Last modified on April 8, 2022, at 17:20

Dan Richey

Daniel Wesley "Dan" Richey​​

Louisiana State Representative
for Catahoula, Concordia,
and Tensas parishes
In office
1976 – 1980​​
Preceded by J. C. "Sonny" Gilbert
Succeeded by Lanny Johnson​​

Louisiana State Senator​ for
​Caldwell, Catahoula, Concordia, Franklin, LaSalle, and Tensas parishes
In office
1980​​ – 1984​​
Preceded by ​​James Harvey "Jim" Brown, Jr.
Succeeded by William B. "Billy" Atkins​

Born October 31, 1948​​
Ferriday, Concordia Parish, Louisiana, USA​
Political party Democrat-turned-Independent (1984)-turned Republican​​ (1994)
Spouse(s) ​​Jessie Valcarcel Richey (married 1976)
Children William Victor Richey

Aida Lenn Richey
Joseph Daniel Richey
John Paul Richey

Alma mater Ferriday High School

Louisiana State University
NcNeese State University

Occupation Attorney; Educator; Journalist

Political consultant​

Religion Roman Catholic​​

Daniel Wesley Richey, known as Dan Richey (born October 31, 1948), is a former state legislator and a political consultant in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He advises "pro-family" candidates and organizations, including the Louisiana Family Forum. From 1997 to 2004, Richey served under appointment of Republican Governor Murphy J. "Mike" Foster, Jr., as the director of the federally funded Governor's Program on Abstinence. [1]

Political overview

Richey was a conservative Democratic member of the Louisiana House of Representatives for a single term from 1976 to 1980 and the state Senate from 1980 to 1984. He left the Democrats in 1984 because of the party's stance in encouraging abortions. Richey first became an Independent and in 1994 switched to the GOP, when the party won majorities in the U.S. Congress for the first time since 1952. In 2004, Richey was elected to the Louisiana Republican State Central Committee from state Representative District 61 in East Baton Rouge Parish. He defeated an African-American, Kirt Bennett, in a vote of 102 to 65 in a low-turnout closed primary. Bennett had been an unsuccessful candidate in 2003 for lieutenant governor., a post won instead by Mitch Landrieu. [2] Richey was reelected to the central committee in the primary held on February 9, 2008, when he defeated Cyrus Greco, 414 (57 percent) to 313 (43 percent). [3]


Richey was born into a middle-class family and reared in the Woodland subdivision of Ferriday in Concordia Parish near the Mississippi River. Though its population is less than four thousand, Ferriday is the hometown of some half dozen well-known personalities, including the cousins Jimmy Swaggart and the singer Jerry Lee Lewis. and the television news commentators Howard K. Smith and Campbell Brown.[4]

Richey is one of five children born to Verne Richey (1914–1993) of Beauregard Parish and his wife, the former Johnnie McIntire (1919–1996) of Baton Rouge. After World War II, the Richeys settled in Ferriday because Verne became the business manager for the Concordia Parish School Board. Mrs. Richey was a sixth-grade teacher. Verne and Johnnie Richey are interred at Magnolia Cemetery in Beauregard Parish.

At Ferriday High School, Richey set the school scoring record in basketball. He was the first freshman and four-year starter in the history of the school. He was also first-string All-District for his last three seasons. One of his Ferriday classmates, Rick Nowlin, later served as a Republican in the Louisiana House from Natchitoches and then became the first elected president of the Natchitoches Parish Commission, a post he vacates in 2020.

In 1965, Richey was elected president of the Kiwanis-sponsored Key Club International, a high school service organization. He traveled some 30,000 miles during his senior year to attend Key Club activities and conventions. After high school graduation in 1966, Richey studied for two years at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, at which he was a student senator. He and "Pistol" Pete Maravich were freshmen teammates on the LSU basketball team. In 1968, Richey transferred under a basketball scholarship to McNeese State University in Lake Charles in Calcasieu Parish. He graduated from McNeese in 1971 with a Bachelor of Science degree in business education and a minor in physical education. He continued as a graduate assistant at McNeese while he obtained a master's degree in physical education and a minor in school administration.

In the fall of 1972, Richey entered the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law in New Orleans. In his second year, he was on the undergraduate faculty as an instructor in physical education. He obtained his law degree in 1975.

