The highly anticipated New Orleans East hospital is complete and ready to serve the people of New Orleans East, Gentilly and the Lower 9th Ward. For nine years since Hurricane Katrina, there's been amore>>
The highly anticipated New Orleans East hospital is complete and ready to serve the people of New Orleans East, Gentilly and the Lower 9th Ward.more>>
By MELINDA DESLATTE Associated Press BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu's main Republican challenger, Congressman Bill Cassidy, was among the first congressional candidates to sign up formore>>
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu's main Republican challenger, Congressman Bill Cassidy, was among the first congressional candidates to sign up for Louisiana's Nov. 4 election.more>>
Police say that a man was shot multiple times following an argument over a cell phone charger. Police have now named a suspect in the shooting. New Orleans police are searching for Milton Newman, 32,more>>
Police say that a man was shot multiple times following an argument over a cell phone charger. Police have now named a suspect in the shooting. more>>
The Saints get a harsh reminder of what it's like to practice in Louisiana heat. The team was out on the practice field in Metairie on Tuesday. Along with the heat comes the return of a player who hadmore>>
The Saints get a harsh reminder of what it's like to practice in Louisiana heat. The team was out on the practice field in Metairie on Tuesday.more>>
Dashcam footage captures an amazingly acrobatic motorcycle accident. As a car switches lanes, a motorcyclist slams into the vehicle's rear bumper. The motorcyclists is launched into the air, flips andmore>>
Dashcam footage captures an amazingly acrobatic motorcycle accident.more>>
While you were sleeping, the Internet never stopped… Here's what's trending today. Mug shot, then ice cream Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) is trending. Perry, facing charges of coercion and abuse of power,more>>
While you were sleeping, the Internet never stopped… Here's what's trending today.
After several rainy and stormy periods over the weekend, we are going to see more breaks for additional sunshine and a daily rain chance all this week. We are currently on the dry-side of an upper disturbance,more>>
Records are in the upper 90s and even triple digits at both the Airport and Audubon. Records will be at risk, but that would be at the extreme. I think they are safe.more>>
More New Orleans residents meet Tuesday night to discuss the priorities for city leaders this upcoming year. Mayor Mitch Landrieu is hosting several community meetings ahead of the city's budget processmore>>
From street repairs to crime concerns, New Orleans residents get the chance to sound off. Mayor Mitch Landrieu will hold a meeting in Lakeview to discuss the priorities for city leaders this upcoming year.more>>
NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) -
In 2013, Louisiana Senate President John Alario spent $152,000 of his campaign money - the majority of it - on tickets, food, a car, gas and travel.
"They couldn't get away with writing this stuff off as a business deduction in their businesses," notes political watchdog C.B. Forgotston. "But somehow they can. I mean, it's all personal expenses. I can't write off a gift to my niece, but you can write this off. And not only that, these are tax-free dollars."
Yes, this is campaign money, so Alario didn't have to pay any taxes. So if Alario had to pay that $152,000 out of his own checking account, he would have needed to earn about $210,000, and then pay taxes.
In 2013, Alario bought tickets for his suites at Tiger Stadium and at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. He spent $10,000 at the New Orleans Arena and $6,300 at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
Alario spent nearly $11,000 on food in 2013. In March he went to Antoine's and in May he spent $441 at Galatoire's - one of two trips he made there last year. Alario had six meals at Copeland's, seven at Zea's and four at Ruth's Chris - the priciest sitting there was in September, at $860.
In May, Alario even charged his campaign $137 at Rouse's grocery store.
Alario paid $700 a month to BMW for a car lease, and had eight trips where his campaign paid for airfare – all travel relating to official duties, according to the descriptions he added to his campaign disclosure form. We have no idea where Alario went or how it related to his campaign or office.
"It's immaterial what you put in those blank lines," says Forgotston. "There's no scrutiny of them."
Former lawmaker Francis Heitmeier still has money remaining in his campaign and PAC accounts.
"What is Francis Heitmeier running for?" asks Forgotston, incredulously.
To Heitmeier, who hasn't run for office since 2006, it doesn't matter.
Last year, $27,000 - or 77 percent of his money - went to tickets, paying for his Saints and LSU suites.
Heitmeier also used campaign funds for nearly $4,000 at restaurants. Heitmeier went to Ruth's Chris, Pascal's Manale and Houston's – again, spending campaign money, even though he's been out of office since 2007.
"I never wanted to run for public office," jokes Forgotston. "I'm starting to think, wow, if I could get enough fools to put up a $100,000 for me in a PAC, I'd kind of hope to lose. And then I wouldn't spend but about a thousand dollars, just qualifying - I'd have $99,000 left over. Man, I could live well. I could rent me a Jaguar like John Alario. I could go to all these games and buy all these tickets. And if anyone questioned me, I'm saying, ‘Well, don't know what the future's going to bring… I don't know whether I'm going to run. I may run again, I may run for the Hammond City Council."
Louisiana House and Senate members began the 2041 session Monday with a midday address by Gov. Bobby Jindal, another of the officials noted in our reporting. He thanked legislators, in part for their overhaul of state ethics laws. Jindal did not offer any specific new reforms of campaign finance law in the address.
We asked the governor's office whether he has any renewed interest in campaign finance reform following our investigation. Shannon Bates, the governor's deputy press secretary, sent us this statement by email:
We're always open to reviewing ideas that bring more transparency to campaign finance and build on our previous ethics reforms. In 2008, we overhauled our ethics laws and Louisiana now has some of the toughest ethics laws in the nation. As a result, the laws are much clearer, and legislators now must disclose their finances. We also enhanced transparency in lobbyist activities, requiring more detailed monthly public spending reports. All of these reforms now mean that who you know is no longer more important than what you know when it comes to doing business in our state, and they've helped us cultivate an environment where businesses want to invest and create jobs.
It's one of the most iconic arenas in all of sport and a distinguishing feature in the New Orleans skyline. The stadium began as the brainchild of David Dixon, a businessman and sports executive who playedmore>>
It's one of the most iconic stadiums in all of sport and a distinguishing feature in the New Orleans skyline. more>>
Tuesday, August 19 2014 4:53 PM EDT2014-08-19 20:53:02 GMT
A cross was burned in the yard of a Smith County man after what his family is referring to as a vicious hate crime occurred. Family members say that Craig Wilson was beaten with brass knuckles and shotmore>>
A burning cross, a Smith county man beaten and shot by a family member, and in critical condition. We are told this is much more than a family feud, and outraged family members are calling it a "hate crime."