BATON ROUGE, La. – (5/24/19) Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry today joined New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, and 49 other Attorneys General in a bipartisan effort urging the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) to automatically forgive the student loans of veterans who became totally and permanently disabled in connection with their military service.
Wendy Vitter, wife of former Senator David Vitter of Louisiana, will find out this week if she will be confirmed to a seat to the federal bench
Vitter, 58, has the backing of both of Louisiana’s Republican U.S. senators, Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy, who have lauded her qualifications through the process.
“Wendy Vitter is extremely qualified and I look forward to voting for her,” Cassidy said Wednesday after several of his Democratic colleagues raised questions on the Senate floor about Vitter’s positions on abortion and school segregation. “It’s a shame the liberal left is using fabricated political smears to suppress the voice of a strong conservative woman."
Vitter, a staunch pro-life supporter, has caught the ire of the pro-death, baby-killing Democrats in the US Senate.
After doing all he can to kill the oil and gas industry here in the State of Louisiana, our own "Honor Code" and the Louisiana version of Barack Obama, John Bel Edwards, has come out with a statement touting the creation of a whopping 150 new jobs in the Monroe area with CenturyLink.
I would be more likely to believe that this deal was done in response to the recent changes in the tax system implemented by the Republicans in Congress and pushed by President Trump rather that the "business climate" within this state. "Honor Code" has done nothing in his two years as governor, other than raise taxes on both the citizens of the state and the companies that do business here.
If there is anything more apparent that this clown tripped into his office, then I don't know any. The sanctimonious Vitter critics should be proud of the circus being run in Louisiana. But don't blame it on us that supported the Republican candidate in the last governor's election. We all voted for Vitter.
One of the names being floated about to fill a seat in the Trump Cabinet is outgoing Sen. David Vitter, who is being named as a candidate for the Secretary of the Dept. of the Treasury.
One avenue Trump might take to strike a balance would be to nominate a high-ranking Republican Congressmen with a history of taking a skeptical stance toward Wall Street, like Louisiana Senator David Vitter, who has supported measures that would break up too-big to fail banks, and is planning to retire from the Senate this year.
Clinton Foundation admits to non-disclosure of $1 million “birthday gift” from foreign government, violating Secretary Clinton’s ethics agreement and kept it from oversight
(Metairie, La.) – U.S. Senator David Vitter (R-La.) today released the following statement upon the Clinton Foundation admitting to the non-disclosure of a $1,000,000 gift from the government of Qatar to the Clinton Foundation for Bill Clinton’s birthday. The non-disclosure violates a 2009 ethics agreement then-Senator Hillary Clinton signed to be nominated for the position of Secretary of State, and testimony she gave before Congress. Vitter was one of two Senators to vote against Secretary Clinton’s nomination, mainly due to the lack of oversight of Clinton’s conflicts of interest regarding the Foundation’s foreign donations.
“Hillary Clinton clearly thinks the rules do not apply to her, a sentiment the American people are sick and tired of seeing from Washington political elites,” said Vitter. “By refusing to disclose donations from foreign governments to ethics officials, Hillary Clinton directly violated the conditions of her nomination to be Secretary of State. She has shown she has no regard for the security of our classified information and this shows she can’t even follow simple ethics rules she swore to uphold.”
On December 12, 2008, the Clinton Foundation entered into an agreement with the newly elected Obama Administration via a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which determined that as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton would not conduct affairs with any person or organization with which she is negotiating or has any arrangement concerning prospective employment, or financial interest. The MOU clarified the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) would be separated from the Foundation and would no longer accept contributions from foreign governments and would suspend plans for events outside the United States during Secretary Clinton’s tenure. Additionally, the MOU stated that a State Department designated agency ethics official would manage conflicts of interest or even the appearance of conflicts of interest:
“A designated agency ethics official will review and advise her with respect to any activity that may be imputed under 18 U.S.C 208 or any other applicable law or regulation, to her as a potential or actual conflict of interest.” (Emphasis added)
On January 13, 2009, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations held a confirmation hearing for Clinton to be Secretary of State. During the hearing, Vitter and Committee Ranking Republican Senator Richard Lugar (R-Indiana) questioned Clinton on potential conflicts of interest between CGI and the State Department, including suspect donations from foreign governments – pressing her to adopt higher standards to avoid future conflicts of interest. Vitter questioned the strength of the MOU, which put the burden of transparency on CGI, and when he called for a stronger MOU that would ensure a higher standard of federal oversight, Clinton responded, “CGI is not in the Memorandum of Understanding because they already have a practice of disclosing all of their contributions. There is no need to require it.”
Senator Lugar detailed the shortcomings in the five-page MOU and asked Clinton to agree to ceasing acceptance of new foreign contributions while serving as Secretary of State, to which she responded the agreement was sufficient based on, “My husband doesn’t take a salary. He has no financial interests in any of this. I don’t take a salary. I have no financial interests.”
