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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) told U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue in a letter that he will block the confirmation of department nominees until the USDA stops interfering with a program that protects Louisiana’s small refineries from financial devastation.

At issue are hardship waivers – called Small Refinery Exemptions – that give small refineries in Louisiana the ability to remain competitive against larger companies and further President Donald Trump’s initiative for the U.S. to be energy independent.  The USDA is reportedly involved in efforts to interfere with the Small Refinery Exemption program. Earlier this week, Sen. Kennedy joined other Republican senators in urging Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler to continue issuing the exemptions despite pressure from Democrats and special interest groups.

“Our nation’s refineries are economic engines that create jobs and support our mission to achieve energy independence.  The exemptions exist for a reason.  They are necessary to keep small refineries in business and protect tens of thousands of jobs across the U.S.,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “With all due respect, Secretary Perdue needs to stay out of this fight.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, announced today a $4 million grant for Louisiana to provide childhood immunizations.

In 2018, only 70% of Louisiana children under three years of age received their recommended vaccinations.  The percentage was even lower for children below the poverty level.

“Preventive measures like vaccinations help keep our kids healthy and our communities safe from harmful diseases,” said Sen. Kennedy. “This grant will allow Louisiana to provide important immunizations.”

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) issued the following statement today on the Senate passage of fiscal year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act by a vote of 86-8:

“This defense spending package will provide billions of dollars to support our great men and women in uniform,” said Sen. Kennedy. “It raises our troops’ pay by 3.1%, and they deserve every penny.  It will allow us to better prepare for any threats to our national security.  When we’re dealing with rogue regimes like Iran and North Korea, it’s easier to sleep at night knowing that our military is fully funded and equipped to respond to any possible threats.”  

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Pat Toomey (R-Penn.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) today urged Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler to support small refineries across America by continuing to issue Small Refinery Exemptions (SREs).

Recently 12 Senate Democrats sent a letter to Administrator Wheeler urging the agency to stop issuing SREs.  These exemptions give small refineries in Louisiana the ability to remain competitive against larger companies and further President Trump’s initiative for the U.S. to be energy independent.  Small refineries across America provide thousands of jobs and help the U.S. be global energy leader.

“I’ve urged Administrator Wheeler to support our nation’s refineries and preserve jobs by continuing to grant justified exemptions in accordance with the law,” said Sen. Kennedy. “The energy industry is essential to Louisiana’s economy and this nation’s energy independence.  The biofuel industry wants to rewrite the rules and force refineries out of business.  That would kill jobs across Louisiana.”

“Under the Trump administration’s energy independent agenda, we’ve seen new investments bring billions to our country and create good-paying jobs for Louisiana refinery workers,” said Dr. Cassidy. “We need to continue our effort to unleash American energy dominance, our independent refiners depend on it.”

“I urge Administrator Wheeler and the administration to stand with hardworking refinery workers across this country and continue enacting policies that promote greater energy independence,” said Sen. Cruz. “Under President Trump’s leadership, America is now the number one energy producer in the world. Not only do these Democrats want to roll that back, four of them want to end oil production in this country all together.  It is important to refinery workers across the country that these 12 Democrats do not undermine America’s energy renaissance, and set the administration’s policy on Small Refinery Exemptions. During his confirmation process, Administrator Wheeler expressed his commitment to following the law and continuing the legally required granting of SREs to those small refineries that qualify.  It is my hope that Administrator Wheeler will uphold the rule of law and President Trump’s promise to the thousands of blue collar workers whose jobs depend on reducing federal compliance costs for our nation’s independent refiners.”

“The Trump administration must protect America’s small refineries,” said Sen. Barrasso. “The Clean Air Act requires EPA to grant relief to any small refinery that suffers disproportionate economic hardship from the Renewable Fuel Standard. Under the Obama administration, EPA ignored the law and federal courts rebuked the agency. President Trump and Administrator Wheeler understand the important role small refineries play in keeping America energy dominant. We should all stand with small refineries and the communities they support.”

 “Energy independence and sticking by the hardworking men and women who make that possible is incredibly important to Americans—I know it’s important to those who work in the oil and gas industry in Oklahoma and their families,” said Sen. Inhofe. “Some of the same Democrats who cosponsored the far-fetched, radical Green New Deal that would eliminate more than 170,000 refining jobs are now urging Administrator Wheeler to ignore the law and take steps to further harm an industry that keeps America running. I know Administrator Wheeler sees this effort for what it is – another attack on fossil fuels and I urge him today to stand by the men and women who work hard every day in small refineries across the United States. I know he will.”

“Refineries provide family sustaining wages to thousands of Pennsylvania workers,” said Sen. Toomey. “EPA and the courts have made clear that waivers must be issued to refineries suffering severe economic harm from the ill-conceived corn ethanol mandate. The waivers simply diminish the burden of this terrible mandate on the refineries least able to afford it, and therefore allow them to continue doing business. With this in mind, Administrator Wheeler and President Trump should continue working to bolster our flourishing energy sector, not undermine it.”

