Monday, February 18, 2019
(Baton Rouge, LA): Today the Republican Party of Louisiana submitted a public records request for any and all correspondence related to Democrat Governor John Bel Edwards’ Louisiana Statewide Business Summit to discern whether the governor is using it as a taxpayer-funded campaign event to bolster his re-election efforts. A copy of the request can be found here.
This request comes as Governor Edwards has faced a slew of bad headlines in recent weeks regarding his lackluster performance on the economy leading up to his announcement of the summit. This, along with the fact that many of the event’s speakers are either donors or employees of Edwards, raises questions of whether he is using his summit as a publicly-funded campaign event.
“On the heels of one negative story after another highlighting the poor state of Louisiana’s economy under the leadership of Governor Edwards, the Governor appears to have organized this summit for the benefit of his re-election efforts on the taxpayer’s dime,” said Chairman Louis Gurvich. “Our elected leaders should not be using taxpayer funds to further their personal political objectives. The timing and choice of speakers at this summit raises serious questions for Governor Edwards, and the people of Louisiana deserve answers.”
A Brief Timeline of Negative News Stories:
January 28 – “In a November 2015 debate, both Edwards and his Republican runoff challenger, then-U.S. Sen. David Vitter, said they wouldn’t raise tax rates on businesses or individuals. They talked of very similar plans to make government more efficient, remove protections that keep some areas of the budget off-limits to cuts and scale back tax break programs. Tax rates under Edwards, however, were raised.” (AP: In re-election bid, Edwards to face tax scrutiny)
January 30 – Louisiana ranked the worst state in the country for where to find a job. (Zippia: THESE ARE THE 10 BEST STATES IN AMERICA FOR JOBS)
January 30 – “Until then we live with Gov. Edwards’ ‘Texas Plan’ that was evident in a post by Baton Rouge ex-pat Branon Pesnell, who now does real estate in Houston: ‘I am one of the 55,000 who moved out of the state (2016-2018) partly because of this type of short-sighted thinking. Decisions like this will have long-term impact on the Louisiana’s ability to recruit and keep business. The door is open in Texas, come on in!’” (Greater Baton Rouge Business Journal: Publisher: Governor’s ITEP change helps Texas)
February 4 – “Stephen Waguespack, president of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, said Monday at the Press Club of Baton Rouge [ITEP] is ‘broken’…” (Advocate: LABI, Louisiana's largest business lobby, wants changes for ITEP tax)
February 4 – “But Edwards isn’t interested in changing the rules, saying Louisiana remains competitive in business development.” (AP: Louisiana leaders divided on industrial tax break)
February 9 – “Even when watered down by a Republican-led Legislature, his policies over the past three years have produced tax hikes and 40 percent higher state spending. Louisiana has one of the worst economies in the country with almost no net new jobs created.” (Advocate: Jeff Sadow: Look behind the spin put on Gov. Edward's polling numbers)
February 13 – John Bel Edwards announces Louisiana Statewide Business Summit (Advocate:Louisiana Statewide Business Summit to highlight economic development success stories)