Additionally, the MOU stated that “apart from attendance fees for CGI, it will not accept contributions from foreign governments.” After being pressed by Vitter on this issue, Clinton promised to provide further disclosures related to foreign donors as well as to provide an addendum to the Committee. It’s now clear they did not disclose the $1,000,000 donation from Qatar.
Vitter, Grassley, Cassidy Demand Criminal, Immigration History of Alleged Illegal Alien Bus Driver Following Fatal Louisiana Crash
(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator David Vitter (R-La.), along with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.), today sent a letter to Jeh Johnson, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), demanding background information on the driver of a bus that collided with emergency personnel who were responding to another incident on a Louisiana roadway, killing two individuals and injuring scores more. The driver, Denis Yasmir Amaya Rodriguez, is allegedly in the country illegally and had a history of driving without a license. He was driving a bus reportedly full of other foreign nationals when the collision occurred on August 28, which killed a local fire chief Spencer Chauvin and civilian passenger Jermaine Starr.
“This past Sunday, two American lives were tragically cut short in a bus crash in St. John the Baptist Parish, and my thoughts and prayers remain with their families,” said Vitter. “As we continue looking into the circumstances surrounding the bus crash, it’s troubling to know that the driver responsible is an illegal alien who did not have the proper documentation to be legally driving in the United States. This tragedy absolutely could have been prevented, and it's important for Secretary Johnson to cooperate in investigating the illegal alien who took two innocent American lives on Sunday, including any prior criminal activity.”
“Sadly, this is yet another story in a long line of stories where innocent American citizens have been killed or injured by an illegal alien who has complete disregard for the laws of this nation,” wrote the Senators in today's letter.
In their letter, the Senators are requesting records related to Rodriguez’ immigration history, including when he entered the United States, whether he applied for immigration benefits, such as deferred deportation, details on any immigration court orders, proceedings or notices and detainer or notification requests. The Senators are also seeking details on his criminal history, including prior arrests, charges, dispositions, jurisdictions and explanations for any releases from custody. Specifically, they are asking about any affiliations with criminal gangs and whether Rodriguez would have been considered an enforcement priority prior to the bus incident based on his previous encounters with law enforcement. Further, the Senators are seeking details on the company that chartered the bus, how Rodriguez was allowed to operate it without a proper license, and whether immigration authorities are examining the immigration status of the bus’s other passengers. Finally, the Senators are asking whether immigration authorities have been in contact with victims or their families regarding the incident.
Below is the text of today’s letter, or click here to read today’s letter.
August 30, 2016
The Honorable Jeh Johnson
Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528
Dear Secretary Johnson:
On August 28, Denis Yasmir Amaya Rodriguez, an illegal alien from Honduras, was driving a charter bus without a license when he allegedly lost control of the bus and crashed into a firetruck that was responding to a previous accident. Two individuals were killed, Jermaine Starr, a back-seat passenger in a car Mr. Rodriguez rear-ended, and Spencer Chauvin, the St. John the Baptist Parish Fire District Chief, and dozens of others were wounded.
Trooper Melissa Matey, a spokeswoman for the Louisiana State Police, indicated that a majority of the passengers on the bus were believed to be foreign nationals, all of whom were reportedly on their way to Baton Rouge to assist with clean up following the recent, devastating floods in the area. At the time of this letter, the immigration status of these individuals remains unclear, as well as how Mr. Rodriguez came to be in command of the bus.
An August 28, 2016 report by the New Orleans Advocate also indicates that Mr. Rodriguez had been pulled over by Jefferson Parish authorities on August 5, and cited for driving without a license. Sadly, this is yet another story in a long line of stories where innocent American citizens have been killed or injured by an illegal alien who has complete disregard for the laws of this nation.
In light of the fact that Mr. Rodriguez is an illegal alien, please provide the following information no later than September 12, 2016:
1. The alien registration number for Rodriguez, his complete alien file (A-file), including any temporary files, working files, or Service Center files, and all documents and items contained in them, all reports or notifications generated by DHS or in its possession about him, whether currently in written or electronic form, including, but not limited to, the Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Executive Summary, criminal history or immigration summaries, detainers or requests for notification, I-213(s), and Notice(s) to Appear or other charging documents created to seek his removal from the United States.
2. Please identify each and every date on which Rodriguez was encountered by a law enforcement agency in the United States, to include criminal and civil arrests, the nature of the charge, the jurisdiction where the arrest occurred, the disposition of that charge, the date(s) on which he was released from the custody of that law enforcement agency, and the reason(s) for the release. Please provide the arrest and disposition documentation for each encounter.
3. How and when did Rodriguez enter the United States? Was he ever served with a Notice to Appear? Was it filed with an immigration court? Please explain.
4. Did Rodriguez ever apply for any immigration benefits, including deferred action? If so, was any application approved? Please provide copies of any applications that he may have submitted, whether or not adjudicated.
5. Has Rodriguez been removed previously? If so, when?
6. Has ICE issued a detainer or request for notification to any entity regarding Rodriguez? Please explain.
7. Was Rodriguez a member of, or associated with any criminal gang? Please explain.
8. If Rodriguez had been encountered by DHS enforcement officials prior to his arrest for murder, would he have met the requirements to be considered a priority for removal under the Administration’s Priority Enforcement Program? If so, please provide the exact reason for such consideration. If not, why not?
