Lobbying is an important part of the legislative process. It can educate lawmakers. But it can also influence - and legal experts say that influence can be enhanced by wining and dining. According to our analysis in this "Louisiana Purchased" investigation, there are some big loopholes in the state's lobbying laws.
Sources tell FOX 8 News and NOLA.com|The Times-Picayune that the FBI is investigating the campaign spending of Senate President John Alario. They launched the investigation following findings in our "Louisiana Purchased" series last year.
He was once one of the most powerful elected officials in southeast Louisiana. Now Reed faces a federal criminal trial himself, as does his son Steven. But it's clear that he'll put up a fight against the charges.
Federal prosecutors dropped off a federal grand jury subpoena to FOX 8 News for their investigation into former St. Tammany Parish District Attorney Walter Reed. Prosecutors want a copy of a newscast and one of many stories we did on Walter Reed, all part of our “Louisiana Purchased” series with NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has said he will not run for any other office other than president. So why did he spend more money than any other politician in the state last year? One political analyst says it's because Jindal may be breaking the law. It's the latest in our “Louisiana Purchased” investigation of campaign finance.
A longtime political analyst says it's time for the federal government - the IRS - to put an end to a practice that's gone unchecked for decades. It's a practice we see in full swing as we review 2013 campaign expenditures by state and local politicians in Louisiana.
Joe Harrison's job as state lawmaker is considered part time. In his full-time job, he is a financial planner in Napoleonville. He deals with money and numbers. But after reviewing his campaign and House records, we questioned whether his numbers really add up. Now federal investigators are asking their own questions.
How would you like to be reimbursed twice for the same business expense? That's illegal for most of us. But for some lawmakers we've been examining, it seems to be standard procedure. We're talking about your tax dollars, being wasted in a practice that no one in Louisiana seems to be policing. Yet, when we put our questions to one of those lawmakers directly, he didn't think it was important for him to answer.
Our "Louisiana Purchased" series helped change laws in the state's 2014 legislative session. One good government group says, while it's a step in the right direction, the reforms still don't address some big picture issues.
The last time St. Tammany's district attorney faced an opponent, Jim Mora was the Saints' head coach. But that hasn't stopped Reed from raising and spending, on average, $149,000 of campaign money every year. Here's the latest installment of "Louisiana Purchased," reported by FOX 8 News and Heather Nolan of NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune.
At $184,000 a year, District Attorney Walter Reed is now the highest-paid elected official in St. Tammany Parish. But it's his work on the side that raises questions in our latest "Louisiana Purchased" report - especially the work he does for a public hospital, and the potential mix of public and private resources.
Lawmakers pay for expenses out of two pots of money: their campaign account, funded by contributors, and legislative expense accounts, funded by taxpayers. We've found lawmakers paying expenses through their campaign, then seeking reimbursement for those same expenses from taxpayers. It's just the latest finding in our "Louisiana Purchased" probe of campaign finances.
The St. Tammany district attorney paid his son's company a huge amount for bar services at a Sept. 2012 campaign fundraiser. But what did Steven Reed actually do for the money? We comb through records of the event in this latest edition of the "Louisiana Purchased" joint investigation by FOX 8 News and NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune.
A corruption watchdog says the La. Ethics Board needs to investigate questions raised in our latest "Louisiana Purchased" reports, focusing on two powerful state senators. Their campaign finance practices may draw federal attention, too.
He's one of the most powerful politicians in the state of Louisiana. FOX 8 News and NOLA.com/The Times Picayune have put his campaign finance records under the microscope. Now we have pointed questions for the long-time lawmaker - because what we've seen may not be accurate. It's the latest installment of "our Louisiana Purchased" probe of the state's campaign finance system.
Over the past four years, La. State Senator Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb has spent $19,442.64 from her campaign account on a cell phone. At the same time, the Baton Rouge Democrat has asked the Senate to reimburse her for cell phone expenses - essentially asking taxpayers to write a check to cover a bill that she's already paid. That finding is one of many from our "Louisiana Purchased" probe of campaign finance by FOX 8 News and NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune.
How would you like to be paid $12 to serve someone two drinks, another 12 dollars to serve someone else a couple of drinks, and get that money again and again, for each person you serve? That's the apparent purpose of payments from a long-time elected official to his son.
