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St. Tammany Financial Disclosure Bill

Covington Weekly has an archive of economic development-related articles that suggest St. Tammany Parish is in need of greater transparency with regard to the flow of tax-derived money.

For this reason, a request for a Financial Disclosure Bill in St. Tammany Parish was sent by e-mail to Senator Patrick McMath, Representative Mark Wright and Parish President Mike Cooper.

Representative Wright responded:

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Good Morning Representative Wright,

The St. Tammany Parish Public Financial Disclosure Bill
A bill to disclose all public monies/subsidies/allowances received by any entity operating within the parish of St. Tammany.
While working in the capacity of correspondent for Covington Weekly, I often found information regarding the flow of public money (i.e. money in the arena of parish government and related agencies) to be extremely lacking with regard to the St. Tammany Economic Development Foundation (now defunct).
In researching its origins, I found two pieces of bad legislation, one written by former representative Tim Burns, and another by senator Donahue. One allowed for conflicts of interest to exist between the foundation and other areas of parish government; the other affected the board appointment process. At least one of the pieces of legislation violated the state constitution’s ethics laws.
In another investigation into disaster relief funds, I found that the parish government diverted a portion of hud funds to private development projects, resulting in a wrist-slapping from hud (and probably more oversight).
Then there is the former parish president Brister’s appointment to a Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas that lent exclusively to one local banking family that had something to do with a little utility company.
On a more sinister note, I was contacted by a representative of a local women’s shelter after publishing an article about trafficked children. She wanted to meet and discuss the angle of the article, which described the problem as ‘institutional’.
A week later, she cancelled the meeting, and i was told that her funding was threatened (my speculation is that her funding was threatened for talking to me. She spoke of a facility that consistently sent her individuals that were there to recruit other girls.)
This implicates a local foundation that has a 7 million dollar off-shore account and a larger operating budget than the city of Covington. I’ve gotten the insinuation over the years that another large parish bond-holder may also be implicated in the above scenario.
It is for these reasons that there is a need for full financial disclosure of all entities operating in St. Tammany Parish with any public monies/ subsidies/ allowances.
Every corporation operating in the parish of St. Tammany under revenue bond should be public information with full financial disclosure.
Every non-profit/ foundation receiving any public funding should have full public financial disclosure.
Every religious/church entity receiving any public funding should have full public financial disclosure.
Please consider this information, as my request is a result of my experience.

Best Regards,

Timothy Gates
Wright, Rep. Mark (Chamber Laptop)

Jul 27, 2021, 11:19 AM (20 hours ago)

to me
Thanks for the email Timothy.

Just so I’m clear, are you suggesting I file a bill mandating this or simply look into the matter in St. Tammany?

Mark Wright
Timothy Gates

Jul 27, 2021, 11:51 AM (20 hours ago)

to Mark
I took it upon myself to look into the matter.

Over the years, I communicated with both the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office and the HUD IG with regard to public funds and bond-related issues.

I am asking for a bill mandating full financial disclosure for all entities operating within St. Tammany Parish that receive any public monies/ subsidies /allowances.

There are many examples why this should be in place.

I hope this clarifies the request.

Best Regards,

Timothy Gates
Timothy Gates

Jul 27, 2021, 11:56 AM (20 hours ago)

to fernsolutions
Wright, Rep. Mark (Chamber Laptop)

Tue, Jul 27, 1:10 PM (19 hours ago)

to me
Okay, I’ll look into it. Since the next session isn’t until next Spring, it will be a while until I get back with anything substantial, but I’ll be back in touch.

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From: Timothy Gates
Sent: Tuesday, July 27, 2021 11:51:17 AM
To: Wright, Rep. Mark (Chamber Laptop)
Subject: Re: St. Tammany Parish Public Financial Disclosure Bill

[Message clipped] View entire message
Timothy Gates

Jul 27, 2021, 2:28 PM (17 hours ago)

to Mark
Thank you for your attention and response.

I look forward to hearing further, and I will follow up as well

I find the standard response to be lacking with regard to the material and examples offered.

If you support my efforts toward a financial disclosure bill, PLEASE phone, email, fax, tweet or write a letter to Representative Mark Wright’s office stating as such:

Representative Mark Wright

312 South Jefferson StreetSuite A & BCovington, LA 70433

Phone: (985) 893-6262Fax: (985) 893-6261

Legislative Assistant: Anecia Kenley

Representing Parishes: St. TammanyCorresponding Senate District(s): 11 and 12