9. Have the victims, or their immediate family members, been contacted by officials at ICE? Please provide details.
10. Is DHS investigating who or what company chartered the bus and hired Mr. Rodriguez to operate it without a valid commercial driver’s license?
11. Is ICE working to determine the immigration status of the passengers on the bus Mr. Rodriguez was driving?
As you know, the Privacy Act authorizes disclosure of information to Committees of Congress. If you cannot fully respond to each and every request for documents or information set forth above, please identify the specific item requested to which you cannot fully respond and explain why you cannot respond.
Charles E. Grassley
Senate Committee on the Judiciary
Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest
Bill Cassidy, M.D.
FBI Says Hillary Clinton Was "Extremely Careless"
(Metairie, La.) – U.S. Senator David Vitter (R-La.) today released the following statement upon the conclusion of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's inappropriate and controversial email practices during her time as secretary of state. The FBI concluded they will not recommend pursuing criminal charges. FBI Director James Comey has previously stated, “We (the FBI) don’t normally make public our recommendations to the prosecutors….”
“Hillary Clinton gravely mishandled sensitive information and put our national security at risk—not by mistake, but as part of an elaborate system of private servers and the like designed to hide politically damaging information,” Vitter said. “Despite the facts uncovered during the FBI's investigation, today's announcement essentially gives her a pass based on politics, pure and simple. The American people are sick and tired of the Washington elite insiders living under a different set of rules than everyone else, and Director Comey’s statements today sets a dangerous precedent moving forward.”
In a press conference this morning, Director Comey recommended no criminal charges against former Secretary Clinton, although he said that she was "extremely careless" and her colleagues were irresponsible in the handling of sensitive information. Comey continued noting that “this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences.” Click here to read Director Comey’s remarks.
Last week and just days before Comey was expected to make a public recommendation, Bill Clinton met with Attorney General Loretta Lynch aboard a private plane at Phoenix Sky Harbor airport, raising serious concerns over conflicts of interest. A formal announcement from Lynch on the Justice Department's next steps in this case is expected in the near future.
Vitter has been a vocal advocate for pushing the U.S. State Department to turn over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s records from her private email domain, including emails regarding the State Department’s decision against designating Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), citing concerns about conflicts of interest between Clinton, the Clinton Foundation, and her position as Secretary of State. As of yet, he has not received an adequate response. Click here to read more.
In 2015, Vitter also wrote to the Inspector Generals of the Department of State and Inspector General of the Intelligence Community over Administration efforts to shut out oversight of Secretary Clinton’s emails. Click here to read more. Following Vitter’s letter, the Intelligence Community IG (ICIG) responded that Vitter “correctly state(d), that the ICIG had not had unfettered access with regard to the (ICIG) ongoing review of classified Intelligence Community (IC) information in personal emails of State Department employees.
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator David Vitter (R-La.) called for the resignation of Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) Robert McDonald. In addition to McDonald’s controversial statement yesterday comparing VA wait times to those at Disneyland, Vitter contends McDonald’s leadership at the VA has failed to improve efficiency within the agency.
“Our nation’s veterans who have sacrificed so much deserve far more than insulting, ignorant jokes and a prolonged failure to fix the major problems within the agency,” said Vitter. “Not only has Secretary McDonald blatantly ignored Congressional requests and concerns regarding his choice in personnel, but he has also been very well aware of the terrible wait times in Louisiana including the VA’s failures to get the outpatient clinics completed. He’s dragged his feet in Louisiana, and this insulting Disneyland analogy sums up what many thought of him. Leadership starts at the top, and the VA needs a leader who will prioritize implementing necessary reforms to better serve our veterans. For the sake of our brave men and women in uniform, it’s high time for Secretary McDonald to turn in his resignation.”
Vitter has been critical of Secretary McDonald’s leadership of the VA. Most recently, McDonald appointed Dr. Skye McDougall to be Director of the South Central Veterans Affairs Health Care Network (VISN 16) who lied under oath during a congressional hearing. McDougall lied under oath to Committee members indicating the average wait time for a medical appointment at her then-assigned post in Los Angeles, California was 4 days. CNN later reported that she was lying and the average wait time for new patients at that facility was actually 44 days. Click here to read more.
Vitter, along with Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.), has also been working to establish permanent VA clinics in Southwest Louisiana. The lawmakers recently held a call with VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson and Peter Dancy, the new director of the Alexandria Veterans Affairs Health Care System (AVAHCS), to ensure the projects are completed by the end of the year. Click here to read more.
Vitter submits Congressional Record for Frank Levingston, the nation's oldest WWII veteran who passed away on May 3, 2016
(Washington, D.C.) - U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) today submitted to the Congressional Record a recognition of the life and achievements of Frank “Uncle Frank” Levingston of Lake Charles, La. Levingston was the oldest veteran of World War II until his passing on May 3, 2016.
