Archive for the ‘Supriya Jinda Foundation’ Category

BATON ROUGE (CNS)—The Supriya Jindal Foundation for Louisiana’s Children received nine individual contributions totaling $511,500 during 2010, according to the latest tax returns filed by the non-profit foundation.

During 2010, the organization distributed more than 100 interactive whiteboard systems with computers across the state and provided school supplies to more than 5,300 students in 16 different schools in coastal Louisiana, the tax return said.

The foundation came under some criticism earlier this year when it was revealed that several contributors to the foundation received large contracts or favorable legislation from Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration.

Among those contributors were Blue Cross/Blue Shield ($400 million contract), Marathon Oil (subsidiaries received $5.2 million in state funds), Northrop Grumman ($11.4 million contract), and AT&T (17 contracts totaling $32.2 million, plus cable television legislation favoring AT&T).

The 2010 tax return was prepared by Faulk & Winkler, a Baton Rouge certified public accounting firm. David Winkler, a principal in the firm, contributed $1,000 to Gov. Jindal’s gubernatorial campaign in June of 2007 and contributed an identical another $1,000 in December of 2010.

One unidentified contributor in 2010 gave the foundation $170,000. Others, all unidentified, gave $75,000, $70,000, $62,500, $19,065, $10,000, $5,000, and two who gave $50,000 each, the tax return shows.

The return shows total revenues of nearly $545,000 against $565,655 in expenses for the year.

The tax return indicates interactive whiteboard systems and laptop computers for educational purposes were distributed to the following schools:

Briarfield Academy in Lake Providence, Central School Corp. of Grand Cane, Old Bethel Christian Academy of Clarks, Tallulah Academy/Delta Christian School of Tallulah, St. Charles Borromeo Elementary of Destrehan, St. Edward Catholic School of New Iberia, Tensas Academy of St. Joseph, A.L. Smith Elementary of Sterlington, Bridge City Elementary of Westwego, Calvin High School, Claiborne Elementary of West Monroe, Downsville High School, Emily C. Watkins Elementary of LaPlace, Fairview High School of Grant, Garyville/Mount Airy Math & Science Magnet School, Haynesville Elementary, Hillcrest Elementary of Ruston, James Ward Elementary of Jennings, K.R. Hanchey Elementary of DeRidder, Krotz Springs Elementary, Many Elementary, Monterrey High School, Mulberry Elementary School of Houma, Oak Grove Elementary, Olla-Standard Elementary School, Peabody Montessori Elementary of Alexandria, Pollock Elementary, Port Barre Elementary, Quitman High School, Shongaloo High School, Sicily Island Elementary, South Highlands Elementary Magnet of Shreveport, Start Elementary, and W.W. Stewart Elementary of Basile.

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Federal income tax returns show that the Supriya Jindal Foundation for Louisiana’s Children had receipts of more than $278,000 in 2009 but spent less than $67,000 on 60 interactive whiteboards donated to public school classrooms across Louisiana.

Returns for two other years, 2008 and 2010 were not immediately available but apparently reflect much larger donations to the foundation, according to other sources.

The foundation, headed by Gov. Bobby Jindal’s wife generated considerable controversy last month when it was learned that several corporate contributors had profited either through lucrative state contracts, favorable legislation, or lax enforcement of penalties against polluters.

The foundation was founded in mid-2008, six months after Jindal took office. Capitol News Service requested complete tax returns from the foundation but received only the return for 2009. No returns for 2008 or 2010 were provided.

Charter members pledged $250,000, according to the foundation’s web page which contains a photo of Gov. Jindal and his wife. Platinum members pledge $100,000, Gold members $50,000, Silver members $25,000, and bronze members $10,000. Circle of Friends members give a one-time gift of up to $10,000, the web page says.

Individuals and corporate donors are limited to maximum political contributions of $5,000 during each election cycle, but there is no limit on the amount that can be given a foundation run by either a candidate or a spouse.

Depending on the news source quoted, Mrs. Jindal’s foundation has received $1 million overall and has spent that same amount on the installation of about 170 interactive whiteboards that enable teachers to download multimedia lesson plans to aid them in teaching math or science.

A report by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) said nine companies that collectively contributed $100,000 to Jindal’s campaign over several election cycles donated at least $790,000 to the foundation.

The foundation received $250,000 from Marathon Oil. Marathon subsidiaries have received $5.2 million in state funds, according to a report by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).

