Heulette Fontenot

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Heulette Clovance "Clo" Fontenot, Jr.
Louisiana State Representative from District 71 (Livingston Parish)
In office
1996–2000
Preceded by Bernard E. Carrier
Succeeded by Dale M. Erdey[1]
Louisiana State Senator from District 13 (Livingston and East Baton Rouge parishes)
In office
2000–2008
Preceded by Mike Branch
Succeeded by Dale M. Erdey
Personal details
Born (1961-07-14) July 14, 1961 (age 52)
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Gail Marie Lebourgeois Fontenot
Children Two children
Parents Heulette and Myrle Fontenot
Residence Livingston, Livingston Parish, Louisiana, USA
Alma mater Louisiana State University
Occupation Operations supervisor for Exxon
Religion Baptist
(1) A member of the Christian Coalition, Fontenot was considered among the most conservative members of the Louisiana State Legislature during the administrations of Governors Mike Foster and Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, having sponsored legislation to restrict gay rights in the state.

(2) Fontenot's legislation to prevent state officials from forcing persons fleeing from emergencies to abandon their pets was approved in both houses of the Louisiana State Legislature without a single dissent.<br?

(3) Fontenot was also an economic conservative duriing his legislative career, having opposed minimum wage laws at the state level.

Heulette Clovance Fontenot, Jr., known as Clo Fontenot (born July 14, 1961), is a Livingston, Louisiana, businessman who served as a Republican member of both houses of the Louisiana State Legislature between 1996 and 2008. He was a one-term member of the House of Representatives from 1996 to 2000 and served two terms thereafter in the State Senate from 2000 to 2008. He did not seek a third consecutive term in Senate District 13, which encompasses his own Livingston Parish and a portion of populous East Baton Rouge Parish. Senator Fontenot was the author of the 2006 Pet Evaucation Act, passed amid shocking reports of numerous animals having been abandoned during the aftermath of deadly Hurricane Katrina.[2]

Background[edit]

Fontenot is the son of Heulette Fontenot, Sr. (born June 25, 1930), and the former Myrle Bennett (born June 17, 1926). The couple married in 1952; upon their deaths, they will be interred at Red Oak Cemetery in Livingston Parish.[3]

At the time of his election to the state House, Fontenot was an operations supervisor for Exxon. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.[4] He served two terms as an alderman in his community of Livingston prior to his legislative career. First elected on October 1, 1988, to the District A town council seat, Fontenot defeated a Democrat, Richard Rayborn, 265 (74 percent) to 92 (26 percent). For seven years, he was the lone Republican on the town council and ran without opposition in 1992.[5]

Fontenot is Baptist and a member of the interfaith Christian Coalition, founded in 1989 by the Virginia evangelist Pat Robertson. He is married to the former Gail Marie Lebourgeois (born ca. 1963), and the couple has two children. He is affiliated with the Kiwanis International and was an Eagle Scout of Troop 80 with the Boy Scouts of America in Livingston Louisiana.[4]

Legislative elections[edit]

Fontenot won the District 71 House seat in the nonpartisan blanket primary held on October 21, 1995, having narrowly unseated the two-term Democratic incumbent, Bernard E. Carrier (born 1927) of Denham Springs in Livingston Parish. Fontenot polled 8,312 votes (51.7 percent) to Carrier's 7,776 ballots (48.3 percent).[6] Carrier was first elected over Richard Rayborn in the general election held on November 21, 1987, and then ran unopposed in 1991.[7] During the 1990s, the complexion of District 71 shifted strongly from historically Democrat to GOP allegiance.

Fontenot was first elected to the District 13 Senate seat in the primary held on October 23, 1999. The incumbent Republican, Mike Branch, did not seek reelection in the conservative district. Branch's predecessor, Mike Cross, a Democrat had in 1990 written the anti-abortion bill which garnered national attention and was vetoed by then Governor Buddy Roemer.[8] To claim the Senate seat, Fontenot hence defeated another Republican, Joseph "Joe" Greco, 27,328 votes (70.3 percent) to 11,561 (29.7 percent), as no Democrat filed for the position.[9] Fontenot was unopposed in the 2003 senatorial primary. In 2008, fellow Republican Dale M. Erdey, a former Democratic mayor of Livingston whose service coincided with Fontenot's aldermanic terms, succeeded Fontenot in the Senate. Erdey had also succeeded Fontenot in the House in 2000.

Fontenot did not run for reelection to the Senate in 2007 because his employer questioned whether further senatorial service, possibly in the leadership, would infringe on his job duties in the chemical industry.[10]

Other political activity[edit]

In 2000, Fontenot was the 6th Congressional District presidential elector for Republican nominees George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney.[11]

In 2001, Fontenot authored legislation limiting the scope of gay rights in Louisiana. His Senate Bill 232 prevents the state from recognizing "domestic partnerships or similar relationships" between same-sex couples. According to Fontenot, domestic partnerships "extend the rights and privileges of marriage."[12] The bill forbids the state from recognizing such partnerships accepted in other states. Fontenot said that he opposes the use of state taxpayer money to finance public employees' insurance programs that would cover same-sex arrangements. The Fontenot bill drew strong opposition from the interest group, the American Civil Liberties Union, which declared the legislation a violation of full faith and credit in Article IV of the Constitution of the United States.[12]

