Nearly one year ago, I blogged about Mayor Kip Holden’s propensity to travel on the taxpayer’s dime. This was based on the fact that in 1988 Holden ranked #2 as a Louisiana Legislator for one reason: spending taxpayer monies on travel.
Today, The Advocate has done an expose’ on Holden’s travel as Mayor-President of East Baton Rouge Parish revealing excessive trips during his tenure. Are we to be surprised?
One of the methods of determining an individual’s character is to observe how they spend other people’s money. The goal is to be a good steward of the money. A quick study of the EBR City Parish Budget indicates Holden does not hold fast to that mentality.
Part of the rub uncovered by Greg Garland, journalist for The Advocate, was Holden’s first class plane tickets. (The taxpayer’s are footing the bill for domestic travel while campaign contributors or consultants are paying for foreign travel.)
Another small annoyance is the fact that Holden was in violation of the Louisiana Ethics Laws by not providing detailed information on campaign expenditures for his China trip.
When Garland questioned the Mayor on this issue, Holden quickly cut him off by admitting the Ethics Commission did ask him to file an amended return, but that it was not the business of the newspaper.
Really? That’s an interesting position for a Mayor. Having made this statement, Holden is espousing that it is not the business of the taxpayers since the newspaper is charged with providing the facts for taxpayers.
C. B. Forgotston often refers to the Louisiana Ethics Commission’s tendency to fail to enact the laws. Forgotston refers to it as the “gold standard,” which in reality is a double standard. In this case, there are no apparent violations or fees imposed according to the Louisiana Ethics Commission for Mayor-President Melvin “Kip” Holden.
The $10,000 reimbursable expense that Holden did not detail in his campaign finance report is not that unusual for our Mayor. Nor are expenses that are questionable campaign expenditures. Just a few to mention include:
- LSU football tickets? $1,520
- LSU parking fees? $5,050
- Southern football tickets? $760
- Southern parking fees? $806
- Camelot membership dues? $201, $201, $201, (apparently this is a monthly expense during Holden’s campaigns)
- Car repairs? $500, $3134, $800
- There are also expenditures for flowers on virtually every report for $800 – $1,300 in each instance. That’s a lot of flowers.
The point of this exercise is to take a look at how Holden spends campaign contributions. It’s just more proof of his disregard for other people’s money. Campaign contributors freely give their money for election results, not for luxury items for a candidate. You can attend football games, and walk around the tailgaters without making your contributors pay for you to enjoy the game. Sadly, few contributors even read campaign finance reports.
The campaign finance law requires explanations for each campaign expenditure. To not do so would definitely be equal to violation of the law as it exists, regardless of Holden’s brush off to Garland upon questioning.
Claiming that you were reimbursed $10,000 is not sufficient. There should be a detailed explanation of how each dollar was allotted.
As Forgotston so eloquently states, there is a desperate need for our elected leaders to be forthright, and for the laws to be enforced. Can you imagine using your employer’s money and then when questioned, tell them it’s not their business? How long would you remain employed?
There is a huge chasm between the private and public sector. Elected officials should understand that if we run city and state government like a business, we would spend less time living the high life and more time meeting the needs of the people they serve.
We have a way to go down this long and winding road we call politics in East Baton Rouge Parish, and it begins in the Mayor’s office. If we are to be the greatest city in America, we have to do better.
Until next time,
Red Stick Republican