And now, in response, Odom is demanding that Landry give him his money back and is “urg[ing] the voters of Louisiana to reject Landry at the polls.”
Odom, a construction company executive who made over $100,000 in federal donations to Republican-aligned candidates and groups in the 2022 midterm election, has deeply personal reasons for his dislike of Lewandowski. In 2021, Odom’s then-wife, Trashelle Odom, alleged that Lewandowski made unwanted sexual advances toward her at a Las Vegas charity dinner in September 2021.
Lewandowski was later charged with misdemeanor battery, and in September 2022 he cut a plea deal with Nevada prosecutors. Under the deal, the political strategist agreed to pay a $1,000 fine, undergo impulse control training, serve 50 hours of community service and stay out of trouble for a year. In exchange, Lewandowski would not have to admit guilt.
Along the way, Lewandowski remained active in Republican politics, advising several candidates during the 2022 midterms. Landry’s campaign has paid Lewandowski $100,000 ahead of the Oct. 14 primary, according to state finance records. The payments were first reported this past week by the Louisiana Illuminator.
For John Odom, this was too much. In a statement to POLITICO, he said that he was “deeply disappointed and disgusted by Jeff Landry’s decision to hire Corey Lewandowski.”
Odom said Lewandowski was “unfit to serve in any capacity in any political campaign,” and added: “I urge Landry to reconsider his decision.”
Odom asked Landry, who has served as Louisiana’s attorney general since 2016, to “immediately” return his contribution and said it was “obvious that he is not the kind of leader that Louisiana needs.”
A Landry spokesperson, Kate Kelly, declined to say whether the campaign planned to return Odom’s donation.
“Our campaign has over 11,000 donors from every corner of Louisiana. People contribute to us because they are tired of the broken system in Baton Rouge,” Kelly said in a statement. “We appreciate all of the support and are looking forward to working to make Louisiana Great Again.”
A representative for Trashelle Odom, unsolicited, sent a statement from her in which she said she supported Landry and encouraged him to keep the money, half of which she claimed was hers.
“Jeff Landry is not just my friend but I believe he has been the strongest Attorney General in America,” Trashelle Odom said in the statement. “He has protected children and fought for our individual rights. Jeff truly has my full and complete support for governor of the state of Louisiana.”
Lewandowski, in a text, made note that more than a decade ago Odom pleaded guilty to issuing checks without funds and was also arrested in Louisiana for violation for “Misapplication of Payment by Contracts.” He was accused by Suzanne Craig, then the chief criminal deputy prosecutor in Twin Falls, Idaho, of being a “charismatic con artist” who moved to Louisiana to take advantage of natural disaster victims there.
“I won’t dignify Mr. Odom with a response,” he added “I will allow the words of Suzanne Craig, chief criminal deputy prosecutor to speak for itself.”
Odom, in response, offered the following remark: “Funny. I wasn’t such a bad guy when Landry accepted my $100,000 contribution.”
Lewandowski himself has faced allegations of abuse against women and assault before. In 2016, he was charged with battery after he grabbed the arm of reporter Michelle Fields during a campaign event. The charges, which Lewandowski originally denied (though video emerged largely supporting them) were later dropped. In 2017, singer Joy Villa filed a police report against Lewandowski in which she alleged that he slapped her on the butt twice during a holiday party at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.
Odom made the $100,000 donation to Landry (split between his campaign account and political action committee) in September 2021, according to state finance records. The money came through his Idaho-based company, HMH Construction. Landry was state attorney general at the time, though speculation was already swirling about a potential run for higher office.
During the Las Vegas charity dinner the same month as the check was issued, Trashelle Odom accused Lewandowski of touching her, including on her legs and butt. She said Lewandowski told her that she had a “nice ass,” “stalked” her throughout the hotel where the dinner took place and threw a drink at her. (John Odom was not present during the alleged incident. The Odoms have since divorced.)
After the allegations surfaced, a Trump spokesperson said Lewandowski “will no longer be associated with Trump world.” Republican South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem also dropped Lewandowksi, who she had worked closely with. But the two are appear to be working together again.
Louisiana has a unique election process for governor, with a jungle primary followed by a runoff election on Nov. 18. Landry is seen as likely to emerge from that first vote, as he has statewide name ID, the endorsement of the Louisiana Republican Party and the backing of Trump. Should he clear 50 percent on that first ballot he will win the seat outright.
The state’s current governor, Democrat John Bel Edwards, is term limited after serving two terms.