Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) Sends Letter to Louisiana Governor on Taxpayer Funds Being Wasted by the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission
Jun 06 2018
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) sent the following letter to Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards regarding the waste of taxpayer money at the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission. The letter, seen below, was also sent to President Donald Trump, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney.
June 5, 2018
The Honorable John Bel Edwards
State of Louisiana
P.O. Box 94004
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70804
Dear Governor Edwards:
I am writing to inquire what you plan to do about the inexcusable waste of taxpayer funds at the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission. An internal audit by the Department of Public Safety revealed problems with overtime, travel expenses, consulting contracts, payroll and the safeguarding of expensive purchases. Do you plan to try to recover any of this money for the taxpayers?
The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission receives nearly $40 million a year in taxpayer funding. The money, 92% of which is federal dollars, is appropriated through House Bill 1. I, along with the rest of the Louisiana delegation, am responsible for ensuring that this money is spent, as intended, on reducing traffic accidents. Louisiana has the second highest number of hit-and-run fatalities per capita in the nation. It is alarming to me that the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission has a history of questionable spending practices and sloppy bookkeeping, not to mention the fact that salaries and benefits consume 86% of its expenditures.
The internal audit found 15 areas of concern. The audit revealed that employees used state funds to buy jazz brunch tickets, accepted Essence Festival tickets in violation of state ethics laws, ignored the bid laws regarding consulting contracts, kept poor payroll records, paid 226.5 hours of overtime to a single employee without any evidence to support the claim, overcharged for expenses, kept sloppy travel records, failed to safeguard public funds and neglected to keep tabs on expensive camera equipment.
The bulk of the problems appear to have occurred under the leadership of Katara Williams, whom you appointed. It is my understanding that Dr. Williams now holds a high-ranking position at Southern University. It is concerning that Dr. Williams continues to be on the public payroll given the management problems at the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission.
If this is how state officials are allowed to spend taxpayer money, then it is no wonder to me that the state is running a budget deficit. Clearly, the state needs to eliminate waste like this before asking taxpayers to pay even more in taxes.
Thank you, Governor, for your consideration of this request.
United States Senator
CC: The Honorable Donald J. Trump, President of the United States
Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao
Jun 05 2018
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R. La) today announced a $45 million Infrastructure For Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant for the Belle Chasse Bridge and Tunnel Replacement project. This project will reinforce an aged concrete tunnel and bridge crossing the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. This project will stimulate industrial growth, improve transportation efficiency in daily commutes and increase hurricane evacuation capacity.
“The Belle Chasse Bridge and Tunnel are in poor condition. The tunnel leaks so much that it’s basically a car wash, and the bridge isn’t much better. Replacing and updating these structures will be a relief to drivers in Plaquemines Parish,” said Sen. Kennedy. “It’s important that we work together at the state and federal levels to modernize and improve the safety of Louisiana’s infrastructure.”
Jun 05 2018
“Citigroup and Bank of America have decided to make banking a red versus blue issue by trampling on the Second Amendment rights of small business owners.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate this afternoon about Bank of America and Citigroup’s anti-Second Amendment policies. On March 22, Citigroup issued a press release detailing how it will penalize banking clients who follow federal, state and local laws. Citigroup’s new policy tells businesses what kind of firearms and accessories they can stock in their stores, and who they can sell them to. On April 10, Bank of America announced that it will no longer loan money to businesses that manufacture semi-automatic rifles.
Click here or the photo below to watch Sen. Kennedy’s full speech.
Red Banks and Blue Banks: “Citigroup and Bank of America have decided to make banking a red versus blue issue by trampling on the Second Amendment rights of small business owners. And if additional big consumer banks come out with similar anti-gun policies, it will get harder and harder for businesses in Louisiana and elsewhere to find banking services. We’ll have red banks and blue banks.”