“As the oldest living World War II veteran, Levingston played an active role in building a greater United States for future generations. It is a privilege to recognize Frank Levingston who was a true American hero. His many accomplishments and commitment to serve his country will not be forgotten,” said Vitter.
Vitter met with Levingston at the Fort Polk Veterans Day Ceremony on November 10, 2014
Levingston was born on November 13, 1905 in Cotton Valley, La. When the United States entered World War II after the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, Levingston joined the United States Army, where he dutifully served as a Private and Automobile Serviceman and participated in the Allied invasion of Italy. After his honorable discharge from the Army in 1945, he became a union worker specializing in cement finishing. In 1981 Levingston moved to Lake Charles, La., which he called home for the rest of his life.
Levingston will be laid to rest on Tuesday, May 10, 2016, at the Wesley Grove CME Church in his hometown of Cotton Valley, La.
Below are excerpts from Vitter’s remarks:
“Today I rise to commemorate the sixth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that took the lives of 11 men and devastated many Gulf Coast communities. The men who lost their lives during this devastating incident will not be forgotten. Their names were:
Jason Anderson – 35, Midfield, Texas
Aaron Dale “Bubba” Burkeen – 37, Philadelphia, Mississippi
Donald Clark – 49, Newelton, Louisiana
Stephen Ray Curtis – 40, Georgetown, Louisiana
Gordon Jones – 28, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Roy Wyatt Kemp – 27, Jonesville, Louisiana
Karl Dale Kleppinger, Jr. – 38, Natchez, Mississippi
Keith Blair Manuel – 56, Gonzales, Louisiana
Dewey Revette – 48, State Line, Mississippi
Shane Roshto – 22, Liberty, Mississippi and
Adam Weise – 24, Yorktown, Texas
“In Louisiana, offshore oil and gas development is more than just our state’s largest economic drivers – it is a way of life, having supporting countless jobs and families across the region. That’s why our top priority must always be maintaining the highest level of safety standards, and in the last six years, we have been working to make sure this kind of human tragedy and subsequent economic losses never happen again. We must support policies that create a strong balance between having a strong regulatory scheme that promotes stringent safety standards while also allowing the energy industry to thrive. Fortunately, Louisiana’s resilience and recovery cannot be easily measured in terms of numbers and figures, but I can say with confidence that each and every Louisianian should be proud of how far we have come in recent years.
“In the six years since the tragic Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Louisiana has done what we do best – recover, rebuild, and progress. In order to build a brighter future for our families, businesses, and communities, we must also protect the symbiotic relationship between federal regulations and the oil and gas industry.”
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator David Vitter (R-La.), along with U.S. Representatives Diane Black (R-Tenn.) and Pete Olson (R-Texas), issued the following statements regarding the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) decision to investigate the use of federal funding allocated to Planned Parenthood and other federally funded organizations that perform or promote abortions in response to the Members’ request last month.
“For years Planned Parenthood and their pro-abortion allies have deceived the public on how they spend their taxpayer dollars,” said Senator David Vitter. “We absolutely need to shed light on how these types of organizations are spending federal funds, and I suspect the forthcoming GAO report will confirm our fears of Planned Parenthood’s inexcusable misuse of taxpayer dollars for abortion.”
“I thank the GAO for acting responsibly and committing to carry out our request for an independent review of the taxpayer funding provided to Planned Parenthood and related organizations,” said Congressman Diane Black. “As a nurse for more than 40 years, I know that abortion is not healthcare and I am incensed that, year after year, my constituents see their money sent to Washington and distributed to organizations that promote or perform abortions all under the guise of ‘healthcare’ services. This is a sham and it is an affront to the conscience rights of every American taxpayer. By shining a light on the federal funding allocated to these organizations we can mobilize the support needed to defund the big abortion industry and reroute those dollars to organizations that uphold life while protecting women’s health.”
“I applaud the GAO’s decision to fulfill our request to provide more taxpayer transparency on organizations that promote or perform abortions. While I remain committed to defunding Planned Parenthood and protecting the unborn, at a minimum, Americans deserve to know where their tax dollars are going. I look forward to seeing the results of this report and increasing awareness and support to end taxpayer support for these organizations,” said Congressman Pete Olson.
In March 2016, Vitter, Black, and Olson led a group of more than 120 Members of Congress requesting the GAO to investigate how taxpayer funding is specifically used by Planned Parenthood and other federally funded organizations that perform or promote abortion. Click here to read more.
Vitter has been a consistent advocate for the sanctity of human life in both the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives, earning a 100% pro-life voting record from the National Right to Life Committee.
Vitter has legislation to protect small businesses from new overreaching rule
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator David Vitter (R-La.) issued the following statement upon the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) issuing its final well-control rule on offshore oil and gas drilling. As Chairman of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, Vitter has introduced an amendment to the Energy Policy Modernization Act that would protect small businesses from the economic severity of DOI’s well control rule.
