Sen. Landrieu Defends Herself
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."
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