BlueCross/BlueShield contributed $100,000 and won a questionable $400 million contract to provide health insurance for state employees and retirees and their dependants. A state court judge later ordered the state to re-bid the contract after Humana challenged the contract in a lawsuit that said the plan bid on by BlueCross/BlueShield was not what the state request for proposals (RFP) specified.

Northrop Grumman contributed $10,000 and was awarded a consulting contract of $11.4 million.

Dow Chemical pledged $100,000 and efforts by the administration to fine Dow’s Union Carbide subsidiary for allowing the release of a toxic pollutant and failing to notify state authorities of the leak in a timely manner were apparently dropped.

AT&T may have been the big winner, though.

The corporation contributed $10,000 to Jindal’s campaign since 2007 but gave $250,000 to the Jindal Foundation after Gov. Jindal signed SB- 807 into law (Act 433) in 2008 over the objections of the Louisiana Municipal and the State Police Jury associations. The bill, the Consumer Choice for Television Act removed from local and parish governments their authority and responsibility to negotiate cable franchise agreements with companies that relied largely on locally-owned public infrastructure such as utility poles. The bill also allows AT&T to sell cable television service without the necessity of obtaining local franchises.

In addition to benefitting from the newly enacted cable television law, Capitol News Service found that AT&T also had a minimum of 17 separate contracts with the state totaling $32.2 million.

In addition to contracts, lax enforcement, and favorable legislation, the foundation’s tax return shows that the foundation’s treasurer is Alexandra Bautsch who also is Gov. Jindal’s chief fundraiser, an association that is a little too close for CREW Director Melanie Sloan, who called it “an awfully close relationship between the charity and the governor.”

Sloan, a former prosecutor, said, “Donations that come in to charities like this are almost always from folks who want something from a politician. The donations are made not because of the great work of the charity, but because of connections.

“Foundations tied to politicians see their donations dry up when the politician is no longer in power,” she said. “That demonstrates the real reason the charities get the donations is their political position, not because of the good works they do.”

“If it is not an actual conflict, it is an appearance of conflict,” she said.

Claude “Buddy” Leach, Jr., chairman of the Louisiana Democratic Party, said it was “the perception that you can have influence with the governor’s office through this foundation.”

Jindal press secretary Kyle Plotkin said Jindal has never solicited donations for his wife’s foundation. But Jindal does appear with his wife in a photograph pasted on the foundation’s web page which could be interpreted by some as a subtle come-on by the governor aimed at potential donors.

Another spokesperson for Gov. Jindal said anything other than the reality that the charity is a “completely nonpolitical, nonpartisan organization created by the first lady….has plainly been dreamed up by partisan hacks living in a fantasy land.”

Pot, kettle.

Gov. Jindal simply said allegations of influence peddling through his wife’s foundation were “silly.”

Kettle, pot.

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Gov. Bobby Jindal has outlined an ambitious program for his second term of office, including the privatization of the Louisiana Legislature, state colleges and universities, the sale of all state roads and highways and bridges to private concerns, and rapid expansion of the state’s charter school system, all to be controlled by private entities.

His plans for the state, which he calls the “Piyush Push,” were revealed by WikiLeaks which published a series of emails between Jindal and corporate campaign supporters who have contributed millions of dollars to Jindal’s wife’s charity, the Supriya Jindal Foundation for Louisiana’s Children. Upon learning of the WikiLeaks report, the governor called a press conference to explain his programs.

The privatization plan calls for the takeover of the Louisiana Legislature by a corporate board made up of the CEOs of Louisiana’s larger corporations and Wall Street bankers, including AT&T and Goldman Sachs.

The operating boards of state colleges and universities would be merged into a single governing board with board members serving at Jindal’s pleasure. An obscure clause in his plan would allow him to retain control of appointments even after he leaves office. The so-called super board would be comprised of major contributors who would purchase stock shares in the universities. Board members would be allowed to send their elementary- and high school-age children and grandchildren to state charter schools.

“We are not going to raise taxes on the people of Louisiana,” Jindal said at the hastily called press conference attended only by reporters from the Baton Rouge Business Report. “We are going to run these universities like a business. Tuition will be adjusted to a level comparable to that of our nation’s finest institutions, the Ivy League schools, of which I am an alumnus. The board members will not draw per diem or salaries for their services but we anticipate they will profit from their sacrifice and hard work through stock ownership and lucrative stock options in the universities,” the governor said.

