Press Releases

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

Governor

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.  

 

 

Sincerely,

 

 

John Kennedy

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