Election to Louisiana House

A month after he finished law school, Richey announced his candidacy for the District 21 seat in the state House of Representatives. Incumbent J. C. "Sonny" Gilbert of Sicily Island in Catahoula Parish, who would become a state senator, did not seek reelection and supported Richey as his successor. The all-Democratic field included Gilbert's predecessor, then Representative David I. Patten, a construction company owner from Harrisonburg in Catahoula Parish, John Young of Jonesville in Catahoula Parish, and Troyce Guice, a Ferriday businessman originally from St. Joseph in Tensas Parish who then resided in the neighborhood near the Richeys. According to Richey, Guice was the preferred candidate of the Concordia Parish sheriff, and Patten was the choice of the Catahoula Parish sheriff. John Young was the preferred candidate of state Senator James H. "Jim" Brown, of Ferriday, a floor leader for Governor Edwin Edwards and the father of Campbell Brown. Using the slogan "No Strings Attached", Richey ran first in the primary and, with Gilbert's support, defeated Patten in the general election, popularly called the runoff election by a margin of some 57-43 percent.

Election to state Senate

In 1979, Richey won the open state Senate seat previously held by Jim Brown, who was instead elected secretary of state in a contest against Sandra Thompson. The six-parish district had candidates from five parishes – Richey (Concordia), Patten again (Catahoula), State Representative Lanny Johnson (Tensas), Assistant District Attorney Jimmie C. Peters (La Salle), and Democratic National Committeewoman Mary Lou Trawick Winters (1935-2014), a native of Monroe, then living in Columbia in Caldwell Parish with her husband, Dr. Harry Hall Winters, III (1927-2019). Peters' boss and law partner was District Attorney (and former U.S. Representative) Speedy Long of Jena in LaSalle Parish. Peters thereafter became a judge of the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal. No candidate came from Franklin Parish.

Richey recalled that he met in Columbia with former Governor John J. McKeithen, who had been instrumental in Winters's election as national committeewoman. Richey found that the two were "apparently... on the outs... at the time of our election. At one meeting... he suggested that I make a big push with black voters by informing them that 'Mary Lou Winters was a member of not one, but two Lily-white country clubs.' That exact line appeared in campaign letters from me to black voters in the waning days of the election." Richey ran first in the primary and defeated Mrs. Winters in the second balloting, 58-42 percent. Prior to the Senate election, Winters, an LSU graduate, had been the chief lobbyist for the Louisiana State Medical Society, in which capacity she worked pro bono in 1975 to obtain passage of legislation to protect the medical profession against questionable lawsuits. Winters served for thirty-two years on the Democratic National Committee and attended all of the presidential nominating conventions during her tenure. [5] In 1996, Winters was an elector for the reelection of U.S. President Bill Clinton, who carried Louisiana in both of his elections. She was later the vice chairman of her state party.

In 1981, Richey was named "Legislator of the Year" by Young Americans for Freedom and the Louisiana Conservative Union. He was the national secretary of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative group.

Defeat in 1983

In 1983, Richey was unseated by state Representative William B. "Billy" Atkins of Jonesville, when the Democrat Edwin Edwards scored a landslide over incumbent Republican Governor David C. Treen. Atkins had also succeeded Richey in the state House four years earlier. Atkins was succeeded in the House by the later Louisiana Secretary of State, Al Ater, also of Ferriday. Richey said that his close identification with Treen worked against him. Atkins was the choice of powerful Louisiana AFL-CIO President Victor Bussie. "Like my colleague from Alexandria, Ned Randolph (later the mayor of Alexandria from 1986 to 2006), we were ousted in the Edwards wave of 1983. I lost by about the same margin that I had won on the two previous occasions, 57-43 percent," Richey explained.

Earlier, Richey had warned Edwards that the election of Ronald Reagan would mean the appointment of Republican U.S. attorneys, who might launch investigations of the governor and his business and gubernatorial connections: "What better way to protect an incumbent Republican Governor like Dave Treen than by having his chief opponent under investigation or indictment leading up to the 1983 election?" Richey was hence prophetic about the later investigations of Edwin Edwards.

Dan Richey and Woody Jenkins

Richey met his future legislative colleague Louis "Woody" Jenkins of Baton Rouge through their Key Club activities. When Richey ran for international Key Club president, Jenkins managed the campaign. Jenkins was Richey's unofficial "campaign manager" during the three legislative races and was "Best Man" in Richey's wedding on January 4, 1976, to the former Jessie Valcarcel of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Richey supported Jenkins' Democratic campaigns for the U.S. Senate in 1978 and 1980, but Jenkins lost to the popular incumbents, J. Bennett Johnston, Jr., of Shreveport and Russell Long of Baton Rouge. Jenkins, like Richey, switched to Republican registration in 1994. In 1996, Jenkins ran unsuccessfully as a Republican for the Senate against the retiring Johnston's preferred choice, former state Treasurer Mary Landrieu of New Orleans. Many Republicans charged that Landrieu's narrow victory was based on "phantom voters" from Orleans Parish. [1]

