Zurik: St. Tammany pres. says Reed practices garner disrespect - FOX 8, WVUE, fox8live.com, weather, app, news, saints

Zurik: St. Tammany pres. says Reed practices garner "disrespect for that office"

St. Tammany Parish President Pat Brister St. Tammany Parish President Pat Brister

If you ever wondered whether St. Tammany taxpayers funded the perks in Walter Reed's office, this may help provide an answer.

"The DA sends us a budget every year," says Parish President Pat Brister. "Each year for the last three years, they have been requesting additional funding."

For those past three years, St. Tammany Parish government has sent Walter Reed's office $2 million a year. Even after receiving that $2 million, Reed wanted more money - and came back to the parish president and the council.

Other than the DA, who serves St. Tammany and Washington parishes, Brister says she does not know another agency that has come back asking for more money. "I won't say never, but I do not recall it happening," she tells us.

In 2011, Walter Reed came back twice for more money. In April of that year, records show, he requested an additional $110,000 in taxpayer dollars. And the following June, Reed asked for and received an additional $142,200. In one year, 2011, he received $252.200 in extra money from parish taxpayers. Records show that extra funding went to "facilitate the staffing needs of the district attorney's office for the remainder" of the year.Budget Amendment thumbnails

We found that, in that same year, Reed reimbursed himself and select employees $10,717.90 for doctor's office co-pays and prescription medications.

"That's not the common use of tax dollars," Brister says. "And we don't do it. I don't know of any other agency that does it."

In 2011, he also used office funds to pay for a second retirement system for himself and select employees. The cost of that was $221,407.80.

When we ask the parish president whether the DA should have a second retirement plan, she tells us, "I would not have a second retirement plan. I don't have a first one, by the way, but I would not have. I don't know the reasons he did it. I wasn't there, and obviously didn't about it until it was reported. I think you have to look at it in the entire scheme. I mean, these are tax dollars that we're responsible for and we have to be absolutely certain we're using them in the correct way."

Here is another way to look at it. In 2011, Walter Reed's office spent $232,125.70 on medical reimbursements and extra retirement benefits. At the same time, an office shortfall forced Reed to request more taxpayer money for close to the same amount of money: $252,200.

"Certainly, it's a concern," says Brister. "And those are the questions that I'm being asked - what are we doing to look at their budget and look to make sure that what we are sending them is being used in the correct manner."

Brister has asked the legislative auditor to look at Reed's office, and her request quickly was followed by Reed's own request for the auditor's review. Reed has already said he will not seek re-election in the fall.

Brister hopes both actions will give the office a clean slate, next year. "Ultimately, I hope that we get the answers we need from the legislative auditor, in an audit," she says "And the new district attorney, I think, has seen that the public really has concerns when these type things happen. Let's get a new district attorney in there and let them start fresh. And they will have seen what was done in the past that has garnered so much disrespect for that office."

Reed canceled that extra retirement plan in the spring of 2012, citing budgetary concerns.​

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