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"Money Flowed to Questionable Projects"

The WaPo reports on "Largess in Louisiana" (same article here):

...Before Hurricane Katrina breached a levee on the New Orleans Industrial Canal, the Army Corps of Engineers had already launched a $748 million construction project at that very location. But the project had nothing to do with flood control. The Corps was building a huge new lock for the canal, an effort to accommodate steadily increasing barge traffic.
Except that barge traffic on the canal has been steadily decreasing...
...over the five years of President Bush's administration, Louisiana has received far more money for Corps civil works projects than any other state, about $1.9 billion; California was a distant second with less than $1.4 billion, even though its population is more than seven times as large...

Levee corruption: flashback to Nov 29 2004

From a DOJ press release of Nov. 29, 2004:

Shreveport, Louisiana . . . A federal grand jury has returned two separate indictments charging three members of the State Military Department with offenses related to the obstruction of an audit of the use of federal funds for flood mitigation activities throughout Louisiana, United States Attorney Donald W. Washington announced today.
Two of the individuals charged, MICHAEL C. APPE, 51, of Mandeville, Louisiana, and MICHAEL L. BROWN, 61, of St. Francisville, Louisiana, are senior employees of the Louisiana Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. Both APPE and BROWN are charged with conspiracy to obstruct a federal audit; BROWN is additionally charged with making a false statement.
The Hazardous Mitigation Grant Program is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and is designed to fund mitigation projects to prevent future flood losses or flood claims made upon the National Flood Insurance Program. BROWN was responsible for overall management the program in Louisiana; APPE was responsible for managing employees who perform fiscal transactions regarding these funds.
The indictment alleges that during an audit of the program being conducted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security-Office of Inspector General, a State Military Department employee realized that $175,000 in expenditures of federal monies was improper in that the money was not used for purposes authorized by the federal program and would therefore have to be re-paid to the federal government. This employee notified APPE, who in turn directed the employee to provide false documents to the federal auditors...

Tancredo: Katrina Aid to feds, not corrupt locals

Here's a letter Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) wrote to House Speaker Dennis Hastert:

Given the abysmal failure of state and local officials in Louisiana to plan adequately for or respond to the effects of Hurricane Katrina on the city of New Orleans, and given the long history of public corruption in Louisiana, I hope the House will refrain from directly appropriating any funds from the public treasury to either the state of Louisiana or the city of New Orleans. Instead, reconstruction and relief funds dedicated to the people of New Orleans should be administered by a private organization or a select committee similar to the historic Truman Commission.
Public corruption is a well known problem in Louisiana. The head of the FBI in New Orleans just this past year described the state's public corruption as "epidemic, endemic, and entrenched. No branch of government is exempt." Over the last thirty years, a long list of Louisiana politicians have been convicted of crimes; the list includes a governor, an attorney general, an elections commissioner, an agriculture commissioner, three successive insurance commissioners, a congressman, a federal judge, a State Senate president, six other state legislators, and a host of appointed officials, local sheriffs, city councilmen, and parish police jurors. Given the documented public corruption in the state, I am not confident that Louisiana officials can be trusted to administer federal relief aid...

The (at this point in time tasteless but what the hey) joke from Congressman Billy Tauzin might shed a clue as to why this is a good idea: "One half of Louisiana is under water and the other half is under indictment."

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