Wait a minute.
That’s the reaction of David Vitter’s campaign to an Advocate news report on Sunday that quoted John Bel Edwards as saying former Congressman Cleo Fields has played no role in his gubernatorial campaign.
The Advocate reported that Fields traveled on a private plane that carried Edwards and several others to Washington, D.C., on Oct. 30 for a fundraiser at the home of political consultant James Carville.
“He was invited as someone else’s guest,” Edwards, a state representative, was quoted as telling the newspaper. “That doesn’t give him a role in the campaign.”
Sen. Vitter’s campaign has unearthed a 30-second radio spot where Fields endorsed Edwards during the primary.
“We need to elect a governor who cares about the people of our state and will put the people’s interests over his own ambition,” Fields said. “We need John Bel Edwards as our next governor.”
The ad ends with Edwards’ recorded voice saying his campaign paid for the ad.
Mary-Patricia Wray, Edwards’ spokeswoman, said Tuesday that he understood the question during the interview to be whether Fields was part of his inner circle of advisers, because the conversation with the reporter had earlier touched on that issue.
The Vitter campaign used the apparent discrepancy between Edwards’ initial statement and the radio ad to say it shows he is not truthful about his record and whom he associates with.
Campaign finance records show that Fields contributed $5,000 to Edwards’ campaign during the primary.
Doug Williams, the former Grambling quarterback who was the MVP of Super Bowl XXII, said Fields didn’t go to Washington to attend the Carville fundraiser but to have dinner with his son, a student at George Washington University. Williams said he picked up Fields at the private aircraft area of Dulles International Airport in Virginia and drove them to meet Fields’ son for dinner in downtown Washington, D.C.
Williams, who said Fields has done legal work for him, said he took Fields back to the airport afterward that evening.
Fields did not return two phone calls Tuesday.
Other sources said New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu was among the other passengers, as was the man who provided the plane, Jim Bernhard, the would-be Democratic candidate for governor who founded The Shaw Group and now operates Bernhard Capital Partners.
Bernhard, a neighbor of Fields, did not return a phone call.
Fields, who, like Edwards, is a Democrat, has been popular among African-American voters, winning repeated elections to represent Baton Rouge in the state Senate and in Congress from 1998-2008. He finished second in the 1995 primary for governor but lost the runoff to Mike Foster.
But Fields apparently remains toxic politically among many voters for having been videotaped in 1997 receiving $20,000 from Edwin W. Edwards at the former governor’s law office and stuffing the cash into his pockets. Edwin Edwards and John Bel Edwards are not related.
An FBI camera captured the exchange during an investigation of Edwin Edwards that led to his 2000 conviction on bribery charges. Fields was never charged and has never publicly disclosed why he received the money.
Follow Tyler Bridges on Twitter, @TegBridges. For more coverage of the governor’s race, follow Louisiana Politics at http://blogs.theadvocate.com/politicsblog/.