Legislature Opening Louisiana

Louisiana House Speaker Clay Schexnayder, R-Gonzalez, left, and Senate President Page Cortez, R-Lafayette, react after Cortez broke SchexnayderÕs gavel for the opening of the 2020 general legislative session in Baton Rouge, La., Monday, March 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) ORG XMIT: LAGH108

The Republican leaders of the state Legislature, Senate President Page Cortez and House Speaker Clay Schexnayder, have formed a political organization called Leading Louisiana to help message their legislative efforts.

The 501(c)(4), called Leading Louisiana, can raise money without disclosing its donors, and is similar to a political organization launched on behalf of Gov. John Bel Edwards, called A Stronger Louisiana.

The new group is the latest example of collaboration between the new speaker and president, both of whom took their respective posts earlier this year. The group, run by political consultant Lionel Rainey, called the move an “unprecedented union between leadership” of the two chambers.

Last term, Republican John Alario, an ally of the Democratic governor, was president of the Senate, and the upper chamber served as a backstop to Edwards--where he was able to stop bills he didn’t like and advance his agenda.

That has changed with Schexnayder and Cortez, Republicans who have taken a more independent tact toward legislating. Even though Edwards helped Schexnayder win the speaker’s gavel, Cortez and Schexnayder have worked together to advance Republican priorities.

“We are working every day to restart the Louisiana economy and we believe that the voters of this state deserve to hear exactly what we’re doing, directly from us, unfiltered,” Cortez said.

Unlike Super PACs and other groups that must disclose who they raise money from, 501(c)(4)s like Leading Louisiana don’t have to disclose their donors. Such “dark money” groups played a significant role in the 2019 governor’s race in Louisiana.

Email Sam Karlin at skarlin@theadvocate.com