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Sen. Landrieu Defends Herself

POSTED: 02:33 AM ET, 01/ 7/2008 by The Editors

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) has attacked The Post's story about how she pushed a campaign contributor's reading program that was adopted by the D.C. schools, telling New Orleans's WWL-TV on Sunday that "the Post is off-base in their accusations and innuendos."

Landrieu, who declined requests for an inteview with The Post before the story ran, defended the $2 million earmark for the Voyager reading program. The earmark came just after Landrieu had received more than $30,000 in campaign contributions at a fundraiser held by Voyager's founder and chairman, Randy Best.

Landrieu spoke during an interivew on the public-affairs program, "Sunday Morning," to WWL-TV's Dennis Woltering about congressional earmarks for local projects, including hurricane protection and roads.

Woltering asked Landrieu about a meeting the senator had with Best in her office, which was followed by a phone call from a fundraiser working for Landrieu.

"Randy Best has held fundraisers for me I think three times over several years," Landrieu said. "I don't know the time frame of when that happened. But people come into my office all the time. We sometimes help them, sometimes don't. They sometimes help us raise money. Sometimes they don't. I have to raise money. I can't fund it privately. There's no public funding for the campaign."

Landrieu said the donations had nothing to do with the earmark.

"I was impressed with this pogram whether they ever contributed a penny to me," Landrieu said. "The program actually worked."

Landrieu contradicted city officials quoted in the story who said they had preferred another program and did not seek the appropriation. A city official had told The Post that they treated the offer from Landrieu's office for the Voyager earmark like "found money."

Said Landrieu: "The program was voluntary. I consulted with the mayor before I provided the money. They didn't have to spend the money on this program, and after all of that, it has been successful."

Landrieu said Best "has a great approach to teaching children to read, and God knows, with the scores our children are showing, we need all the help that we can get."

The senator concluded, saying, "I've answered it and will continue to answer questions. I have absolutely nothing to hide about our relationship."

By The Editors |  January 7, 2008; 2:33 AM ET D.C. Region
Previous: Indian Museum Director Criticized | Next: Latest Abramoff Casualty: Congressman Doolittle


Please email us to report offensive comments.

Mary is from Louisiana. We could use a few earmarks here. Why is our senator getting earmarks for Washington D.C.? This one sure isn't hard to figure out. Give me your money and I'll let you make a hole lot more. Business as usual in D.C.

Posted by: K. Ortego | January 7, 2008 10:01 PM

Sen. Landrieu's not fooling anyone with this. Unless she's just that much more altruistic than the rest of us, the odds are that she's tryign to work a backroom deal here. This is a shame, because I voter for her 6 years ago. I must say, I'm experiencing a bit of buyer's remorse.

Posted by: J. Valenzuela | January 7, 2008 10:42 PM

Hey - she's from Louisiana - are you surprised??

Posted by: thornegp | January 7, 2008 11:01 PM

The system has truly broken down. Someone as good and thoughtful as Ms. Landrieu is hounded by the need to raise more and more money, so then slips the line of integrity and care. Is she alone in this temptation? No, the process of so-called democratic system has fallen and, unfortunately, cannot get up.

Posted by: Tory | January 7, 2008 11:41 PM

She learn at the knee of one of the most polished crooks in Louisiana: her father. It's all about money! What a coincidence! The fellow who conducts fundraisers is an expert on school supplies?

Posted by: campstblue | January 8, 2008 2:04 AM

Campstblue is spot on-the landrieu name has special meaning in Louisiana but not in a positive sense. I pray that the trend started by Jindal continues and we continue to get rid of our elected embarrasments.

Posted by: James Baton Rouge, LA | January 8, 2008 6:41 AM

I don't think anyone here is surprised. How sad that it is all about money in Washington.
I do not remember the last U.S. Senator from our state who returned after retiring. J. Bennet Johnston and John Breaux are lobbying. Breaux didn't even own house here while he served. He used a relative's address.

Someone needs to get a grip on lobbying. Even the children & relatives of members of congress lobby.

How sad.