“As we approach the sixth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that took the lives of 11 men in the Gulf of Mexico and devastated our coasts, my top priority continues to be ensuring this kind of human tragedy and subsequent economic losses never happens again. Maintaining high safety standards always takes precedence, but that is not the question here,” said Vitter. “What the Obama Administration’s ongoing anti-energy and anti-jobs crusade fails to acknowledge is that Louisiana’s energy industry supports families, small businesses, and our ongoing coastal restoration efforts. The Department of Interior’s well-control rule is bad news for Louisiana, and certainly has the potential to kick our oil and gas industry while it’s down.”
In September 2015, Vitter testified before the House Natural Resources Committee on the impacts of federal policies on energy production and economic growth in the Gulf of Mexico. Click here to read more.
Following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, President Obama imposed a drilling moratorium in the Gulf, which substantially damaged Louisiana’s energy industry and economy. During that time, Vitter successfully blocked the nomination of Interior Department nominee Dan Ashe until the Department issued fifteen deepwater exploration well permits and responded to his previous requests for answers on the permitting process. Vitter also successfully blocked a nearly $20,000 pay raise for Interior Secretary Ken Salazar until Interior resumed issuing new permits at the same rate as before the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Vitter was an original co-sponsor of the RESTORE Act, which dedicates at least 80 percent of the Clean Water Act (CWA) penalties paid by BP and other responsible parties to the Gulf States to restore coastal ecosystems and economies damaged by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Vitter shepherded the legislation through the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, where it passed unanimously in November 2011 and through the Senate in March 2012. As a leading Republican conferee on the Highway Bill and the only member from the Louisiana delegation involved in the negotiations, Vitter continued to make the enactment of the RESTORE Act a top priority by insisting that the language be included in the final version of the bill.
Louisiana dedicates 100 percent of the revenue from offshore oil and gas development to coastal restoration, which is Louisiana’s highest environmental priority. In 2006 Vitter helped pass the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA), which established revenue sharing of 37.5 percent that Gulf States - Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama - could collect from offshore oil and gas production. Vitter is continuing the fight to expand the number of states receiving OCS revenue sharing and, starting in 2027, raise the amount of money each state could get per year from $500 million to $1 billion
Federal judge grants final approval for 2010 BP oil spill settlement; Louisiana to receive more than $6.8 billion for restoration efforts
(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) issued the following statement regarding a federal judge granting final approval for $20.8 billion British Petroleum (BP) settlement agreement for civil claims as a result of 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. This is an increase to the $18.7 billion, which was originally announced in July. Louisiana is expected to receive more than $6.8 billion. Funds are to be paid out over the next 16 years. Vitter was an original co-sponsor of the RESTORE Act, which dedicates at least 80 percent of the Clean Water Act penalties paid by BP and other responsible parties to Louisiana and other Gulf States to restore coastal ecosystems and economies damaged by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
“Louisiana has been working nonstop to overcome the devastating losses along our coastline, in our coastal communities, and in our economy,” said Vitter. “Eleven men tragically lost their lives in the devastating explosion and oil spill, and in the five years since, Louisiana has done what we do best – recover, rebuild, and progress. While it has been an uphill battle to ensure that Louisiana was fairly compensated, we did achieve substantive wins, including passing the RESTORE Act, and the final approval of the $20 billion BP settlement provides Louisiana the long-awaited avenue to advance the rebuilding and revitalizing process.”
The BP settlement agreement includes:
• $5.5 billion federal Clean Water Act penalty, plus interest;
• $8.1 billion in natural resource damages, including restoring coastal habitats; and
• $600 million in claims for reimbursement of federal and state natural resources damage assessments costs and other unreimbursed federal expenses.
Today’s settlement will include $5.5 billion in the Clean Water Act civil penalties, as well as additional billions to cover environmental damages. As a leading Republican conferee on the Highway Bill in 2012 and the only member from the Louisiana delegation involved in the negotiations, Vitter ensured that the final version of the bill included language requiring the enactment of the RESTORE Act.
In the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and resulting moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico, Vitter pushed the Administration and the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) to ensure that those in the Louisiana seafood industry who were directly impacted were not ignored. In the initial claims process, very few fishermen, seafood processors, and distributors whose jobs were directly tied to the offshore spill zone were paid. As a result of Vitter’s action, businesses and individuals in retail sales and service jobs, such as restaurants, bars or hotels, were able to get their claims processed quickly.
Earlier this week, Vitter joined other Republicans on the Committee in sending a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell indicating that they will exercise their constitutional authority to withhold consent of a Supreme Court nomination and will not hold hearings on a Supreme Court nominee until the next President is sworn in.
Vitter Releases GAO Reports: Huge Oversight Failures with Illegal Immigrants Sending Money to Foreign Countries
Vitter legislation cracks down on money wired out of the U.S. by illegal immigrants
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) released two new reports he requested from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the federal government’s watchdog, which show the major problems with how the U.S. government tracks foreign remittances, particularly from illegal immigrants. One of the reports also underscores the importance of passing Vitter’s legislation, S. 79, The Remittance Status Verification Act, also known as the Wire Act.
