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Dinner with Blanco

Posted by Richard on December 14, 2006

This story really cracked me up:

Call it a sign of the times for Louisiana’s embattled governor: A chance to dine with Gov. Kathleen Blanco fetched a winning bid of $1 at a recent fundraising auction hosted by a group of business leaders.

The president of the Monroe Chamber of Commerce, in northeastern Louisiana, said she called Blanco’s office Tuesday to apologize for a "poor joke gone awry."

"It’s something we deeply regret," chamber president Sue Edmunds said Wednesday. "Our organization has worked very well with the governor. We have been pleased with her efforts on behalf of this community."

Dinner with Blanco was the last item up for bid at the fundraising auction last week. Edmunds said the bidding opened at $1,000 and dropped to $500 before the auctioneer accepted a $1 bid from bank executive Malcolm Maddox, a regional chairman for Capital One.

Edmunds went on to claim that lots of other people were ready to bid more, but the auction ended "abruptly," leaving everyone "stunned." Yeah, right. Immediately after the $1 bid, the auctioneer suddenly closed the bidding, turned on his heel, and walked out, leaving throngs of people frantically waving their hands for a chance to dine with the Guv. Nice try, Ms. Edmunds — very diplomatic of you.

My guess is the timeline was more like this: The auctioneer’s request for a $1000 opening bid was met with stone cold silence, followed by a few giggles and titters. The amendment to $500 garnered more of the same. After getting no response despite his cajoling, the auctioneer reluctantly called for a bid of any amount. That’s when he got the $1 bid from the banker, accompanied by much laughter. The auctioneer began trying to coax another bid: "I’ve got $1. Do I hear $100? … Do I hear $10? … Come on, folks, this is the Governor we’re talking about! And the money’s going to a good cause! … Do I hear $2?" Nothing but laughter. Only then was the bidding closed "abruptly."

The winning bidder is no fool, however. After some sober reflection (and maybe some conversations with Capital One higher-ups on Monday), banker Malcom Maddox increased his donation from $1 to $1000. But he’s going to skip the dinner at the Governor’s mansion. The man does have certain standards, after all.

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