45,000:

Between March 2 and July 20, Jindal traveled to churches, mostly in north Louisiana, on a state helicopter at a cost to the taxpayers of about $45,000, according to State Police records.

In May, June and July, there was rarely a Sunday when Jindal did not fly a taxpayer-funded helicopter to church services in a remote part of the state. Two aides usually accompanied him along with his security detail and pilots.

The Governor’s Office refuses to tell the media ahead of time about Jindal’s church visits.

A video of one of the visits — posted on YouTube — shows that Jindal talks about the military, his family, his values and his conversion to Christianity.

This is entanglement of church and state. Jindal is not visiting churches on his own as a worshiper. He is making political speeches using government money — it’s illegal, pure and simple.

A few days ago, Rev. Welton Gaddy, a Baptist minister and head of the Interfaith Alliance, wrote Jindal a letter urging him to pay the state back:

If you were traveling to these churches to worship with the various congregations, you should have paid your own expenses to get there as did the other worshippers. If you were traveling to these churches for the purpose of sharing your personal faith and encouraging faith in others, state funds absolutely should not have been used to pay your expenses. Indeed, in that instance, your state-funded actions were a violation of the United States Constitution’s promise of religious freedom which has been a critical contributor to the vitality of religion in our nation. If you were traveling to these churches for political purposes, you should not have been there in the first place, regardless of who funded the travel.

Governor Jindal, it appears that you owe the people of Louisiana an apology and the treasurer of the state a reimbursement of at least $45,000 in addition to whatever money was spent in the period not covered by the Advocate’s investigation. No taxpayer money should have been used for your travel.

So how did Jindal’s spokesperson respond?

This political group [the Interfaith Alliance] opposes putting crosses up in honor of fallen policemen, has attacked the National Day of Prayer and advocates for same-sex marriage, so it’s not surprising that they are attacking the governor for accepting invitations to speak at Louisiana churches.

And that should settle the matter…

Or not, since it doesn’t even address the issue.

The Interfaith Alliance was against the Religious Right hijacking of the Day of Prayer, not that people shouldn’t pray. Their stance on gay marriage is that gay couples should be eligible for the same rights as straight couples, not that churches should be forced to perform gay marriage ceremonies. And no one is upset that Jindal accepted invitations to speak at churches. The issues are that he only seems to speak at churches and he used state funds to do it.

Rachel Maddow had Gaddy on her show last night to talk about the issue:

I doubt Jindal has any intention to pay the money back, and in his mind, he thinks what he did was perfectly fine.

That’s a problem.

This is why Jindal has no right aspiring to higher office as a potential Republican presidential candidate. This is why residents of the state should be demanding his resignation. It’s disgusting that any politician would be doing anything like this.

(Thanks to Hector for the link!)

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • So he knowingly breaks the law, but doesn’t care because he’s trying to win votes.

    I’m really happy to hear Rev. Welton Gaddy standing up for what is right and proper!

  • Amy G

    I agree that he should pay the money back. If he wanted to speak at churches, he should have either 1) gone to his supporters and asked for funds for his special travels or 2) asked the churches who invited him to speak to pay his travel expenses.

    I never thought I’d like a Baptist preacher, but Rev. Welton Gaddy gets a big thumbs up from me!

  • Epistaxis

    Well, at least he’s only using the money for personal travel, not donating it directly to churches. So it’s more of a personal corruption thing than a church-state thing.

  • ChameleonDave

    It’s not a matter of having the honour to pay it back. This is serious fraud, and the police should be looking into it.

  • When I saw this story in the Advocate a few days ago, I didn’t know it’d make the rounds so far. Glad to hear that it’s turning into a national story, with additional juicy goodness added in the form of coverage of the bailout money being handed around willy-nilly.

  • medussa

    Gotta love Rachel Maddow.

  • simple:


  • It looks like Bobby Jindal is grooming himself to be president… of “focus on the family”

  • just say no!!!!!!!

  • Valdyr

    Going to church in a friggin helicopter, with a bunch of menacing bodyguards? Good to see he really takes the parts of the New Testament about humility to heart.

  • Jeremy Johnson

    I don’t see anything wrong with this. If it bothers you, work to vote him out. It’s no different than other uses of public funds to meet the public. Even Barack himself has taken trips that could be considered more personal in nature, and he’s your God.

  • Jeremy Johnson, you wrote:

    “I don’t see anything wrong with this. If it bothers you, work to vote him out. It’s no different than other uses of public funds to meet the public. Even Barack himself has taken trips that could be considered more personal in nature, and he’s your God.”

    Excuse me?!

    So you don’t see anything wrong with a politician using state money illegitimately for private campaigning?

    If this were Al Gore in the Buddhist temple, you’d be outraged, now wouldn’t you?

    Also, atheists come in many stripes: libertarian, socialist, liberal, conservative, apathetic. We don’t “worship” Barack Obama.

    Excuse me while I vomit.

  • medussa

    Jeremy, it’s called breaking the law.
    Just because you see no problem with it doesn’t discount the fact that it is against the law to use taxpayer money for private visits. And considering how tight money is these days, it’s twice as important to be clear about where it is spent.

    And seeing as how he is an elected representative of the State, he at one point swore an oath to uphold the laws of this same state. He probably even put his hand on the bible to swear that oath.

    As for Obama, I voted for the man, and still have fairly high hopes for his administration to pull us out of this mess were in and to reverse some of the damage BushCo created. This does not make him my god.
    Either you are an idiot for believing that voting for someone means he is a god, or you are a troll, intentionally trying to insult and flame in order to get some attention. Or you’re both. You choose.

  • Mitur Binesderti

    Yeah, I don’t see any problem with it. If he wants to rape and murder children then that’s his right and if you don’t like you should just vote him out. That’s how crime is dealt with right?

    Except of course later on we’ll be told that it happened in the past and we’re just bringing it up for political reasons.

  • Neon Genesis

    I don’t see anything wrong with this. If it bothers you, work to vote him out. It’s no different than other uses of public funds to meet the public. Even Barack himself has taken trips that could be considered more personal in nature, and he’s your God.

    Are you implicating Bobby Jindal is your god and you’re committing blasphemy by worshiping another god other than Yahweh? And so what if Obama uses tax payers’ money for his personal use and to promote religion? How does one political party using tax payers’ money to promote religion justify the other party doing the same thing? Just because Obama might do the same thing does not mean it’s ok for Jindal to do it. What it does mean is that it’s wrong for both of them to do it and they should both be called out on it when they do do this but this is apparently too hard of a concept for you to grasp.

  • Curtis

    My question is whether his visit were only to churches or was he doing a state tour. If he visited a church in the morning, a school in the afternoon and a chamber of commerce in the evening, I think state money would be OK. For good or for bad, churches are frequently the center of a community.

    If he is only visiting churches, taking state money would be illegal.

  • james

    liberals are so threatened by jindal. Next it’ll be a 2 hour discussion on msnbc about how much state money he spends on the tuna sandwiches he ate for lunch while visiting the churchs. oh please people!!! this man is a good intelligent soul and LA is blessed to have him resurrecting the state to where it ought to be.

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