In 2002, Fontenot supported legislative colleague Tony Perkins of Baton Rouge for the United States Senate seat held and won again by the Democrat Mary Landrieu of New Orleans. Perkins later became president of the Family Research Council, a position formerly held by Gary Bauer, an unsuccessful candidate for the 2000 Republican presidential nomination.[13]

In 2006, Senator Fontenot opposed a measure to raise the minimum wage for Louisiana state employees incrementally to $6.15 an hour by October 1, 2007. The bill also would have required that if the U.S. Congress raised the federal minimum wage, then state employees would receive the higher federal minimum wage. The measure died in the Senate. Even Walter Boasso, a Republican state senator from south Louisiana who the next year switched parties to run for governor against Bobby Jindal, voted against the minimum wage bill.[14]

Pet evacuation[edit]

Fontenot took the lead in passage of the Pet Evacuation Act. He issued a statement of the importance of the legislation: ""I felt we were derelict in our duties to the citizens of Louisiana, because we didn't make arrangements for pets. A lot of people refused to evacuate because they weren't going to leave their pets behind."[2] The Fontenot legislation requires state and parish homeland security and emergency preparedness agencies "to consult with experts in the fields of animal sheltering, veterinary medicine, public health and safety, and other professional and technical personnel deemed appropriate to formulate emergency operation plans for the humane evacuation, transport, and temporary sheltering of service animals and household pets in times of emergency or disaster."[15] In New Orleans alone, approximately sixteen thousand animals were recovered but fewer than three thousand were reunited with their owners.[2] Large public gatherings met in Baton Rouge on April 17 and 18, 2006, to support the legislation.[2] The legislature promptly passed the bill without opposition in either house. It is onsidered the most sweeping of its kind in the nation.[16]

Fontenot produced his own documentary entitled "Animal Rescue Katrina", directed by Josef Dykas. The film features animal rescuers and shelter volunteers during the hurricane evacuations in New Orleans and Mississippi. Fontenot also appears as himself in the documentary.[17]

Indictment[edit]

On May 6, 2010, Fontenot was indicted for having allegedly accepted a cash campaign loan of $100,000 in 1999 from two unnamed businessmen. The U.S. government maintains that Fontenot concealed the existence of that debt when he applied for home loans from federally insured lenders in 2001 and 2004.[18]

Fontenot's attorney, Lewis O. Unglesby, said "There was no ethics violation. More importantly, there was no banking loss. Those loans were paid off years ago. It's pathetic. And he [Fontenot] is going to win." However, Fontenot admitted taking the money, burning the bag in his back yard and hiding the money in his attic, according to the Baton Rouge Advocate.[18]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Louisiana election returns, October 23, 1999". sos.louisiana.gov. Retrieved October 23, 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Never Again: Louisiana Pet Evacuation Bill Provides for People and Pets in a Disaster". kinshipcircle.org. Retrieved October 23, 2009. 
  3. ^ "Red Oak Cemetery burials". usgwarchives.net. Retrieved October 23, 2009. 
  4. ^ a b Louisiana Encyclopedia (1999), on-line: "Louisiana House District 71"
  5. ^ "Louisiana election returns, October 1, 1988". sos.louisiana.gov. Retrieved October 23, 2009. [dead link]
  6. ^ "Louisiana election returns, October 21, 1995". sos.louisiana.gov. Retrieved October 23, 2009. [dead link]
  7. ^ "Louisiana election returns, November 21, 1987". Retrieved October 23, 2009. [dead link]
  8. ^ Garry Boulard (July 8, 1990). "Abortion Bill Veto Override in Louisiana Fails". The Los Angeles Times (latimes.com). Retrieved October 23, 2009. 
  9. ^ "Louisiana election returns, October 23, 1999". sos.louisiana.gov. Retrieved October 23, 2009. [dead link]
  10. ^ "Senator Dale M. Erdey". louisianagovernmentalstudies.com. Retrieved August 31, 2011. 
  11. ^ "U.S. presidential electors, 2000". archives.gov. Retrieved October 23, 2009. 
  12. ^ a b "Louisiana Bill Would Ban Domestic Partner Benefits". ambushmag.com. Retrieved October 23, 2009. 
  13. ^ "Livingston, Louisiana Political Contributions by Individuals". city-data.com. Retrieved October 23, 2009. 
  14. ^ "Minimum Wage for State Employees". votesmart.org. Retrieved October 23, 2009. 
  15. ^ "SENATE BILL NO. 607". Louisiana state senate. 2006. Retrieved 2009-10-29. 
  16. ^ "John Gramlich, "Legislators help pets in disasters". stateline.org. Retrieved October 23, 2009. 
  17. ^ "Animal Rescue Katrina". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved October 23, 2009. 
  18. ^ a b "Bill Lodge, "Attorney: Ex-senator to beat fed charges"". Baton Rouge Morning Advocate, May 8, 2010. Retrieved May 8, 2010. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Mike Branch
Louisiana State Senator from District 13 (Livingston and East Baton Rouge parishes)

Heulette Clovance "Clo" Fontenot, Jr.
2000–2008

Succeeded by
Dale M. Erdey
Preceded by
Bernard E. Carrier
Louisiana State Representative from District 71 (Livingston Parish)

Heulette Clovance "Clo" Fontenot, Jr.
1996–2000

Succeeded by
Dale M. Erdey