In January 2013, Vitter first introduced his legislation that requires a fee on remittances for customers who wire money to another country but cannot prove that they are in the United States legally. The fee would be used to enhance border security. In July 2014, Vitter and U.S. House Budget Chairman Tom Price M.D. (R-Ga.) requested a full audit from the GAO to study the problems. Vitter re-introduced his legislation this Congress in January 2015.
“The Obama administration has shown a complete lack of both competence and interest when it comes to securing our borders and enforcing our immigration laws. And that’s costing us a lot of money. Billions, in fact,” Vitter said. “The GAO reports I have requested and made public today help us determine how massive the remittances problem is with illegal immigrants sending billions out of the U.S. – money they likely haven’t paid income taxes on. What my legislation would do is basically improve on our border security while making illegal immigrants pay for it.”
The GAO produced two concurrent reports upon Vitter’s request. You can access them here:
- Money Laundering Risk and Views on Enhanced Customer Verification and Recordkeeping Requirements (GAO-16-60)
- Actions Needed to Address Unreliable Official U.S. Estimate (GAO-16-65)
In 2006, GAO noted that the United States was the largest remittance-sending country in the world. Foreign-born residents in the United States remitted nearly $38 billion to households abroad, and estimates from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) have shown that $25 billion each year comes from illegals.
Today’s newly released GAO report includes updated estimates from 2014, which confirms that the U.S. is still the largest remittance-sending country in the world. In 2014 alone, foreign-born residents sent an estimated $54.2 billion in remittances, most of it going to Mexico. The GAO, citing the World Bank’s Bilateral Remittance Matrix, estimates that $25 billion was sent to Mexico, $15 billion to China, and $10 billion to India as the top three beneficiaries.
Key Findings from the GAO:
► Accounting for remittances is completely insufficient. GAO recommends updated accounting and enforcement measures. Below are excerpts from the report:
- “Remittance Transfers Pose Money Laundering Risks” (Pg 31, 16-65)
- “…According to IRS data, the results of examinations of money transmitters from fiscal years 2013 and 2014 showed that the top three most frequently cited violations were failure to comply with AML program requirements, failure to file suspicious activity reports, and inadequate recordkeeping of funds transfers.” (Pg 51, 16-65)
- “…limited information exists on how many of these individuals (illegal immigrants) remit or the extent to which they rely on regulated methods.” (Pg 12, 16-60)
- “We found shortcomings in BEA’s model, specifically with regard to the assumptions BEA made about the percentage of income remitted and the percentage of foreign-born persons who remit.” (Pg 36, 16-60)
►Vitter’s legislation could raise up to $1 billion for border security according to GAO scenarios. Excerpt on estimates below:
- “…if 18 billion in remittances are sent by individuals without legal status before the implementation of S.79 … under a scenario with no change in the amount of remittances $1.29 billion in potential net revenue for border protection.” (Pg 15, 16-60)
►Vitter’s legislation would create a disincentive for illegal immigrants to send money to their home countries, resulting in that money likely staying in the U.S. economy. Excerpts below:
- “Representatives from almost all of the organizations we spoke with, including providers, researchers, federal agencies, and community groups, stated that remitters without legal status may be deterred by the final and the additional scrutiny around their immigration status…” (Pg 11, 16-60)
- In 2015 the Department of Treasury found that illegal immigrants were encouraged by human smuggling rings to use remittance service providers to repay. (Outlined on Pg 36, 16-65)
►A large portion of the estimated $54 billion of remittances exiting the U.S. is sent by illegal immigrants, and more research is required.
- “With regard to the likelihood of remittances, one study of Mexican migrants finds that unauthorized immigrants are more likely to remit, …” (Pg 13, 16-60)
►The federal government’s lack of accountability and enforcement of current remittances laws could mean money being sent to terrorist, drug trafficking or human tracking organizations is going unnoticed. Excerpts below:
- “…a large percentage of human smuggling fees were sent using money transmitters because these providers offered a quick and reliable method of transfer with some degree of perceived anonymity for the smugglers…” (Pg 37, 16-65)
- “…over $12 million in suspected illicit human smuggling proceeds were sent to Texas border cities through money transmitters in the 4-month period between January and April 2015.” (Pg 39, 16-65)
- “Many law enforcement officials supported a requirement for reporting information on remittances. … Furthermore, DHS and DOJ officials we spoke with for this report said that information on remittance senders that could be collected in a centralized database could be analyzed to help identify illicit activity and would be useful in AML efforts.” (Pg 41, 16-65)
- “FinCEN is still evaluating ways to implement the 2010 proposed rule…” (Pg 42, 16-65)
- “DHS officials did say that knowing senders’ legal immigration status could be beneficial if DHS was looking at potentially removing illegal immigrants from the country. But they added that the verification requirements could drive remitters to informal remittance systems. One official noted that although criminals could turn to alternative methods of transferring money to avoid being identified, it could take several years to establish a new criminal financial network, and could result in a positive AML effect for a time—at least until the criminals identified alternative networks.” (Pg 44, 16-65)
State Treasurer Kohn Kennedy released this via his Facebook page this morning:
I will be a candidate for the United States Senate in 2016.
