Gov. John Bel Edwards on Wednesday fielded questions about the state budget, traffic problems, TOPS scholarships and Confederate monuments during his monthly call-in radio show.
Perhaps unexpectedly, the most controversy erupted over a question about his relationship with U.S. Rep. Garret Graves, who he has repeatedly verbally sparred with over the state's efforts to secure flood recovery dollars from the federal government.
Gov. John Bel Edwards' administration accused a Baton Rouge congressman Thursday of spreadin…
Asked if he had talked to Graves recently, the governor said he had he offered to meet with Graves recently to go over their disagreements and the status of funds already coming to the state.
"It's not something he was interested in doing," Edwards said before moving to the next topic.
But the remark was enough to set off yet another dispute between the Democratic governor and Republican congressman from Baton Rouge.
Graves office provided a series of emails to The Advocate, dated March 31-April 5 in which the their official aides attempt to arrange a meeting between the two during the governor's most recent visit to Washington, D.C.
Tension over Louisiana's recovery from last year's catastrophic floods became the focus of a…
Throughout the exchange, both agree that a meeting should take place but have varying conflicts.
In one email, Graves' scheduler invites the governor to a tulip reception at the Netherlands Embassy that was to include "a quick visit with the Ambassador."
Edwards' office said the governor had a tight schedule, including meetings with Sens. Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy, as well as officials in the Trump Administration.
Ending the email exchange, Edwards' scheduler notifies Graves': "Unfortunately the Governor will be headed back to Louisiana during those times. We will try to reconnect them at a later date."
After the governor's radio comments, Graves' official Twitter account blasted it as "more fake news from the gov" and tweeted screen grabs of the email correspondence.
Edwards' spokesman Richard Carbo said that Edwards and Graves spoke in person briefly after a hearing on Capitol Hill and agreed that they would meet up when they had returned to Louisiana. He tweeted a photo of the two of them together.
@elizabethcrisp @RepGarretGraves @LouisianaGov And here's a photo of their conversation where Gov. Edwards personally invited Rep. Graves to meet when schedules allowed. #lagov pic.twitter.com/nm0WpdvOfw— Richard Carbo (@richardacarbo) April 19, 2017
"The congressman was to follow up to schedule a meeting based on their conversation in the hallway. That has not yet happened," Carbo said in an email to The Advocate. "If Congressman Graves put half as much effort into actually doing his job to assist flood victims as he does to playing these childish games, we’d be a lot further along in our recovery."
The exchange is just the latest run-in between the two. And a rare bit of controversy for what is otherwise typically an easy-going radio show.
Wednesday's episode was the governor's 13th since taking office January 2016.
Another politically-charged answer from the governor prompted a rare follow up call from a listener.
The following is a partial transcript of Gov. John Bel Edwards' meeting with The Advocate ed…
A caller who identified himself as James in St. Tammany Parish said that he is a Democrat and asked Edwards, Louisiana's only state-wide elected Democrat and the lone Democratic governor in the Deep South, what can be done to rebuild the party and how he can get involved.
Edwards didn't mention the state's central Democratic Party, but he urged James to seek out the executive committee in his parish. Edwards didn't offer a specific person whom he should seek out.
"I encourage everybody out there to get involved, whether it's Democrat or Republican or independent, to shape our future," Edwards said. "Let's just think of ourselves as being Louisianans coming together to solve our problems."
That prompted a call from a man who identified himself as David in New Orleans to call to ask the governor how he could recommend setting aside party politics when the country is currently facing such a politically-charged climate. He said he was surprised by the governor's previous answer.
"We have our challenges, and unfortunately, I believe that Washington, D.C.-style politics and mentality is taking roots in Baton Rouge but we are not Washington, D.C., yet ... We're still able to sit down and talk."
"We can get back to being Republicans and Democrats when it's time to run again," Edwards said.
It echoed a comment from Edwards at the beginning of his radio show when he was asked about the status of ongoing budget negotiations.
"Structural fixes require a two-thirds vote. You can only get that with Democrats and Republicans," he said. "Compromise absolutely is not a dirty word."