“Again, I want to reiterate that we are not going to increase taxes but the new owners of state roads, highways, and bridges will certainly be free to charge a modest usage fee for travel on their byways and bridges,” Jindal said. “People who drive cars should understand that use of roads and bridges is a privilege, not a right and that a usage fee is not the same as a tax; it’s a fee. We believe that these usage fees will offset the need for any increase in gasoline taxes.”

As for the future of the legislature, Jindal said it will be downsized from the current membership of 144 to 12 white males who will inherit all current campaign contributions remaining and accruing to the 144 outgoing legislators. The only way an African-American would be appointed would be in the event of a class action lawsuit by representatives of minority groups. “It almost worked with the Board of Regents,” the governor said in defending his legislative plan.

A few legislators voiced reservations with the manner in which Jindal is moving to privatize their institution, but after having gone along with the governor in other privatization endeavors, most indicated they would not resist the new austerity moves by the governor. Nor was there any immediate indication that legislators would attempt to invoke the separation of powers doctrine under which the legislature has heretofore been largely independent of the governor’s office.

Sen. Carl Spackler of Bushwood, however, was one who vowed he will not vote in favor of privatization of the legislature. “I believe the legislative branch of government is protected in the Constitution somewhere and I’m going to read up on that,” Spackler said. “If I’m correct, I’m not going to sit still for him putting me out of a job. Who does Jindal think we are, state employees? I worked hard for my GED.”

But Jindal was emphatic about pushing for complete passage of his austerity package, saying there would be no compromise. “I want to emphasize that these moves are in keeping with my ‘more is less’ philosophy for all government,” he said. “For those who may question these actions, I would say to them, ‘Quit whining and work smarter.”

Neither is Jindal considering an increase in tobacco taxes. “Smoking is a private decision, an individual right, and smokers should not be penalized for exercising that right,” he said. “We are, however, imposing a significant surcharge for abortions to encourage the notion that life is sacred and women should not make such decisions too lightly. Again, I want to emphasize this is not a tax.”

He said he is also planning to sharply reduce the number of state employees. One example of his layoff plan would require every Louisiana citizen who is unwilling or unable to complete the process on-line to appear at a central location in Baton Rouge, Shreveport, Monroe, New Orleans, Alexandria, Lafayette, or Lake Charles for driver’s license applications and license renewals. “I don’t see why we can’t get by in each office with one or two persons,” he said. “How difficult can it be to issue a driver’s license?”

He also announced plans to double the size and the salaries of the state’s Homeland Security Office while at the same time saying he would cut staff at state hospitals to a single physician and nurse per specialty at each facility. “I believe with fewer doctors, people will find a way to stay healthier,” Jindal said.

“Again, I want to say we are not going to raise taxes,” he said. “That is not an option. We are, however, going to raise the annual deductible on medical care to $12,500 per year, increase co-payments to $50, and at the same time, we’re asking state workers to kick in another 75 percent on employee premiums on health care coverage and retirement benefits.”

Jindal used the press conference to take yet another swipe at big government in general and President Obama in particular. “The bloated federal government should take a look at Louisiana and say, “That’s how things should be done,” he said. “We’re proving in our open and transparent administration that our ethics are above reproach and we’re wiping out our deficit with good, open and honest government,” he said as the CEOs of AT&T, Northrop Grumman, Worley Catastrophe Response, and Blue Cross/Blue Shield stood behind him.

“I would once again call upon the Obama administration to repeal its drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico so that our oil companies can make a decent living,” Jindal said.

Jindal said he would sell all public schools to private entities so that they could be converted to charter schools. He said the move would be a model of efficiency for the rest of the nation. “I believe the 25 percent loss in Detroit’s population over the past decade, for example, could be reversed simply by converting to my proposed system for Louisiana schools,” he said.

“I fully anticipate there will be a bidding war for acquisition of schools as public finance will guarantee a solid return for investors,” Jindal said. “Of course my administration will invest the funds derived from the sale so that cash flow will support scholarships to the schools or such other General Fund needs as might arise in the budget balancing process.”

He said those children unable to take advantage of the improved educational opportunities will be housed in dormitories near the Nucor Steel Mill in St. James Parish, the Tournament Players Club golf course in Jefferson Parish, and the Foster Farms chicken processing plant in Union Parish. “There, they will be given hands-on training to meet the plants’ needs,” he said. “If all else fails, they would certainly be qualified to become slag haulers, caddies at state-run golf clubs, or chicken pluckers.”

