Lawmaker who threw dollar bills on House floor calls move a 'joke'

Lawmaker who threw dollar bills on House floor calls move a 'joke'

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Representative Randal Gaines of Laplace called his actions a "joke" after he and three other lawmakers threw money on the House floor during a debate over a sex trafficking bill.

"I was a part of the humor," Gaines said. "Certainly, we went too far with the joke and the humor."

Gaines refused an on-camera and recorded phone interview with FOX 8.

The bill would change the minimum age of an exotic dancer from 18 to 21. The measure is an attempt to protect young women from getting involved in human trafficking.

Opelousas Representative Dustin Miller was also caught on the House camera feed tossing money on the House podium while another representative was speaking. Miller could not be reached for comment.

The other two members who piled up the cash did so out of view of the camera.

"The buying and selling of children is not a joke," Covenant House Executive Director Jim Kelly said.

Kelly worked to create the bill, which would eventually pass the House, but he is concerned how lawmakers took the time to belittle the issue.

"To put dollar bills and to make light of something so serious that involves young women who could easily be some of those elected officials daughters, granddaughters, nieces. This isn't something funny," Kelly said. "We should not be laughing and hooting and hollering and throwing dollar bills on a desk when we're talking about a very critical issue that involves the young and the vulnerable."

"This is insane to treat women like we are a commodity," former Orleans Parish Councilwoman and State Representative Jackie Clarkson said.

She called the piling of cash "horrible" and wants Representative Kenny Havard of Jackson to resign after he amended the bill to include a maximum age of 28 and maximum weight of 160 pounds. Havard later dropped his amendment.

"He is incorrigible, pusillanimous and should resign in my opinion," Clarkson said.

She believes the relationship between men and women lawmakers at the Capitol has gotten worse since her time in office.

"I felt I've found a good ole boys club. It was full of respect, but a total lack of understanding and knowledge of the needs of women and the rights of women, and that has deteriorated which is unacceptable to me," she said.

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