BATON ROUGE (CNS)—Before we leave the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) funding controversy (for now; we can always return to it when events warrant), we thought we’d review a few of the more interesting NGO funding requests that came before the Louisiana Legislature this year.
We interrupt this story for a tip of the hat to our friend C.B. Forgotston who provided us with some background information on one of the 36 organizations that State Treasurer John Kennedy said earlier this week were a tad negligent in providing an accounting of how their NGO funding from the state was spent.
Forgotston pointed out that one of those, The Colomb Foundation in Lafayette, is being asked to account for $300,000 of $361,000 in funding it received.
All non-profits are required by law to file Non-Profits 990 Reports with the IRS each year. These reports are public record but search of Non-Profits 990 Reports by Forgotston produced no results under the name The Colomb Foundation, Inc.
The foundation’s registered agent is Sterling Colomb, according to the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office.
Sterling Colomb is married to Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb.
Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb is a state senator from Baton Rouge.
Connect the dots and follow the money, folks.
We return you now to our regular story.
Altogether, about 100 applications were received from the same NGOs which submit their paperwork each year in hopes of receiving funding from the state.
In the past, it’s been pretty much a routine procedure to ask for—and receive—funds from the state. It is, after all, a scheme strikingly similar to vote buying, only more respectable, we suppose. Who could vote against a legislator who brought home funding for the local Council on Aging or for a community activity center or a kids’ baseball park?
That was then when the state had money. There was little to no oversight provided on the disposition of these funds. Give ‘em the money and remind them who to vote for next election.
But this is now when funding is hard to come by and when the governor is pulling money from higher education, health care and developmentally disabled programs and using one-time money to plug budget holes.
Still the applications came in from those councils on aging, local civic clubs, arts museums, the YMCAs and substance abuse centers.
Even the Treme Community Education Program, Inc. which was on that list of 36 organizations that State Treasurer John Kennedy is asking to provide an accounting for the use of past funding—or pay the state back—submitted a request.
In the case of Treme Community Education Program, it is being asked to account for the expenditure of $425,000 but that didn’t prevent the organization from submitting a request this year for $475,000 “to provide transportation for senior citizens to all offsite field trips; wholesome nutritious means, and organized physical, academic and social activities specifically for their age group.”
Small potatoes. Check out some of the other requests, some of which were approved in House Bill 1, the state’s general appropriations bill signed into law by Gov. Bobby Jindal as Act 13. First, those that received funding:
- $1 million for the 2013 NCAA Women’s Final Four Basketball Tournament Host Committee;
- $544,020 for the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation;
- $280,577 for the New Orleans Bowl;
- $151,140 for Healing Hearts for Community Development in Metairie;
- $400,000 for the Avondale Booster Club.
Here are some of the other requests:
- New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation (Jazz Fest): $2,470,586;
- State Fair of Louisiana (Shreveport): $12,664,960;
- 2014 NBA All-Star Host Committee; $3,250,000;
- Teach for America: $5 million (at least $1 million of that request was approved by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education). TFA, in addition to the money received from the state outright, also receives $3,000 per teacher placed from local school districts that hire TFA teachers. The local school districts must also pay the salaries of the TFA teachers.
- Biomedical Research Foundation of Northwest Louisiana: $6.53 million (approved for $4.8 million in Priority 2, or second year funding).
This is the same Biomedical Research Foundation of Northwest Louisiana that was recently awarded a blank contract by the LSU Board of Stuporvisors to assume administrative and operational control of the LSU Medical Center in Shreveport and E.A. Conway Medical Center in Monroe.
This is the same Biomedical Research Foundation whose President and CEO, Dr. John F. George, Jr., is a member of the LSU Board of Stuporvisors—the same public agency that somehow skirted all existing conflict of interest laws to award that blank contract to an organization run by one of its board members.
That’s the same John F. George, Jr., M.D., who made two campaign contributions of $5,000 each to Jindal.
That’s the same Biomedical Research Foundation whose board members, including John F. George, Jr., M.D., combined to contribute $31,000 to various Jindal campaigns. Besides George, those board members and the amounts contributed include:
- Roy L. Griggs of Griggs Enterprise: $5,000;
- Thomas Pressly, III, M.D.: $3,500;
- John F. Sharp, past President/CEO: $2,500;
- Craig Spohn of the Cyber Innovation Center: $10,000.
Oh, and this is the same Biomedical Research Center of Northwest Louisiana that currently has five active contracts with the state, excluding that blank contract with LSU, totaling $26.2 million. These include:
- $14 million “for capital improvements for the wet-lab business incubators.”
- $995,966 “to facilitate economic development by developing infrastructure need to provide technology transfer assistance to the university systems of Louisiana and to help commercialize technologies through the operations of a wet lab facility.”
- $8.75 million for research equipment.
- $1.9 million for “scanner acquisition for the positron emission tomography imaging center.”
- $563,700 the “provide PET and PET/CT scans for patients who are financially and medically indigent.”
Going back a few years, the Biomedical Research Foundation of Northwest Louisiana, which will henceforth operate the LSU Medical Center in Shreveport and the E.A. Conway Medical Center in Monroe with a blank contract, also had eight contracts (now expired) totaling another $14.1 million.
So it only makes sense that the foundation would be seeking an additional $6.53 million in NGO funding for “acquisitions.”