AP NEWS

Donor offers judgeship backing if Senate candidate left race

October 16, 2019 GMT

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A Republican donor trying to keep a three-way Louisiana Senate runoff from giving Democrats an advantage offered to help a GOP candidate run for judge if he dropped out of the Senate race.

GOP businessman Lane Grigsby, a high-spender on political campaigns, confirmed Wednesday to The Advocate he made the offer to Franklin Foil, trying to get him to cede the GOP runoff position in the Baton Rouge-based Senate race to Steve Carter.

“I’m not offering (Foil) a judgeship,” Grigsby said. “I can’t. I don’t exactly have the authority to do that. What I’m saying is ‘If you make a sacrifice for the state of Louisiana, I’ll make sure that sacrifice is recognized.’”

Grigsby said he spoke with Sen. Dan Claitor, the term-limited Republican who holds the seat and endorsed Foil. Claitor said he didn’t pass along the message because he “was appalled.”

“I thought it was inappropriate, possibly illegal and I am not Mr. Grigsby’s errand boy,” Claitor told The Baton Rouge Business Report on Wednesday.

Foil and Carter, state representatives, tied for second-place in Saturday’s primary. Both could head to a Nov. 16 runoff against Democrat Beverly Brooks Thompson. An absentee ballot recount is scheduled Thursday. If the race goes to the unusual three-person runoff, the highest vote-getter wins.

Grigsby said he doesn’t want Democrats to capture a seat held by Republicans since the 1980s because two GOP contenders split the vote.

Asked whether he thought his offer was illegal, Grigsby said it wasn’t a quid pro quo because he didn’t speak to Foil directly.

“All I’ve said is, ‘Hey, if you do something that helps the state of Louisiana, I want to help you,’” Grigsby said. “How is that illegal? It might be. Lawyers run the world today and they twist and distort reality in a way that fits their personal definition.”

Foil said he hasn’t spoken to Grigsby in months.

“I will make my own decisions,” Foil said. “I will not be influenced by outside interests.”

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Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com