Big Banks Turn Their Backs On Taxpayers: “Citigroup and Bank of America owe their continued existence to the generosity of the American taxpayer. Both Citigroup and Bank of America are considered by the U.S. government to be ‘systemically important banks.’ That’s why they got bailed out in 2009. They act as a source of credit for households, businesses and local and state governments, and as a source of liquidity for the entire banking system. But that also means that their corporate policies will have ripple effects on every corner of our economy: from consumers and businesses of all sizes to banks and nonbank holding companies.
Sen. Kennedy Protects American Taxpayers: “I want to make sure that the federal government isn’t rewarding this behavior with even more taxpayer dollars. I have already petitioned the General Services Administration to cancel the federal government’s $700 billion contract with Citigroup, and I have urged officials in the state of Louisiana to reevaluate state contracts with any Wall Street Bank that chooses to implement an extralegal policy that infringes on the Second Amendment.”
Big Banks’ Short Memory: “It is offensive that Wall Street banks are taking taxpayer dollars with one hand, and using the other to come after America’s guns. Rather than impose its political agenda on law abiding citizens, these Wall Street banks ought to remember how taxpayers spent billions to bail them out after the 2008 financial crisis. They owe a tremendous debt to the American public. It seems that they have a very short memory.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) issued the following statement this afternoon after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that the traditional August recess will be canceled. Sen. Kennedy had previously joined his Republican Senate colleagues in sending a letter to the Majority Leader calling for August recess to be canceled. A copy of the letter is attached.
“As much as I love being out of Washington, D.C., and back in Louisiana, it’s time to get important work done,” said Sen. Kennedy. “Majority Leader McConnell made the right decision in canceling the August work period. We need to work nights, weekends and holidays to deliver the promises that were made to the American people. That starts with confirming the 264 nominees still waiting, passing all the appropriations bills and fixing the National Flood Insurance Program.”
Sen. Kennedy (R-La.) Urges Louisiana Families to Remain Cautious as Subtropical Storm Alberto Approaches
May 25 2018
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) issued the following statement on Subtropical Storm Alberto:
“As Subtropical Storm Alberto approaches the Gulf of Mexico this weekend, I want to remind Louisianans to keep an eye on the weather as they enjoy Memorial Day weekend, especially if they plan to go fishing in the Gulf,” said Sen. Kennedy. “Even though we here in Louisiana are used to severe weather, that doesn’t mean that this system should be taken lightly. Please make sure you have the necessary precautions in place to stay safe.”
Below are some helpful tips, information and guidelines, provided by FEMA, on how to stay safe and informed.
FEMA encourages individuals and families in the affected areas to continue to monitor local radio or TV stations for updated emergency information and to follow the instructions of state, tribal and local officials. Only enter areas that have sustained damage after local officials have said it is safe to do so.
If you have a National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) flood policy, you may be eligible for reimbursement of actions taken to protect your property. Call your insurance agent to find out more.
To file a flood insurance claim under the NFIP, contact your insurance agent immediately. You can also call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) – select option 2 – to learn more about your policy, and be directed to the appropriate claims resource. Within 24 to 48 hours, an adjuster will call you to schedule an appointment.
Download the FEMA mobile app to set up alerts for the latest weather updates, shelter information, disaster resources, preparedness information and safety tips, in English and in Spanish. The app provides a customizable checklist of emergency supplies, maps of open shelters and recovery centers, disaster survival tips and weather alerts from the National Weather Service. The app also enables users to receive push notifications reminding them to take important steps to prepare their homes and families for disasters.
- We urge all individuals to monitor NOAA Weather Radio and their local news for updates and directions provided by their local officials.
- Be familiar with evacuation routes, have a communications plan, keep a battery-powered radio handy and have a plan for your pets. Visit www.ready.gov or www.listo.gov to learn more about these and other preparedness tips for tropical storms.
- Tropical storms have the potential for tornado formation. If you are under a tornado warning, seek shelter immediately in the center of a small interior room (closet, interior hallway) on the lowest level of a sturdy building. Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside.
