It turns out there might still be a Republican who doesn’t like their political party being infested with alleged criminals. Right now, big-time Republican donor John Odom is so angry with far-right Louisiana gubernatorial candidate Jeff Landry that he's demanding Landry return the $100,000 Odom donated to his campaign—and he's calling for Louisiana voters to "reject Landry at the polls."
Yep, that counts as mad. And what's gotten Odom to not just wash his hands of the Republican candidate but to try to tank his whole campaign is that Landry just hired Corey Lewandowski, one of Donald Trump's 2016 campaign managers.
Politico brings us the story, and at first glance, you might think that a big GOP donor is finally putting his foot down when it comes to Republicans surrounding themselves with sleazebags. And you'd be right about that, sort of. As in, in the most narrow, situationally specific sense.
You see, Odom objects to Lewandowski because Odom is the husband of the woman who got Lewandowski criminally charged for allegedly groping her at a 2021 Las Vegas charity dinner. Trashelle Odom said she came forward because Lewandowski, who has a history of such allegations, "needs to be held accountable," and Lewandowski later plea-bargained his way out of the misdemeanor charges by paying a fine, agreeing to community service, and taking "impulse control training." (The bargain did not require him to admit guilt)
So this isn't quite a case of a major Republican donor getting peeved that Republicans keep hiring crime-adjacent sleazebags. This is a case where a major Republican donor is pissed off that his favored Republican candidate hired the one sleazebag who allegedly committed a crime against his family. Landry could likely have hired any number of serial killers and the Republican donor community wouldn't have a single damn thing to say about it, but there's at least one donor out there who draws the line at "hiring the one specific guy who allegedly groped my ex-wife."
And you know what? Good for him. That's an actual standard, albeit a very narrow one, and it's still a hundred times more principled than 99 out of 100 Republicans in the Trump era. This is a whole party that lives for making statements like "It's perfectly fine if Donald Trump gropes your wife." At least Odom here is bringing a little class back to the party.
Or so you might think. But there are a lot of weird details here that blur even that supposed happy little lesson—and by "weird," I mean yikes. From Politico:
Lewandowski, in a text, made note that more than a decade ago Odom pleaded guilty to issuing checks without funds and was also arrested in Louisiana for violation for “Misapplication of Payment by Contracts.” He was accused by Suzanne Craig, then the chief criminal deputy prosecutor in Twin Falls, Idaho, of being a “charismatic con artist” who moved to Louisiana to take advantage of natural disaster victims there.
“I won’t dignify Mr. Odom with a response,” he added “I will allow the words of Suzanne Craig, chief criminal deputy prosecutor to speak for itself.”
Odom, in response, offered the following remark: “Funny. I wasn’t such a bad guy when Landry accepted my $100,000 contribution.”
Oh look, a corruption slap fight. Goodie.
As for Trashelle Odom, she's telling candidate Landry to keep her ex-husband's $100,000, and that half of it came from her anyway, and she's still giving Landry her "full and complete support" despite Lewandowski's hiring. So that’s a little curious as well.
If all of this sounds naggingly familiar, it's because John Odom is the reason Lewandowski was fired from Trumpland back when the incident with his ex-wife occurred. Odom demanded that Lewandowski be removed from his position at the MAGA Action super PAC—and demanded the return of his $100,000 donation to the PAC if Lewandowski wasn't removed.
Does this guy go around giving every Republican $100,000 so that he can claim it back if they ever hire Corey Lewandowski? No, that seems more of a Jeff Bezos move. But if you ever become a billionaire, you might put that on your list of possible hobbies.
So that's where we're at. Louisiana Republican Landry now has to decide whether to fire Lewandowski, whom Politico reports he has already paid, ahem, $100,000, or whether to return Odom's $100,000, or return $50,000 and keep the rest because Odom's ex-wife, the one Lewandowski allegedly groped, says she still wants Landry to keep the money, or do nothing and just accept that he's now on this one particular donor's enemies list for the rest of time.
And all of this is predicated on Lewandowski's advice being worth $100,000 under any circumstances, which is the most implausible premise in the whole story. We have to give Odom credit for recognizing that much, no matter how the rest of the saga went down: Anyone willing to pay Corey Lewandowski $100,000 is not fit for public office, period.
I mean, that one's a no-brainer.
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We did it! And it's all thanks to Molech! We're devoting this week's episode of "The Downballot" to giving praise to the dark god himself after New Hampshire Democrat Hal Rafter won a critical special election over Republican Jim Guzofski, the loony toons pastor who once ranted that liberals make "blood sacrifices to their god Molech." Democrats are now just one seat away from erasing the GOP's majority in the state House and should feel good about their chances in the Granite State next year. Republicans, meanwhile, can only stew bitterly that they lack the grassroots fundraising energy provided by Daily Kos, which endorsed Rafter and raised the bulk of his campaign funds via small donations.