To insure that the schools will succeed and will demonstrate high test scores, students will be carefully pre-screened before being accepted for enrollment, Jindal said. The schools will be run by boards comprised of members selected by the owners. Owners and board members, along with the college and university Super Board members, will be given first choice of the available seats in the school for their children, as will those of select employees.

“I am fully aware that all this will require Constitutional amendments but I fully expect the voters of Louisiana to continue to support our programs. But just in case, beginning here and now, I am stepping up my schedule of visiting churches to garner popular support for my proposals. Beginning Sunday and continuing through Election Day, I will be visiting churches all over north Louisiana. My agenda will consist of three things: Sunday morning and Sunday evening services as well as Wednesday night prayer meetings.”

And that’s the way it is on Friday, April 1, 2011.

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He insists he has the job he wants.

He insists he does not plan to run for president in 2012, though he has not mentioned the vice presidency or even the U.S. Senate.

There is no Democratic opposition anywhere on the horizon to his re-election to the governor’s office next fall. Republican State Treasurer John Kennedy, though, is sounding more and more like a candidate with each passing day.

Part of the reason for the lack of opposition is the massive war chest Jindal has at his disposal. To date, he has $9 million and counting.

Running for governor of Louisiana is not cheap. In 2007, some $26 million was spent by three candidates with Jindal accounting for $11 million of that.

So perhaps that is the reason that Jindal has been traveling all over the country to attend fundraisers instead of staying in Baton Rouge and focusing his attention to the looming $1.6 billion deficit facing the state.

Campaign expenses, as any political observer knows, long ago removed government policy decisions from the best interests of the rank and file citizenry to the New York corporate boardrooms of oil and pharmaceutical companies and Wall Street bankers.

The office of the governor of Louisiana, sadly, is no exception. It’s for sale just like any other political office.

For proof of that, one need only look at the correlation between contributions to the Supriya Jindal Foundation for Louisiana’s Children and fat state contracts.

While the motives of Jindal’s wife may well be above reproach, any corporate CEO worth his bonus can readily see the advantage of making a generous contribution to the foundation. Take Northrop Grumman, for example. Northrop Grumman made a generous contribution of $10,000 to the foundation. Was it coincidence that Northrop Grumman soon received a three-year, $11.4 million contract with the Department of Social Services to provide support services for the statewide software network.

Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Louisiana got an even better return on its investment of $100,000. Blue Cross/Blue Shield subsequently was awarded a $400 million contract to provide health coverage for state employees and retirees in a bidding process that attracted the attention of a Baton Rouge judge.

Humana had held the contract and promptly filed suit, saying that the contract awarded Blue Cross/Blue Shield was not what was bid on. Mike Caldwell, a judge in the 19th Judicial District, agreed and ordered the state re-bid the contract.

AT&T also reaped benefits from its contribution, getting several contracts for providing cellular phone service for state-issued cell phones and for telecommunication services for the state’s land line system.

All these factors make campaigning for office a high-stakes game and leaves politicians beholden to their benefactors. And that runs up the costs of running for office. That, in turn, leaves small contributors out of the loop when it comes to policy making. It certainly gives credence to the old but bitter joke about having the best government money can buy.

Just last week, Jindal was out of state once more to attend yet more fundraisers.

Attempts by Louisiana Voice to obtain travel records for Jindal during 2010 were at first ignored for nearly two months. Emails to Jindal spokesman Kyle Plotkin went unanswered. Finally, earlier this month, the governor’s office responded that it did not keep records on campaign travel costs. Those records are kept by Jindal’s campaign, his office said.

The only problem with that response is financial records were never a part of the request–not that they won’t be at some point in the future. But this time, the only thing being sought was the number of days the governor spent on travel. Those records have yet to be made available.

So much for his claims of having the most-open, most-ethical administration in Louisiana history. So much for his claims of strengthening the state’s political ethics.

The latest fundraisers, in Dallas and Houston, are part of a continuing trend of out-of-state fundraising by the governor that has left some clearly dissatisfied with Jindal’s repeated absences from the state. It might even appear that some of the luster has faded from the Jindal image of boy wunderkind.

One person, responding to the latest soiree into another state to raise campaign funds, said, “I can’t wait to learn who is running against him so I know who I am voting for.”

Said another: “So nice that Texans care so much about Louisiana to donate.”

A third asked the rhetorical question, “Who knew Texans cared who is our governor? Here’s an idea: they can have him.”

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