“Small refineries are an important part of our nation’s energy infrastructure, employing thousands across our country and helping the U.S. maintain its leadership in energy production. The 12 Democrats that signed onto this letter have ignored the important economic role that oil production plays in driving our economy, particularly in rural areas.  I urge EPA Administrator Wheeler to stand by his promises to our nation’s small refiners and follow the intent of Congress to provide much-needed regulatory relief from the onerous requirements of the RFS program,” said Sen. Wicker.

“Not only does oil production provide good paying jobs to thousands of hard working Americans, but under President Trump’s energy dominance agenda the United States has become the world’s top energy producer,” said Sen. Lee. “I urge Administrator Wheeler to follow the law and uphold his commitment to continue granting waivers to small refineries that need regulatory relief to keep energy prices low and energy employment high.”

“Wyoming is at the front and center of America’s energy revitalization, and it’s due in part to President Trump and Administrator Wheeler’s commitment to our nation’s energy independence,” said Sen. Enzi. “Small Refinery Exemptions are an important part of reducing federal red tape and ensuring Wyoming’s oil industry can flourish.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, issued the following statement today on the Senate passing a bipartisan supplemental appropriations package to address the humanitarian crisis at the southern border:

“We’ve done our job in the Senate, and now it’s time for Speaker Pelosi to get her caucus in line to address this crisis,” said Sen. Kennedy. “The Senate’s bipartisan legislation will provide the tools needed to manage this unprecedented emergency. This is not the time to be partisan. This is the time to come together.” 

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) filed legislation today to improve retirement savings plan options for millions of American small businesses and their employees.  This legislation makes it easier and less expensive for small businesses to offer retirement plans, like 401(k)s, by encouraging small businesses to band together through organized business associations, like chambers of commerce, that can sponsor affordable retirement plans for all of the associations’ members.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about one-third of private sector employees did not have access to employer-sponsored retirement plans in 2016.  Only 47% of employees of small businesses with fewer than 50 employees have access to defined retirement contribution plans, such as 401(k)-style plans.

“Millions of Americans work for small businesses that don’t have the resources to offer their employees retirement plans, which can make saving for retirement challenging and complicated,” said Sen. Kennedy. “This bill will make retirement plans more simple and available to people who own or work for small businesses. Americans know the value of hard work, and we work like dogs hoping that one day we’ll be able to kick back and retire.  This legislation will help make those retirement dreams more accessible to many hardworking Americans.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) announced today that Louisiana flood victims will get relief from the duplication of benefits’ issue that has been a roadblock to recovery.  Official guidance was published today that will allow the state to release disaster aid to those previously turned away because they applied for Small Business Administration loans.

The duplication of benefits’ issue has caused a financial hardship for many families struggling to recover from the 2016 floods.  After delays in implementing a solution, Sen. Kennedy privately met with President Trump in April to discuss the issue.

“This would not have happened without President Trump’s intervention, and that’s a fact. He promised me that he would take care of Louisiana, and he did.  President Trump, Secretary Carson and Office of Management and Budget Director Russ Vought are men of their word,” said Sen. Kennedy. “The duplication of benefits’ problem was an unfair hurdle for many families.  Louisianans deserve the disaster relief they were promised.”

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.), are demanding that Toronto-Dominion Bank provide a plan within 21 days for paying restitution to the thousands of people – including many Louisianans – who lost their life savings in the Stanford Ponzi scheme.

The demand letter to Toronto-Dominion Bank is part of a multi-layered strategy by Sens. Kennedy and Cassidy to recover money for victims defrauded by Stanford International Bank and Allen Stanford.  Stanford victims lost more than $5 billion.  They’ve recovered just a few cents for every dollar they lost.

Toronto-Dominion Bank provided banking services to Stanford without questioning suspicious activity, including unreasonably high investment returns, large round sums leaving Stanford’s accounts and wire transfers that should have set off warning bells.

In February, Sens. Kennedy and Cassidy asked Stanford’s Swiss bank, Societe Generale, to release $210 million in assets.  Sen. Cassidy later sat down with Societe Generale’s lawyers to discuss the issue.

“We’re going to chase Stanford’s assets like hounds from hell until we recover what was stolen from hard-working people.  The investors defrauded by Stanford weren’t wealthy.  Most of them were just average Louisianans who lost their life savings,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “Toronto-Dominion Bank turned a blind eye to obviously fraudulent activity by Stanford.  Ten years later, it’s past time to answer to the people who were hurt.”

“The Stanford Ponzi Scheme stole billions from hardworking teachers, nurses, firefighters and middle-class folks in Louisiana, and we will not stop until these families' life savings are returned,” said Dr. Cassidy.  “TD Bank's handling of the Stanford case is unacceptable and they must take action to mend their failure."

