Fargo, Louisiana

We thought we wouldn’t have Sen. David Vitter to kick around anymore? Good lord, this is quite a story. If you know politics, you know you can’t put anything past the novelesque and often delicious nonsense that goes on in Louisiana. But this is good stuff even for the Big Easy and it brings in the mix of malevolence and desperate incompetence of Fargo. Anyway, let’s go to the tape – literally.

Vitter is running for Governor down in Louisiana, the open primary is actually today. But Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand (because of course that would be his name) is a GOP powerbroker in the Greater New Orleans metro region. And he’s not supporting Vitter. And of course Vitter doesn’t like that.

Jefferson County Sheriff Newell Normand

Apparently Normand holds a weekly get together with other political players at a Cafe in Old Metairie once a week to talk political business and gossip – because of course he does. On Friday morning Normand was meeting with his buds when he noticed a kid at the adjoining table – later identified as 30 year old Robert J. Frenzel of Dallas – apparently recording their conversation. Normand asks whether Frenzel was recording their conversation; Frenzel denies it. But of course, Frenzel, rattled, fumbles his iPhone or some similar recording device long enough for Normand to see the recording app open on the screen. A short while later Normand comes back to snap a picture of Frenzel at which point Frenzel bolts out of the Cafe at high speed and makes a run for it – with the Normand political crew in hot pursuit (one imagines, all a generation older than the presumably still spry Frenzel).

Please stop for a moment and try to work up a good visual image of all this in your head. Thank you.

In the process of getting away, or trying to, Frenzel ran through various areas of private property. And remember, Normand is … well, he’s the Sheriff, which means he has his own police force. So he’s really not someone to screw with and when he calls the Sheriff’s Department they’re real responsive. At some point the Normand crew handed off the pursuit/search to five Sheriff’s deputies and in the course of that pursuit, Frenzel “trespassed through at least three or four properties,” according to Sheriff Normand.

Deputies eventually discovered Frenzel hiding behind an AC unit on the 100 block of Stella Street and took him into custody. He was booked on one count of criminal mischief and released. But the Sheriff says they have probable cause to charge Frenzel with eavesdropping. (In Louisiana and many other states, one party to a conversation can surreptitiously record a conversation. But an uninvolved third party cannot.) And he says Vitter was behind it. Frenzel works for this outfit, the Bearden Investigative Agency out of Dallas, Texas.

So does Vitter deny it? Well, not really.

A statement from the Vitter campaign reads: “This person (Frenzel) works for a firm that we hired to do research, all within the bounds of the law. This includes John Bel Edwards’ business associate and major donor, and his relationship with the John Bel Edwards campaign. It has nothing to do with Newell Normand.”

In other words, yes, he works for us. But it’s all good.

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