FOR MORE THAN A DECADE, I have published CenLamar, a popular website that traffics on and relishes in the surreality of Louisiana politics.
During those ten years, I have feuded with a former klansman, interviewed Governors and U.S. Senators, become unlikely friends with staunch Republicans and upset more than a couple of my fellow Democrats. I’ve broken stories about corrupt voucher schools, about a broken campaign finance system, about phony environmental projects, and about laws that made Louisiana the laughingstock of the nation. I’ve covered issues both big and small, from the attempt to save an old baseball field in Alexandria to a United States Congressman neglecting to properly account for the work he was paid to do by LSU.
On CenLamar, the nation first learned that the House Majority Whip, Steve Scalise, once attended an international white supremacist meeting, and it caught its first glimpse of the bizarre portrait that former Gov. Bobby Jindal displayed at the entrance to his office. CenLamar was also the very first outlet to report that a private investigator working for David Vitter’s gubernatorial campaign had been arrested only a day before the primary election.
In my years as a blogger and an investigative reporter, I have been fortunate to cultivate meaningful and long-lasting relationships with people from all corners of the state, relationships that have provided me with insight and a keen understanding of the issues and relationships that have reinforced my belief in the promise of Louisiana’s future.
For the last decade, my website has been guided by a simple mission: To expose hypocrisy wherever it may be, to demand truth and accountability of those in power, and to champion a more civil and pragmatic politics.
Because of my online advocacy, most only know me as a “blogger.” But, throughout much of the last decade, my day job was in local government, working as an assistant to a mayor. This experience allowed me to understand both sides of the story and afforded me with the opportunity to work on meaningful and transformative public policy. It taught me that good government is capable of doing good things.
I will continue to publish CenLamar on a regular basis, and I will ensure that it continues to be free and accessible to anyone with an internet connection. I will also continue to champion my home state and my hometown by working on policy.
But today, I am announcing the launch of a new venture, Imagine Louisiana Communications, a statewide political consulting and communications firm that specializes in cultivating candidates at all levels of government and providing elected officials with the research and the resources they require when making critical decisions on policy.
We are not lobbyists, however. We neither advocate for nor argue against any particular industry, special interest group, or organization. Instead, we aim to provide candidates and lawmakers with exhaustive and balanced research on any given topic, with the hope of cutting through the noise and providing the requisite clarity needed to make an informed decision. We are hired by candidates and lawmakers, not by businesses, lobbyists, or special interest groups, to exhaustively research, fact-check, investigate, and analyze both sides of any given issue.
I decided to launch Imagine Louisiana because, after a decade of writing about politics, both big and small, I recognized a communication breakdown and a pervasive apathy and ignorance about the facts.
I earnestly believe we can resolve these problems and inspire people, once again, to become proud, civic-minded stakeholders in their communities, their parishes, and their state. We must begin by daring to be honest about the facts and with one another.
My first order of business as the founder of Imagine Louisiana was to bring on my friend Cayman Clevenger. Cayman is a few years younger than I am. He’s never published a blog, and in the years I’ve known him, he has always been a master of diplomacy.
Cayman and I are both natives of Louisiana; both of us are graduates of Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law, and both of us are trained in dispute resolution and research methodology. However, Cayman is a life-long registered Republican and a graduate of Tulane, and I am a life-long registered Democrat and a graduate of Rice. I knew it was important to begin this project by inviting and welcoming a challenging and rigorous discussion. I can only hope that the discussion becomes more robust, productive, and civil than it currently is between many Democrats and Republicans in this country.
That said, don’t get me wrong: I am an outspoken Democrat whose beliefs are not informed by abstract notions or hollow rhetoric.
For a while, I called myself a liberal. Then, I called myself a progressive. And I believe I am still both of those things.
But more than anything else, I am a democratic pragmatist.
I founded this firm with the hope that the majority of us, slowly but surely, will understand the urgent necessity of pragmatism in our politics.