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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Jack Reed (D-RI) led a bipartisan group of 36 U.S. Senators asking the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate the sale of nearly $2 million in Equifax securities held by high-level Equifax executives shortly after the company learned of a massive cybersecurity breach.

Equifax, a major consumer credit reporting agency, recently disclosed that unauthorized parties had obtained sensitive information, including Social Security numbers, addresses, and driver’s license numbers, for as many as 143 million people.  The breach is believed to have occurred in May and was discovered internally by Equifax in late July.  Within days of Equifax’s internal discovery of the breach, three top level Equifax executives — the Chief Financial Officer; the President of U.S. Information Solutions; and the President of Workforce Solutions — sold large amounts of their shares of Equifax stock, though its customers and the public were not notified until September 7.

Equifax has stated that the three executives were not notified of the breach when they sold shares and exercised options.

 

Full text of the letter follows:

 

September 12, 2017

 

Dear Chairman Clayton, Attorney General Sessions, and Acting Chairman Ohlhausen:

We write to request that the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Department of Justice, and the Federal Trade Commission investigate disturbing reports that senior Equifax executives sold more than $1.5 million in Equifax securities within days of a cybersecurity breach that may have compromised the personal information, including Social Security numbers, of as many as 143 million Americans.  In addition, there are reports that Equifax “also lost control of an unspecified number of driver’s license numbers, along with the credit card numbers for 209,000 consumers and credit dispute documents for 182,000.”

As part of your investigations, we request that you conduct a thorough examination of any unusual trading, including any atypical options trading, for violations of insider trading law.  To the extent that your investigations uncover any information regarding whether Equifax management employed reasonable measures to ensure the security of the now compromised data prior to this cyber breach, we would appreciate your sharing these details.   

We request that you spare no effort in your investigations and in enforcing the law to the fullest extent against anyone who is found to be at fault. 

We thank you for your consideration, and we request periodic updates on your progress.

Sincerely,

Senators Baldwin, Blumenthal, Booker, Brown, Casey, Collins, Cortez Masto, Donnelly, Durbin, Feinstein, Gillibrand, Harris, Hassan, Heitkamp, Heller, Kennedy, King, Klobuchar, Leahy, Manchin, Markey, McCaskill, Menendez, Merkley, Murray, Reed, Sanders, Schatz, Shaheen, Tester, Udall, Van Hollen, Warner, Warren, Whitehouse, and Wyden.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) in the Senate Appropriations Committee today voted in favor of the State and Foreign Operations bill and Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill that promote religious freedom, invest in charter schools and curtail government waste while maximizing taxpayer dollars.

“We were able to fund charter schools, veterans training, Alzheimer’s disease research, the fight against opioid abuse and other key initiatives and still spend $800 million less in total discretionary funding than FY2017,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “We are being careful stewards of taxpayer dollars while still funding what needs to be funded.  It’s all about setting priorities.”

Key Provisions Included in State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill:

Total cost: $51.3 billion; $6.18 billion cut from FY17 Omnibus package

  • Supports Israel - $3.1 billion for military aid for Israel, $7.5 million for refugees resettling in Israel; and continues restrictions on the United Nations Human Rights Council.
  • Promotes and Protects International Religious Freedom – $25 million for programs to promote international religious freedom.
  • Protects Life – The bill prohibits U.S. assistance for foreign nongovernmental organizations that promote or perform abortions.

Key Provisions Included in Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill:

  • Alzheimer’s Funding- $1.8 billion has been allocated for Alzheimer’s disease research through the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
  • Opioid Epidemic- $816 million, a 440% increase in funding to combat opioid abuse at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). 
  • Charter Schools – $367 million, a $25 million increase above FY2017 Omnibus, to support the startup, replication, and expansion of high-quality charter schools. 
  • Fiscal Stability for Social Security- Money to prevent improper Social Security payments which will help save taxpayers $9,828,000,000 over 10 years.
  • Program Eliminations – The bill focuses funding on programs that are efficient, cost-effective, with proven outcomes.  The Committee recommendation includes six program eliminations, equating to over $152 million in spending reductions.  Over the past three years, the Labor-HHS bill has eliminated or consolidated 36 programs.
  • Institute for Museum and Library Services- $235 million, a $4 million increase above FY2017 Omnibus.  The National WWII Museum in New Orleans will be eligible to qualify for grants provided by this agency.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today voted to appropriate $15.25 billion in emergency supplemental funds to replenish the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) and fund additional disaster aid.  This funding will ensure that assistance is in place for communities dealing with hurricanes and other disasters, and it will help Texas grapple with Hurricane Harvey.

“My heart goes out to Texas as it copes with Hurricane Harvey’s devastating aftermath.  We in Louisiana have not forgotten about the help we received after Hurricane Katrina hit 12 years ago,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “When your neighbor’s house is on fire, you rush in with your hose and ladder.  You don’t just stand there and watch their house burn.”  

Sen. Kennedy also voted in favor of a three month extension for the National Flood Insurance Program.  The program was set to expire Sept. 30.

“This short-term NFIP extension prevents a lapse in coverage during hurricane season.  This coverage is essential for Louisiana,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “Policyholders need to be able to afford their flood insurance, and they deserve the long-term certainty that I will continue working to provide.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation is awarding $9,297,973 to the Alexandria International Airport for noise mitigation efforts.

“I am pleased to announce that the Department of Transportation has allocated more than $9 million to help insulate the noise produced by the Alexandria International Airport,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “This money will help improve the lives of residents in the area.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today announced that FEMA has agreed to give victims of the August 2016 flooding more time to file Proof of Loss (POL) claims with the National Flood Insurance Program.  Flood insurance policy holders now will have until Dec. 31, 2017, to file their claims. The previous deadline was Sept. 1.

