Louisiana GOP legislative leaders create political nonprofit

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FILE – In a Feb. 7, 2020 file photo, Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne, the governor’s chief budget adviser, left; House Speaker Clay Schexnayder, R-Gonzales, center; and Senate President Page Cortez, R-Lafayette, speak ahead of a meeting of Louisiana’s income forecasting panel in Baton Rouge. Louisiana’s income forecasting panel planned to quantify on Monday, May 11, 2020 just how deeply the coronavirus outbreak has hurt the state’s economy as officials begin to put together next year’s budget. (AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte, File)

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana’s Republican legislative leaders Thursday announced they created an outside organization to promote their agenda, months after Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ allies formed a similar type of group.

Senate President Page Cortez and House Speaker Clay Schexnayder launched a political nonprofit called Leading Louisiana, described as focused on economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. It doesn’t have to disclose the donors funding its mission, a type of organization commonly called a “dark money” group.

The group has created a website and will be promoting the legislative leaders’ agenda on social media sites and through other advertising.

“Businesses and families are suffering due to no fault of their own and we’re going to make sure they know exactly what we are doing to get them back on their feet and that we will never turn our back on them,” Schexnayder said in a statement.

The collaboration is unusual between Louisiana’s House and Senate leaders. Traditionally, the chambers’ leadership operate independently, but Cortez and Schexnayder have demonstrated a more united front since winning the jobs in January.

The organization — registered with the state as Leading Louisiana Forward — will be run by Republican political consultant Lionel Rainey.

Edwards’ allies created a similar political nonprofit in February, called A Stronger Louisiana.

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