NEW ORLEANS — Why is a Texas lawyer, who’s under criminal investigation and was essentially banned from doing business in Louisiana, giving a maximum campaign donation to Louisiana’s frontrunner in the governor’s race?
That’s the question being posed in a TV ad by Republican candidate and State Treasurer John Schroder, attacking the GOP standard-bearer for governor, Attorney General Jeff Landry.
The ad focuses on a maximum $5,000 donation given to Landry’s campaign on April 5 by Zach Moseley, who had by that time already been accused by state and federal officials of what the ad calls “the largest insurance fraud in Louisiana history.”
“Landry took campaign money from Moseley, even after he was sanctioned in federal court,” the voiceover says in the ad. “Maybe Moseley is trying to buy a little Landry insurance.”
Moseley’s criminal defense attorneys did not respond to WWL’s questions about why he contributed to Landry’s campaign.
WWL’s “Insured to Lose” investigation laid out the alleged fraud by Moseley’s Houston law firm, McClenny Moseley & Associates, or MMA.
Two federal judges accused MMA of an insurance fraud scheme, in which it signed up thousands of Louisiana storm victims using automated messages, negotiated insurance settlements or filed lawsuits without the clients’ approval and collected millions of dollars in insurance proceeds, without paying the policyholders a dime.
In March, those judges, the state Insurance Department and the Louisiana Supreme Court essentially kicked MMA out of Louisiana.
But a month later, Moseley gave his one and only Louisiana campaign contribution to Landry. Schroder says Landry should have investigated the fraud allegations against Moseley and his Houston-based law firm and done something to stop the scheme. But as WWL has reported, the case is already under investigation by the FBI.
WWL Political Analyst Clancy DuBos said the attorney general doesn’t have “original jurisdiction” that would allow him to investigate such a case without a parish district attorney requesting assistance.
“It looks bad,” Schroder said in an interview. “It erodes the trust that the public should have in their public officials.”
DuBos also said there are still a lot of unanswered questions about the Moseley-Landry connection.
“Did the Landry campaign specifically seek a donation from this guy or did he on his own come give it?” DuBos asked.
Landry’s campaign has received more than $9 million from over 11,000 donors. Campaign spokeswoman Kate Kelly said it’s impossible to screen every one of them. But Schroder said he would “never hide behind the fact that I get so many donations that I don’t know who they are.”
Schroder has received far fewer contributions for a lot less money – about 600 this year, totaling $600,000, according to campaign finance reports.
Kelly said Landry doesn’t know Moseley, has no personal connection to him and never had any business with him. DuBos said that may absolve Landry of blame for taking the donation in April, but not how he handles the calls to return the money.
Kelly declined to answer when asked if Landry plans to give the Moseley donation back.