Kennedy seeks ban on officials getting flood recovery work

U.S. Sen. John Kennedy called on Gov. John Bel Edwards today to ban public officials and their family members from receiving flood recovery rebuilding contracts financed with federal disaster aid.

As The Associated Press reports, Kennedy, a Republican who took office this month, sent a letter to the Democratic governor urging Edwards to issue an executive order with the ban.

Edwards is proposing that $1.3 billion of the $1.6 billion in disaster recovery block grant aid allocated to Louisiana by Congress for the March and August floods be spent on homeowner rehabilitation and rebuilding, and other dollars on business, agriculture and rental assistance.

The state’s newest U.S. senator says politicians and their families shouldn’t “profit from Louisianians’ tragedy.”

“We owe it to the American people, Congress and ourselves to be good stewards of the taxpayer money received for rebuilding, particularly in light of our request for more funding,” Kennedy wrote to Edwards.

Louisiana already has a prohibition on the books keeping statewide elected officials, lawmakers, the governor’s top appointed officials, their spouses and companies in which they have an interest of more than 5% from getting most disaster recovery contracts. The law requires disclosure for many other public officials and family members who have such contracts.

But that doesn’t go as far as Kennedy wants.

It’s unclear, however, how much Edwards might be able to do by executive order, without action from state lawmakers. Edwards’ office didn’t immediately respond today to the letter.

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