In the middle 1980s, Richey served as vice chairman of Friends of the Americas, a non-profit organization founded by Woody Jenkins and his wife, the former Diane Aker. FOA was a "non-political" group which attempted to establish humanitarian programs in Latin America to help the people overcome poverty, natural disasters, or war. The group became a major relief organization with principal operations based in Honduras, along the border with Nicaragua. [1] Jenkins and Richey are members of the conservative think-tank, the Council for National Policy. The group also included until their deaths Nelson Bunker Hunt of Texas, Phyllis Schlafly of Missouri and Paul Weyrich of Washington, D.C. [1]

Equal Rights Amendment

In his freshman year in the legislature, Richey served on the Louisiana House Civil Law Committee that voted "unfavorably" on the unratified Equal Rights Amendment. ERA critics saw the measure as a "federal power grab" that would increase the discretionary powers of federal judges and set aside state laws in regard to the family. Richey worked behind the scenes to convince four fellow committee members - Jock Scott of Alexandria, Michael F. Thompson of Lafayette, A. J. "Buddy" McNamara of Metairie in Jefferson Parish, and Lane Anderson Carson of New Orleans - to withdraw their earlier support for the ERA. The surprise turnaround of the four members, all of whom later switched to Republican affiliation, killed ERA ratification prospects in Louisiana, much to the consternation of feminist backers of the proposed amendment as well as House Speaker E. L. "Bubba" Henry of Jonesboro in Jackson Parish, who thought that he had placed sufficient ERA supporters on the committee.

When the extended deadline for ERA ratification expired, Richey said that the proposed amendment would have been a "radical assault on the Constitution." While the ERA was, in Richey's words, "officially buried," he correctly warned that there would be future battles to "promote a radical social agenda on America." [1]

Other legislative highlights

In his freshman year in office, 1976, Richey worked for passage of the Louisiana right-to-work law, which had been strongly opposed by the AFL-CIO president, Victor Bussie, who for years thereafter called for the repeal of the measure.

In 1978, Richey was elected to the board of directors of the American Legislative Exchange Council and later became the group's national secretary. In 1980, Governor Treen named Richey as the Louisiana chairman of the White House Conference on Families in the Jimmy Carter administration. In the conference, Richey co-authored with Dr. James Dobson, then of Focus on the Family, the panel's minority report. In February 1981, Richey was the first Louisiana elected official to meet in the White House with newly elected President Ronald Reagan, whom he and Jenkins had both endorsed.

Richey and Jenkins were leaders of the movement to legalize home schooling in 1980. The Louisiana Conservative Union named him "Legislator of the Year" in 1979, and the Shreveport-Bossier Pro-Family Forum accorded him similar recognition in 1980.

Jenkins, Richey, Scott, Carson, and Representatives Benjamin Franklin O'Neal, Jr., of Shreveport and E. Clark Gaudin of Baton Rouge formed the Independent Legislative Study Group, an informal mix of conservatives who met daily when the House was in session or when important business was pending before committees. "The ILSG enabled us to maximize our fire power against the Edwards machine. We seldom won, but had a good time setting small fires all over the place," Richey recalled.

Out of politics, 1984-1997

After his legislative years, Richey practiced law from 1984 to 1989 in Vidalia in Concordia Parish, in the firm Koerber and Richey. After five years as a small-town lawyer, Richey abandoned his legal career. Instead, he became the director of development at Magdalen College, a small private institution in Warner, New Hampshire.

After two years in New Hampshire, Richey returned to Louisiana in 1991 as a basketball coach and teacher at South Beauregard High School in Longville in Beauregard Parish, where his parents were then retired. In 1993, he became the news director/commentator at WBTR-TV (Channel 19) in Baton Rouge, an independent station then owned by Jenkins. He left the station to head the Louisiana's Governor's Program on Abstinence (GPA).

Richey recalled that when he graduated, "there was not a single person at Ferriday High School with venereal disease. There were only two out-of-wedlock births, and both girls married the guys." Richey urged parents to emphasize the transmission of disease from premarital sex, rather than only an unwanted pregnancy: "For every one teenager who gets pregnant, ten get a disease." The only way to avoid this, Richey contended, is abstinence until marriage. [1]

The GPA is funded by the federal welfare reform act of 1996. According to Richey, congressional Republicans knew that Clinton would sign the welfare-reform measure; so they attached a bill to create an abstinence-only education program and authorized its funding with $250 million over five years. The Louisiana program was a national model acclaimed by Focus on the Family and other pro-family organizations. [1] The 36-week program stresses awareness of sexuality, education, behavioral changes, and physical and emotional health.

