By the content of that comment from the writer calling himself Earthpapa, we figured we must have hit a nerve with our report about Troy Hebert’s “campaign” expenditures on hotels and LSU tickets after he left office.
But the fact is, an apology is in order. We said he spent $4,930 in campaign funds on LSU tickets after he left office.
On double checking our figures, we find the actual amount is $4,991.
But the lengthy comment by Earthpapa appeared to have Hebert’s footprints all over it and the strident tone of his missive indicated to us that we had scored a direct hit, or very close to it.
And while we’re not saying with any definitiveness that Hebert was the author of the comment, it was enough to send us diving back into his campaign report for other expenditures incurred after he left the Louisiana Senate in November of 2010 to become head of the Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC).
(As an aside, the State Ethics Board has said that if campaign funds are not to be used for the purpose of campaigning or holding office, they are to be returned to the donors on a pro rata basis. Accordingly, if 100 donors give $1,000 each and $50,000 is left over and not to be used, then theoretically, the 100 donors would receive refunds of 50 percent of their contributions, or $500 each.)
But Hebert, apparently playing by his own rules, has continued to spend campaign funds at least through last December on such things as Christmas cards, advertising, postage, office supplies, stationery, flowers, food, newspaper advertising, subscriptions, gifts, clerical salaries for his New Iberia office and, of course, those LSU tickets—all expenditures not allowed under state campaign regulations.
Specifically, the Ethics Board says, “Funds must be expended for a use related to a political campaign or the holding of a public office.” (Emphasis by the Board.) But Hebert has not held office nor has he sought political office since becoming ATC director. shall not be used for any perso may not be used for any personal use unrelated to holding of public office
In all, Hebert (aka Earthpapa?) has shelled out more than $36,300 in non-campaign-related expenditures since December of 2010, according to his own campaign finance records. TROY HEBERT CAMPAIGN EXPENDITURES POST-SENATE
A breakdown of expenditures, in addition to the $4,991 in LSU tickets, includes:
- $3,539 on newspaper advertising;
- $14,454 on souvenirs (logo hats and shirts) and office supplies;
- $1,785 for postage, Christmas cards and newspaper, magazine and cable subscriptions;
- $1,250 on ornaments, gifts and lunches;
- $8,500 in political contributions to other candidates (which is allowable);
- $4,500 in salaries to two clerical employees in a New Iberia office from December of 2012 (the month after he left office) through December of 2013, two years after he left office.
There was no explanation as to why the ATC director needed an office in New Iberia or why his campaign funds had to be used to pay office staff salaries.
In November and December of 2014, three years after leaving office, he spent $3,585 at Erin Oswalt Photography for Christmas cards and in December of 2010, he spent $492 with Oswalt on postcards, campaign expense reports reveal.
His campaign also purchased $1,028 in postage between December of 2010 and December of 2014—not counting the eyebrow-raising $676 in campaign funds spent in December of 2014 for Christmas card postage.
Again, it’s difficult to conceive why the director of a state agency would need to purchase more than $1,700 in postage stamps over a four-year period using campaign funds long after he left office in open violation of campaign regulations.
Hebert Earthpapa will contact us and explain the use of campaign funds for non-campaign purposes.