- There is the potential for flooding with this storm. Driving through a flooded area can be extremely hazardous and almost half of all flash flood deaths happen in vehicles. When in your car, look out for flooding in low-lying areas, at bridges and at highway dips. As little as six inches of water may cause you to lose control of your vehicle.
- If you encounter flood waters, don’t attempt to pass through water – TURN AROUND, DON’T DROWN. Don’t drive or walk through flood waters. It only takes a small amount of water to move people or vehicles.
- Get to know the terms used to identify tropical storms and discuss with your family what to do if a watch or warning is issued.
- A Tropical Storm Watch is issued when tropical cyclone containing winds of at least 39 MPH or higher poses a possible threat, generally within 48 hours.
- A Tropical Storm Warning is issued when sustained winds of 39 MPH or higher associated with a tropical cyclone are expected in 36 hours or less.
- Get to know the terms used to identify floods and discuss with your family what to do if a flood watch or warning is issued.
o A Flood Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for flooding.
o A Flood Warning is issued when flooding is imminent or occurring.
o A Flash Flood Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for flash flooding.
o A Flash Flood Warning is issued when flash flooding is imminent or occurring.
o A Flash Flood Emergency is issued when severe threat to human life and catastrophic damage from a flash flood is imminent or ongoing.
o A River Flood Watch is issued when river flooding is possible at one or more forecast points along a river.
o A River Flood Warning is issued when river flooding is occurring or imminent at one or more forecast points along a river.
May 25 2018
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) announced today that Scott Patrick Illing has been confirmed to serve as the U.S. marshal for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
“I would like to congratulate Mr. Illing on his confirmation to serve as the U.S. marshal for the Eastern District of Louisiana,” said Sen. Kennedy. “Mr. Illing will oversee one of the most important areas in our state for drug and crime prevention. As a lifelong resident of St. Tammany Parish, a former Louisiana state trooper and a retired investigator for the U.S. Customs Service in New Orleans, he is more than qualified and ready to serve.”
Sen. Kennedy (R-La.) Announces $3.8 Million In FEMA Grants For Ascension and Livingston Parish School Boards
May 25 2018
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R. La) announced $3.8 million in FEMA Public Assistance Grants today to help recover from the devastating flooding in 2016. Ascension Parish School Board will receive $1.2 million in grants to repair 12 buildings and facilities at Galvez Middle School. Livingston Parish School Board will receive $2.6 million in grants to fund emergency protective measures and provide temporary HVAC services to five schools located in Denham Springs.
“I am happy to announce that $3.8 million in funds has been awarded to the Ascension and Livingston Parish School Boards to help rebuild after the flood,” said Sen. Kennedy. “It is important that we work together to ensure that the schools in Louisiana have the means necessary to continue to educate our youth. These funds will go a long way to help our schools recover after the devastating flooding.”
“On behalf of the Ascension Parish School Board, and our community, we are excited to see the restorative project at Galvez Middle School become one step closer to being obligated. Our team has been working with FEMA since the disaster, and we were able to recapture most of our expenses before the mandatory NFIP insurance reductions and our 10% required share. The project is almost complete, and we anticipate the students and faculty will begin the 2018-19 school year in their newly restored campus,” said Ascension Parish Public Schools Superintendent David Alexander. “We are grateful for the support of our congressional and Senate leaders as they continue to fight to reduce the burden of the NFIP reductions, which will reallocate funds back to the classroom, where they belong.”
“This FEMA funding assistance will replace monies previously expended in the recovery of the Livingston Parish School System” said Livingston Parish Public Schools Superintendent Rick Wentzel. “We are appreciative of all of our state congressional delegates with assisting Livingston Parish Public Schools in flood recovery.”