As GPA director, Richey spoke throughout the state to seventh and eighth graders. He warned of the dangers of premarital intercourse: "My generation participated in the absurdity of 'free love' and now everyone is under the absurd notion of 'safe sex' … Condoms were advertised as the ticket to the party. The bottom line is that the so-called 'safe sex' message is the wrong message. It is a lie," Richey said. [1]

Richey's appointment spurred the opposition of liberals because he came from a religious, not a health background. "I am a faith-based guy," asserted Richey "but there's a component of faith in every civilized institution and every law, for that matter." Richey noted that under the federal law, religion could not be included as an essential aspect of the program. [1]

The ACLU sues Governor Foster and Dan Richey

Some workers in the program in Slidell in suburban St. Tammany Parish near New Orleans and in Lafayette, however, incorporated religious-based themes in the instruction. Therefore, the ACLU sued the GPA for violating the First Amendment "establishment clause." Richey pronounced the suit unfounded and without legal merit because he had already corrected the irregularities cited by the ACLU. [1]

After a 2002 hearing, U.S. District Judge Thomas Porteous of Baton Rouge, a Clinton appointee, ordered the abstinence program to halt the allocation of federal funds to organizations or persons who "advance religion in any way in the course of any event supported in whole or in part by GPA funds." [2] Louisiana ACLU director Joe Cook said that Porteous' ruling, which he termed "very well-reasoned, well-written," marked the first successful court challenge to the federal abstinence program. [2]

Governor Foster said that he would take steps to assure that the GPA complied with the law, but he would nevertheless appeal Porteous' decision to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. "I have always made it clear that the courts will not allow the use of state or federal funds to promote religion.... It's a sad day when such a worthwhile program is attacked by the very people who are supposed to protect the interests of the citizens of Louisiana," Foster added. [2] In addition to hosting its own events to promote abstinence, the GPA had then awarded more than $1 million to community groups seeking to promote the same message. Porteous said that the GPA must install an oversight program to monitor the use of its money and to provide written notification to any group that it finds to have misused the funds. [2]

A settlement was reached before the circuit court heard Foster's appeal. The state agreed to require all organizations that received support from the GPA to submit monthly reports verifying that no funds are used to promote religion. GPA officials were also required to conduct quarterly in-person reviews of the organizations that receive funding and to post the following message on its Web site and on promotional materials: "The GPA is a health and education program committed to promoting and publicizing the benefits of abstinence. Under limits imposed by the Constitution, the GPA's funds may not be used for activities, events, or materials that include religious messages or otherwise promote or advance religion." [2] The GPA was first placed in the Office of Public Health. Foster transferred it to his office in July 1997, when he named Richey to head the operation. Richey was replaced in 2004, when the Democrat Kathleen Blanco became governor. She named lifelong Republican, Gail Dignam, to head the GPA. [2]

Richey's family

Richey met his future wife, Jessie, when he was in law school, and she was an undergraduate at Loyola. They have three sons and a daughter: William Victor Richey (born 1977), Aida Lenn Richey (born 1980), Joseph Daniel Richey (born 1986), and John Paul Richey (born 1991). They are members of St. Agnes Parish in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge. Richey's three brothers are all physicians, and his sister is a teacher. [2]

In addition to political consulting, Richey is a blogger who writes on Louisiana politics, culture, and public affairs, usually with a take-no-prisoners approach. He is a former head assistant coach at Hathaway High School in Jennings in Jefferson Davis Parish, at which his son, Joseph Richey, was the head coach.


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19. Finch, Susan; Steve Ritea (2002-07-26). "Judge says religious groups got state abstinence grants - Program ordered to keep closer watch". The Times-Picayune. New Orleans, LA USA. p. B6. A state program to encourage sexual abstinence among adolescents has given money to individuals and groups that promote religion, a practice that violates the U.S. Constitution, a federal judge decided Thursday. Ruling in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, U.S. District Judge G. Thomas Porteous ordered the Governor's Program on Abstinence to stop giving grants to individuals or groups that use the money to convey religious messages "or otherwise advance religion in any way in the course of any event supported in whole or in part" by the program.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
20. Louisiana abstinence money blocked from religious groups
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