Posted by: Al from Abbeville, LA | January 8, 2008 8:08 AM

The Senator serves as a Appropriator for the DC area. That is why she is able to get earmarks for them. Obviously, some of you who post on here should take civics over because you don't understand a thing about government, or how it really works to benefit you.

Posted by: dsmith | January 8, 2008 9:28 AM

If you want to cut the ties between the lobbyists and appropriations, public financing of campaigns is the answer. She just as much said so herself. I'm just as dissapointed as anyone, but it's not just a Landrieu or Louisiana problem. It's a problem for every elected official in the country.

Posted by: rupert | January 8, 2008 9:55 AM

This is basically the reason we elected Jindal with a mandate for the proliferation of Ethics Laws with teeth. Every time a Louisiana politician receives negative national notoriety, the citizens of Louisiana end up being the losers...... in jobs, in business and in legitimate return to the state of Federal dollars

Posted by: ET | January 8, 2008 10:05 AM

Good Morning Dsmith. We in Louisiana Do understand civics very well. Landrieu's are synonymous with corruption and ineffective govenment. Ask yourself a question: why didn't her brother, Mitch, defeat an obviously incompetent mayor, Ray Nagin. The answer is that smart informed people who took civics, lived civics and have suffered from civics don't want anymore Landrieu's in public office. They are clanish and self-serving. We understand this too painfully. This is why she WILL be defeated this fall, Emily's list nothwithstanding!

Posted by: campstblue | January 8, 2008 11:55 AM

PS Dsmith:

When her father was mayor he earned $60,000 per annum and was able to put all 8 of his children through private school and purchase a summer home. You do the math.

Posted by: campstblue | January 8, 2008 11:57 AM

Good Morning Campstblue,

To answer your question concerning Mitch's lost to Mayor Nagin it is simply this. The race became about race and nothing else. The people who voted for Nagin were well informed I will agree to that as I know quite a few of them personally. However, at the end of the day the people wanted to retain a African American Mayor. So to say that the name Landrieu is synonymous with corruption and greed is taking this a tad bit to far. But, I guess you would agree that the name Vitter is synonymous with High Morals. BTW, I don't know or personally care about how Moon Landrieu put his children through school, and that shouldn't be an issue when looking at someone to represent us. I do however believe that $60,000 went a lot farther in the 60's and 70's then it does today. I could be wrong, but you do the math.

Posted by: dsmith | January 8, 2008 12:26 PM

Wrong Dsmith.. I am white and live uptown. I would never vote for a Landrieu-never have and never will. And I am not alone, as you will see very soon.

I did the math and I know what happen then. You seem niave about how things actually work in this city. I do agree with your oblique assessment on Vitter. We deserve better from both our US Senators and we will get it.

Is it serendipitious that our city is in the dismal shape we find it. It just wasn't Nagin. Gosh! It was years (50) of incompetitent and corrupt politics and practices which has cast us into the depths of social and political dispair. The Landrieus had/have a generous hand in all of it.

This fall will be sursum corda!!!!

Posted by: campstblue | January 8, 2008 1:11 PM

I do agree with you that this is not just Nagin's fault. He inherited a lot of the problems that we are facing. I wish there was a better way to vet candidates, but I guess the only way is to truly listen what they have to say and take a chance.

As a fellow New Orleanian I understand your reluctance to vote for a Landrieu. Especially, coming from uptown. However, I have great reluctance to vote for John Kennedy and I don't consider him a viable candidate for the office during such critical times. Fortunately, or unfortunately (depends on how you look at it) we need her right now. We are losing all of our seniority in congress, and that is the key in getting the resources that we need to the state. I could wax philosophically on this issue for quite awhile, but my time won't allow this.

Campstblue, it has truly been my pleasure to engage in discourse with you today. I do look forward to the next issue that finds us on the same/opposite side.

Posted by: DSmith | January 8, 2008 4:57 PM

What are you people upset about? As a senator, she constitutionally has the right to involve herself in the District's affairs. Secondly, are you saying that D.C. is doing such a great job with their reading programs that they didn't need the help? In my job, I often speak with D.C. kids. Saying that they don't need further reading assistance is like saying Africa doesn't need mosquito nets.

Posted by: familynet | January 11, 2008 1:18 PM

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