“This is great news for the people of Louisiana who were affected by the August 2016 flooding,” said Sen. Kennedy. “It’s important to give flood victims as much time as possible to work with contractors and determine their losses.  I want to thank FEMA for giving insurance policy holders a little more time.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) and staff from the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship met in Youngsville, LA., today to identify issues that are impeding the economic growth of farmers, shrimpers and small business owners in Acadiana.

Sen. Kennedy heard from Bill Dore, vice president of Supreme Rice, Michael Comb, general manager for Louisiana Sugar Cane Cooperative, Angela Portier, owner and operator of Faith Family Shrimp, Heidi Melancon, director of the Louisiana Small Business Development Center at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and Joseph A. Laroski, senior adviser of policy in the Office of the Under Secretary for International Trade at the International Trade Administration.

“I want to thank Chairman Jim Risch and ranking member Jeanne Shaheen for allowing me to take the committee on the road to Youngsville,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “Louisiana was founded by farmers and fishermen.  Today, there are 28,000 farms and a $2.4 billion seafood industry in Louisiana.  We want to know what challenges they are facing so that we can eliminate them and help families prosper.”

U.S. Sen. John Kennedy at the Small Business Field Hearing in Youngsville, La.

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today announced a $26,114,094 grant through the U.S. Department of Transportation that will help fund a new terminal at New Orleans’ Louis Armstrong International Airport. Efforts are under way to update and improve the airport.

“This money will help New Orleans’ Louis Armstrong International Airport move forward to meet the demands of tourists as well as residents,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “As Louisiana’s tourism industry continues to grow, it is essential that we have the infrastructure in place to accommodate the increased number of visitors to our state.  We also need to help residents get to destinations across the globe.”

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the total amount of the grant is $26,114,094.  These funds are to be used to help construct the new terminal’s apron.  This will fund the final phase of the apron construction.  The apron is the area of concrete in between the runway and the physical terminal.

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BATON ROUGE- U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) toured flood recovery efforts in the Baton Rouge area today with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson.  Sec. Carson was invited to Louisiana by Sen. Kennedy to visit areas of Louisiana that were impacted by the historic flooding a year ago.

“I would like to thank Sec. Carson and his wife, Candy, for accepting my invitation to come down to Louisiana to tour the flood damage and witness firsthand the efforts being made by local, state, and federal officials to recover, fully, from the devastating flood last year,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “It is imperative that we continue to work together, both at the local and national level, to make sure our communities have every avenue available to rebuild stronger than ever.”

Sen. Kennedy pictured with Sec. Carson, his wife Candy, and Rep. Garret Graves at FEMA’s regional recovery office.

 

WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) issued the following statement today about the anniversary of the devastating floods that hit Louisiana a year ago:

“The August 2016 floods were unprecedented and catastrophic.  Many people fled the floodwaters with just the clothes on their back.  They lost everything, from their homes to their family photo albums,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “The entire Louisiana delegation has worked hard to help our homeowners and business owners rebuild.  I know that there continue to be struggles, but I am hopeful that we are well on the road to recovery.”

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WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today asked East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome for further details on how federal tax dollars addressed violence among juveniles in Baton Rouge’s most crime-ridden zip codes.  His letter was in response to a report that the mayor-president released on the Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination (BRAVE) program.

“Only 63 youths in Baton Rouge appear to have benefitted from $2 million in BRAVE expenditures between 2012 and 2016, according to media reports,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “We could have bought each kid a car with that much money.  Where did the money go?  How was each kid’s life improved?  These are serious questions that need to be addressed, especially considering that part of the money was spent on a public relations consultant and a cosmetology expert.”

 

Text of the letter:

 

August 9, 2017

The Honorable Sharon Weston Broome

East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President

222 Saint Louis St.

3rd Floor

Baton Rouge, LA. 70802

 

Dear Mayor-President Broome:

I recently wrote to you about the expenditure of federal taxpayer money in the Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination (BRAVE) program.  After reading the report you just released, I remain concerned.

 

BRAVE funds are supposed to be used to address violent juvenile crime in the 70805 and 70802 zip codes of Baton Rouge.  Only 63 youths in Baton Rouge appear to have benefitted from $2 million in BRAVE expenditures between 2012 and 2016, according to media reports.

 

By my math, that’s more than $30,000 per youth.  Please explain in detail how this money was spent, how the City-Parish is measuring the degree to which these kids were helped and the status of each juvenile today.   

 

I also continue to have concerns about the “expedited” contracts entered into in order to hurriedly spend some of the remaining grant money.  I believe there needs to be a complete accounting.  Who selected these consultants?  What process did your administration use to select them?  Were other competing proposals and consultants considered?  Did you use a competitive selection process?  How was each consulting contract amount determined?  What formal process is in place to measure the results of these consultants?  What metrics were part of that process?  Why does the program need a public relations consultant?  Why does the program need a cosmetology expert given the short amount of time remaining before the grant expired? 

 

Crime is an ever-growing problem in Baton Rouge, and our young people are caught in the crosshairs of it.  Our law enforcement need every resource we can give them to fight crime and to help our young people.  Our community officials and our taxpayers deserve answers on how the $2 million of BRAVE money was spent while helping only 63 of our kids.

 

Thank you in advance for your prompt response.

 

                                                                        Sincerely,

 

 

                                                                        John Kennedy

                                                                        U.S. Senator

 

 

 

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