How David Vitter has gone from Louisiana GOP celebrity to running vs. establishment he helped create _lowres

Advocate staff photo by APRIL BUFFINGTON -- Gubernatorial candidate David Vitter answer questions at the candidate forum held at Southern University on Wednesday, November 11.

On the day of the Oct. 24 primary, five companies that share an address with Houston-based Texas Brine gave $25,000 to Republican David Vitter’s campaign for governor.

None of the donations came directly from Texas Brine, the company widely blamed for the 31-acre Bayou Corne sinkhole, but all are affiliated with the company that has been fighting a class action lawsuit in Assumption Parish.

Vitter is embroiled in a heated governor’s race with Democrat John Bel Edwards. Voters will decide the next governor in a Nov. 21 runoff.

During the primary race, a political action committee backing Vitter launched a television ad that took aim at Republican rival Scott Angelle’s handling of the sinkhole as secretary of the Department of Natural Resources. Angelle came in third place in the primary, failing to secure a spot in the runoff.

Vitter said he wasn’t familiar with the details of the specific donations, but he didn’t find them surprising.

“Certainly, we have enormous support through all parts of the energy sector,” he said.

Angelle, who has not commented on the connection, has not endorsed any candidate in the runoff. Republican Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne crossed party lines to endorse Edwards. Several Angelle supporters recently held a fundraiser for Edwards in Lafayette.

The sinkhole appeared in early August 2012. Angelle resigned on Aug. 8, 2012, to run for the Public Service Commission, a decision that he said had been in the works for some time. The anti-Angelle ad implied he resigned to avoid responsibility for the sinkhole.

An attorney who represents Vitter’s campaign also represents Texas Brine.

Follow Elizabeth Crisp on Twitter @elizabethcrisp. For more coverage of Louisiana state government and politics, follow our Politics blog at http://blogs.theadvocate.com/politicsblog .