President Trump Thanks Sen. Kennedy for Efforts on the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act
May 24 2018
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) announced today that, S.2155, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, has been signed into law by President Donald Trump. Sen. Kennedy is an original co-sponsor of the legislation. This bill gives desperately needed relief to community banks and credit unions that have been suffering under the burdensome regulations of Dodd-Frank.
President Trump thanked Sen. Kennedy for his efforts on the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act in the Roosevelt Room at the bill signing ceremony.
Sen. Kennedy with President Trump at the bill signing ceremony.
“For almost a decade, community banks and credit unions have been shackled by the tremendous regulatory burden of Dodd-Frank. That’s why bipartisan lawmakers from the House and Senate came together to craft legislation that protects consumers while helping small businesses and rural communities rebuild and grow,” said Sen. Kennedy. “I am proud to be a part of this historic moment, and I am grateful that President Trump has signed our bill into law.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R.-La) today issued the following statement on the now yearlong investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into the possibility of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.
“Thursday (May 17) marked a year since Mr. Mueller began investigating possible interference by Russia in the American political system. It’s time to wrap things up. The investigation is important, but so are many other issues, from which the investigation distracts in time, energy and taxpayer money. We need to stop Iran from exporting terrorism to Iraq, Syria and Yemen. We need to convince North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons. We need to fight Russian President Vladimir Putin’s campaign to destabilize Western democracy. We need to repeal Obamacare and lower the cost of health insurance. We need to help the people of Venezuela regain economic stability and freedom. We need to reform and extend the National Flood Insurance Program for the homeowners and businesses along the Gulf Coast. We need to negotiate better trade deals with China. We need to stop China from stealing American technology. We need to lower the cost of prescription drugs and resolve the opioid addiction crisis. Instead, on many days, we are suspended in an atmosphere of rumors, speculation and innuendo that works against Congress and the American people. Respectfully, Mr. Mueller needs to start winding things down and report his findings to the American people. I trust them to draw their own conclusions about Mr. Mueller’s report.”
Sen. Kennedy Secures Key Louisiana Provisions in the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Package
May 23 2018
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, secured key Louisiana provisions in the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2019, this week.
“Louisiana is a driving force for our nation’s economy, providing seafood, oil and agricultural products to millions around the country and world. Without investments in our infrastructure, Louisiana’s vital industries will not be able to grow and thrive,” said Sen. Kennedy. “I will continue to work with the Army Corps of Engineers and my colleagues in the Senate to make sure that Louisiana’s priorities are fulfilled.”
Army Corps of Engineers - Provides more than $6.9 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers. This is a 45% increase over the President’s budget request of $4.8 billion in funding for the Corps of Engineers. Included in the funding is the following:
- Guidance from the Subcommittee to the Corps to prioritize funding for projects providing, among other benefits, flood and storm damage reduction. This guidance is intended to benefit projects such as the Southeast Louisiana Flood Control project that is commonly known as SELA in the Orleans, Jefferson and St. Tammany parishes region.
- $350 million for the Mississippi River and Tributaries (MR&T) Program. This program provides vital flood risk management and efficient navigation within the Mississippi River system.
- $1.53 billion from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund. In 1986, Congress enacted the Harbor Maintenance Tax to recover operation and maintenance (O&M) costs at U.S. coastal and Great Lakes harbors from maritime shippers. O&M is mostly the dredging of harbor channels to their authorized depths and widths.
Delta Regional Authority- Provides $25 million for the Delta Regional Authority (DRA). The DRA invests in programs that promote the growth of a skilled workforce, support job creation and invest in local and regional infrastructure in the Delta region.
Department of Energy- This bill also provides stable funding for the Department of Energy.
- Includes $4 million to support the U.S.-Israel Center of Excellence. The United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2014 authorized establishment of a joint U.S.-Israel Energy Center to utilize and exchange the experience, knowledge and expertise of universities and businesses to enrich offshore energy development. Louisiana’s offshore energy expertise should provide it the leadership role for the center.