The reason is pretty simple: I want my country back. I'm scared we are losing it.
My Dad and Mom were conservative people. Dad was a small businessman. He owned a little lumberyard. Mom was a retired schoolteacher. They taught me conservative values: God, country, family, discipline, hard work, and education. They taught me to always do the best I can. I worry that America is losing those values.
Here's what I see: too many undeserving people at the top getting bailouts and too many undeserving people at the bottom getting handouts. And we in the middle get the bill. So will our kids. It's not right.
The sad truth is that our children's generation is at risk of becoming the first in America to be worse off than their parents', because it's harder than ever to get ahead and easier than ever to do nothing.
I want more for my country and my state.
I want a country that respects taxpayer dollars. I'm sick of the waste, and I'm sick of the debt.
I want an America and a Louisiana where every person can get a decent job. You can't be for jobs if you are against business. To create jobs, our businesses need low taxes, sensible regulations, good infrastructure and a skilled workforce.
I want an America and a Louisiana in which no parents have to send their child to a failing school.
I want an America and a Louisiana where parents can take their sick child to a family doctor instead of to an emergency room because they have decent, affordable insurance of their own choosing from the private sector.
I want a country that is strong and therefore free, that values peace but is not afraid to fight back. America is the most powerful country in the history of the world. We need to start acting like it.
I want an America and a Louisiana that understand that free market capitalism has done more to lift people out of poverty than all the government programs put together. Welfare was meant to be a bridge, not a parking lot.
I want a country and a state that protect life – whether that life is 82 years old or 82 seconds.
Most Louisianians know me and what I stand for. As State Treasurer, I've balanced 16 department budgets, earned taxpayers $3.4 billion by investing their money wisely, returned $315 million in lost money to citizens, refused to join the state retirement system, fought against corruption and cronyism, and stood up to politicians more powerful than I am in both parties.
I try not to be rude, but I speak my mind. Some politicians call me a troublemaker, a misfit, a rebel, a square peg in a round hole, because I'm not part of the club. I think I make the right people mad. My job is to protect taxpayers, not seek the approval of my political peers.
I hope voters will give me a chance to do the same thing in the United States Senate. I believe our country and our state can be better than our present, and our past.
May God bless us and keep us, and make his face shine upon us, Louisiana and the United States of America.”
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator David Vitter (R-La.) released the following statement upon Senate Democrats blocking the American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act (SAFE Act). The SAFE Act creates a process to verify the backgrounds of refugees entering the U.S., ensuring they do not have ties to terrorist organizations.
“The facts are clear. As of right now, the federal government does not have complete and adequate safeguards in place to protect Americans here at home as additional Syrian refugees are admitted into the U.S. We need to achieve a higher standard of safety, secure our borders, and keep out all terrorists, and voting in favor of the SAFE Act is a small step in the right direction to do just that,” said Vitter.
In November 2015, Vitter introduced the Syrian Refugee Verification and Safety Act (S.2284), a bill which would halt the influx of all refugees from Syria until proper measures are in place to verify that each refugee is who they claim to be. Click here to read more.
In September 2015, Vitter sent a letter to President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry demanding detailed information on protocols in place to protect Americans and Louisianians from potentially violent Syrian refugees, citing concerns with insufficient federal oversight in relation to Syrian refugees coming to the United States.
The SAFE Act would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) to take actions necessary to ensure that refugees entering the United States receives a proper background investigation by implementing the following:
·Requiring background checks on any and all individuals who meet the definition of a “covered alien” status: (1) are a national or resident of Iraq or Syria; (2) have no nationality but whose last known residence was Iraq or Syria; or (3) have visited Iraq or Syria after March, 1 2011;
·Instructing the DHS inspector General to conduct annual risk-based reviews of certifications;
·Requiring DHS to disclose to Congress how many “covered alien” refugees apply for and receive admission into the United States.
The SAFE Act would also require that a refugee only be admitted to the United States after DHS, with concurrence from the FBI and the DNI, certifies to Congress that he or she is not such a threat.
The Vitter campaign has released another video highlighting Vitter's acknowledged failures, but emphasizing biblical redemption, with Willie Robertson of Duck Dynasty. It also emphasizes needed leadership in Louisiana at this time, with Robertson showing obvious support for the Vitter campaign.
'A House Divided' Revisited - A Letter to Authentic Conservatives of Louisiana
In 1858, a young America found itself on the verge of disintegrating into the annals of history to join the likes of Rome. Knowing well the stakes were of the highest sort, President Abraham Lincoln, resolved as ever, prevented the eternal downfall of our country by turning to - among other things - a simple truism that was (is) paramount, timeless and universal in nature. In an historic speech, President Lincoln warned the people of the United States exactly as Jesus once warned his disciples, telling the nation, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” We all know the rest of the story (or at least we all should). Now, 157 years later, we Louisiana conservatives find ourselves cast in the lead roles of our own collective story of a house divided amongst three conservative gubernatorial candidates and their respective supporters. Because our current scenario is also one with vast implications, my fear is that, at the individual level, idealism could carry the day over pragmatism. This would result in – by default - the handing over of victory to the true opposition by way of a silent minority. I find that possibility unbelievably unsettling. Therefore, I challenge anyone dwelling in this political purgatory to act out of reason rather than dogma in this critically polarized run-off.
