Louisiana Public Broadcasting’s ‘War Room’ is ‘the most powerful lobbying machine’ in state — and it’s not limited to Louisiana

The public broadcaster that helped craft the Louisiana state constitution, and the state’s GOP leadership, is the most powerful lobbyist in the state, according to new reports from The Hill.

The Louisiana Public Media Group, which provides public-service journalism in Louisiana, is currently operating its own office in the Capitol, a position that requires its members to sign a document giving them “special access to legislative bodies, agencies and staff,” according to the report.

This means it is essentially the public-relations arm of state government, and it is “unquestionably” the largest outside group in the Legislature, according the report’s authors, David Schoen and Michael Haney.

The group’s legislative director, James T. Stroud, told The Hill that his job is to push for what he called the “best interest of Louisiana and the American people,” and that his role includes working with lawmakers to get a bill passed, or to craft the “legal basis for a law that is needed to address specific problems.”

“Our goal is to be a force for good, not just for ourselves, but for the public as a whole,” Stroud said.

“We have a mission to serve the public.”

Stroud said the group’s “legislative staff” is “super-talented” and has “great relationships” with “many elected officials,” and he added that “every day that we work together we make progress in a positive way.”

Stroustroud, a former state representative from Lafayette, did not respond to a request for comment about the new reports.

The public-media group’s lobbying arm, the Louisiana Public Broadcast Committee, has also received nearly $7.2 million from the state since 2015, according a public records request, which The Hill previously reported on.

That includes a $1.8 million grant from the Louisiana Department of Commerce in 2017 that was part of a $500,000 grant that came in for an additional $1 million in 2018.

The committee has also secured more than $1 billion in taxpayer money to operate Louisiana Public Radio, which is responsible for providing “quality, timely, and relevant” public-radio programming.