Football tickets and expensive meals dominate the expenditure totals in 2013 campaign finance reporting by Senate President John Alario and former lawmaker Francis Heitmeier. And because they claimed the purchases as campaign expenses, it's basically tax-free spending. It's the latest in our "Louisiana Purchased" joint investigation with NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune.
After possibly breaking the law, a state lawmaker files a bill that would make a similar violation in the future legal. It's the latest development in our "Louisiana Purchased" joint investigation with NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune.
Six politicians have returned a total of almost $300,000 in campaign contributions as a result of our series of investigations. They paid the money back after we detailed how they broke the law. Those findings apparently also launched an investigation by the La. Ethics Board. It's the latest development in our Louisiana Purchased joint investigation with NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune.
In Louisiana, elected officials may form their own political action committees to support their allies' election campaigns. But some powerful lawmakers appear to be using their PAC's for perks, including the purchase of football and concert tickets, gourmet meals and other luxuries. We examine two surprising cases of this in a new installment of our Louisiana Purchased joint investigation, in partnership with NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune.
You may think running for office entails hiring consultants, campaign workers and running commercials - and it does. But it's the other stuff politicians buy that raises questions. We explore those questionable expenditures in this edition of our "Louisiana Purchased" investigation, reported in partnership with NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune.
In four years, a group of elected officials spent almost half a million dollars out of their campaign war chests, writing off meals and gifts as constituent-related expenses. And by no means do the questionable expenditures stop there. These findings are the latest in our "Louisiana Purchased" joint investigation of campaign finance with NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune.
State Treasurer John Kennedy deals with money every day. And after watching our investigative series "Louisiana Purchased," he decided to come up with a way to find more money for the state's Board of Ethics. That's because the board is still waiting for candidates, politicians, PAC's and lobbyists to pay some $1.2 million in fines - and it hardly has the resources to go after the delinquents.
He's term-limited - he can't run for governor in two years. And the money he's raised can't be used on a federal election for president or Congress. But if you look at his campaign finance reports, the millions of dollars Bobby Jindal has raised has allowed him to travel around the country, campaigning, boosting his national profile. We examine who's been giving him that cash.
Our list of the top 400 donors to Louisiana elections over the past four years is a record of people with the money to influence taxpayer money, laws, politicians and elections. This small group actually represents a sliver of all donors. But they give more than 31 percent of all money donated to Louisiana's politicians. This list is an introduction to our "Louisiana Purchased" joint investigation with NOLA.com/the Times-Picayune.
So far we've focused on state officials in our probe of campaign finances. Now, we're drilling down to the parish level - Jefferson Parish, specifically. There, we find a troubling tie between campaign contributions and much of the contract work handed out by the Parish Council. We explore the tie in this edition of "Louisiana Purchased" - a joint investigation by FOX 8 News and NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune.
Everybody who pays a utility bill in Louisiana is impacted by the decisions of the state's Public Service Commission. It's a government body that has broad powers to watch over and regulate public utilities and motor carriers, too. As part of our campaign finance probe, we ask, who funds the watchmen? We look for the answer in this edition of "Louisiana Purchased" - a joint investigation by FOX 8 News and NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune.
We've spent months studying campaign records, finding that at least nine public officials apparently broke campaign finance laws. And we found many of these same politicians are using their campaign war chests - and that extra, potentially illegal money - for questionable purposes, such as football tickets and meals. It's part or "Louisiana Purchased" - a joint NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune.
The State Ethics Board may be opening a type of investigation it has never done before. Members have never dug through the campaign finance reports to find the type of violation we uncovered. We'll show you research that catches politicians breaking the law in this edition of "Louisiana Purchased" - a joint investigation with NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune.
State leaders don't want to elaborate how, and why, they've paid as much as $23 million a year to nursing homes for thousands of unused beds. The industry also has avoided damaging cuts in state funding, even as lean budgets hit other health care providers hard. And, as we explain in this "Louisiana Purchased" report, nursing homes are very generous contributors to state politicians.
Louisiana's Campaign Finance Disclosure Act has been adjusted a few times since then, but it remains the state's primary law governing what a person or group may contribute to a candidate for political office in this state, and how such contributions are reported to the public.