To ensure victory for Senator David Vitter in the upcoming run-off is to ensure victory for every conservative stakeholder in Louisiana. Yet - in light of recent news - I have deep concerns that the simplicity of this observation could potentially be lost on enough primary supporters of Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne and Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle to indirectly elect as our next Governor a man who actually nominated Barrack Obama for a second term...after witnessing the train wreck that was his first term! Take a moment to let that sink in...
If there is one thing that, in theory, all conservatives have in common, it is the recognition that President Obama’s agenda has sought to erode the foundation of our country and systematically destroy the American way of life. Therefore, it should be a foregone conclusion that conservatives will do whatever is within their powers to counteract any and all further proliferation of the Obama agenda up-to and including serving defeat to any candidate for high public office who had any part in giving this man the Presidency the first time (much less the second!). So why are we left with questionable uncertainty as to whether Dardenne's supporters and Angelle and his voters will now be backing David Vitter with an official public endorsement and at the polls? I believe, for many, the answer to this question is rooted in a fallacious allegiance we, as humans, tend to have towards our individual idealisms. To our dismay, however, idealism only succeeds outside of our current reality and at the expense of real-world solutions.
One need not be Dr. Ben Carson to see that some portion of Dardenne and Angelle backers are disenchanted with the outcome of the primary. That is to be expected, but such a reaction among voters in this cliché scenario certainly is not exceptional. After a competitive primary where candidates routinely tear each other down, there is always to be expected negative emotional aftermath. Rejection has occurred for some people at the “expense” of a selection which has been made by the selectors. The selection almost instinctively becomes the negative outlet for the suffering felt by the rejected (See: Dardenne officially endorses Edwards). It is at this very juncture where we as conservatives must lead from that part within us which makes us the complete opposite of liberals to begin with: reason! Perhaps Thomas Sowell better captures the sentiment in which I am here trying to impart when he wrote, “Wishful thinking is not idealism. It is self-indulgence at best and self-exaltation at worst. In either case, it is usually at the expense of others. In other words, it is the opposite of idealism.” I think we can guess as to what Sowell would say of Dardenne's recent betrayal... Still, I wonder: what portion of voters who pulled the lever for Dardenne or Angelle last month could be caught up in a similar state of self-indulgent idealism to the point they become, in the eyes of their own party, "traitors?" I pray that number will turn out to be 0% after the election returns are in...
Some may retort that my entreaty to every single one of Dardenne’s and Angelle’s supporters (and to Mr. Angelle himself) is null because I am a primary supporter of David Vitter for Governor. Even in that sense, they would be largely mistaken. I give my word that, if our current scenario were altered whereby I voted for Vitter (which I did), but either Dardenne or Angelle became the nominee, I would not only vote for whichever gentleman was the nominee, but would go to great lengths to ensure that I convinced every primary Vitter supporter I could find to vote for our party's nominee. Reason, again, dictates that success is achieved by focusing on solutions rather than “problems.”
I present one final alternative way of looking at this situation in general: most of us (including myself) can easily lose site of the actual “who” and “what” for which we are voting in the first place. It’s easy to think that we are voting for a person – a candidate – alone. Yet the reality is that we are voting for each other concurrently. When I think of all the candidates whom we've elected who is (also) “voting” for us, I think of Senator David Vitter. I could be no more pleased with the representation he has made for us in the Senate with his solid, consistent record of representation of his constituency. How rare is that? Still, I am completely confident that he will make an even better Governor. We have yet to see the best of Vitter. I have no doubt!
For anyone still left with a sigh at this point, here is the hard line in the sand, which William F. Buckley, Jr. gave me the words to draw: “Idealism is fine, but as it approaches reality, the costs become prohibitive.” Despite our individual ideal outcomes for this race, we are now – like it or not – standing on the ledge of reality. Since we know what that reality is, we then know the cost of Dardenne, Angelle and their respective supporters not rallying behind David Vitter for Governor because they hoped for a different primary outcome. That cost would indeed be prohibitive. For one, by withholding support for the sake of making a point will be self-sabotaging for all who do so (join Dardenne at your own risk). Do I have to even enumerate the myriad of ways in which this is true to my fellow conservatives? Another - and arguably far worse - reason why not lending full support to Vitter is inherently prohibitive is that such a position (or lack thereof) would be held at the expense of others whom do not deserve to be subjected to such victimization over what is, now, irrelevant (but destructive) political posturing.
I think I speak on behalf of the conservative majority – silent and/or vocal – in applauding the Public Service Commissioner and all of his and Dardenne's supporters for adjusting their sails and pointing the bow of their ships northward. Louisiana will be all the better for it! Let's not lose this big-league election because of a small (but still large enough) part of our extended conservative family spent too much time majoring in the minors. The time for grieving has passed. It's time now to look toward our future.
Spencer Drury, MBA