 

June 14, 2019

 

Mr. Gregory B. Braca

President and Chief Executive Officer

Toronto-Dominion Bank

Toronto-Dominion Centre

Toronto, Ontario M5K 1A2

Canada

 

Dear Mr. Braca,

It has been nearly 10 years since the collapse of Stanford International Bank (SIB) and Allen Stanford’s arrest for running the second largest Ponzi scheme in United States history.  Nearly a decade later, more than 21,000 of Stanford's victims have yet to be repaid in any meaningful way, and TD Bank has yet to be called to account for the years of knowing assistance it provided to Stanford and his Ponzi scheme, due in large part to the procedural and litigation roadblocks that TD Bank has thrown in the path of those seeking to obtain restitution for Stanford’s victims.

In the interim, we understand that TD Bank has not only continued to operate throughout the United States, but expanded its American operations.  We demand that TD Bank stop its obstructionist conduct, engage in a meaningful effort to put an end to this decade-long debacle, and provide restitution to the Stanford victims without further delay.  Regulatory intervention should not be necessary for Stanford's victims to receive the justice they deserve.

As you are undoubtedly aware, the evidence indicates that TD Bank aided and abetted Stanford’s banking outside the United States.  By providing banking services to Allen Stanford without so much as questioning a single transaction in the face of Stanford’s suspicious activity, TD Bank helped Stanford defraud thousands of unsuspecting victims.

TD Bank ignored numerous inescapable signs of fraudulent activity:  large round sums leaving Stanford’s TD Bank accounts; actual investment returns that could not support the unreasonably high CD returns SIB was offering; consistent wire transfers to accounts maintained by entities other than SIB; SIB’s limited number of Canadian customers; SIB’s correspondent banking services with another North American banking institution; SIB’s location in Antigua, one of the highest risk jurisdictions in the world known for money laundering; and Stanford’s declared bankruptcy and designation as a Politically Exposed Person.  In its pursuit of the fees it could earn by aiding the Stanford empire, TD Bank also ignored warnings from many others – including the SEC, Pershing, L.L.C., Chase Manhattan Bank, and Bank of America – about doing business with Stanford and SIB.  We will not permit TD Bank to hide any longer from the fact that it was an integral cog in the wheel of the Stanford Ponzi scheme.

TD Bank’s involvement with Stanford is part and parcel of a disturbing pattern of TD Bank’s turning a blind eye at its customers’ fraudulent activities:  a banking executive of TD Bank was convicted of assisting efforts to induce investors to fund the Scott Rothstein Ponzi scheme, and TD Bank, through its New York Branch, also acted as a correspondent bank to American International Bank (Antigua) (AIB), another entity in receivership that engaged in financial fraud and money laundering despite not having conducted “any due diligence” on AIB as noted in a 2001 Congressional report.

We will not tolerate this conduct and the abandonment of investors that have been harmed by TD Bank and other financial institutions involved with Stanford.

Accordingly, please begin the process of providing restitution to the Stanford victims immediately.  Within 21 days, please present to us your plan to put an end to the ongoing litigation with the Stanford receiver and other plaintiffs, and provide restitution to our constituents and the other victims of Allen Stanford’s fraud.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

___________________________                              ___________________________

John Kennedy                                                             Bill Cassidy, M.D.

US Senator                                                                  US Senator

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) filed amendments to the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) aimed at improving on-base housing for military families and increasing military bases’ financial stake in saving taxpayer money.   The amendments would address lead contamination concerns at Fort Polk.

One amendment will require testing of on-base housing for lead poisoning.  A report will then be made to Congress on how to improve living facilities in contaminated base housing.  Lead contamination is a concern in base housing across the country, including Fort Polk near Alexandria.

Another amendment will allow military bases to keep up to 25% of the savings they generate for partnering with local governments for services such as grounds maintenance, custodial services and solid waste management.  Fort Polk saves the federal government $2 million a year by sharing waste management services with the Vernon Parish Police Jury.

“Our military bases are an important part of our local communities.  The men and women of the military sacrifice their lives to ensure our continued freedom.  They expect to encounter danger on the battlefield, not at home on a military base.  Lead contamination has been found at military bases across this country, including Fort Polk.  This is a serious problem that must be addressed,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “At the same time, bases like Fort Polk are saving taxpayers money by partnering with local governments on necessary services.  They should be able to keep a portion of those savings.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) issued the following statement today after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released guidance for implementing a solution to the duplications of benefits’ issue facing many Louisiana flood victims.  Links to HUD’s guidance are below.

Sen. Kennedy has been working to help flood victims who were denied recovery assistance if they applied for Small Business Administration loans.  In April, Sen. Kennedy met privately with President Donald Trump to discuss a solution to the duplication of benefits’ issue that is affecting thousands of Louisiana families following the 2016 floods.

“President Trump told me two months ago that he wanted to help Louisiana.  I am hopeful that this guidance delivers the solution that Louisiana flood victims need,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “I’ll be reviewing it carefully to make sure it complies with Congress’ legislative intent.  The people of Louisiana deserve the disaster relief they were promised.  They shouldn’t be penalized for unprecedented flooding.”

HUD’s guidance:

Part 1 

Part 2 

 

 

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