Around Washington for Monday, Sept. 16, 2013

Vitter alleges lack of transparency

by jordan blum

jblum@theadvocate.com

Washington Bureau writer Jordan Blum
Washington Bureau writer Jordan Blum

U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., targeted the Environmental Protection Agency relentlessly for an alleged lack of transparency, and now he’s honing in more on the federal Treasury Department.

Vitter sent a letter Friday to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew asking him to better comply with requests for documents on discussions about charging fees, or a carbon tax, on industry for carbon dioxide emissions over certain levels.

While the White House has repeatedly stated that President Barack Obama is not proposing any such carbon tax, the president is seeking new energy regulations to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions.

Vitter contended Treasury is guilty of a “blatant rejection of transparency” for only turning over 329 documents that included the word “carbon” that were requested out of about 7,300 total such documents.

Vitter said the department is claiming the other documents are not relevant to the requests.

“As Secretary of the Treasury, it is your responsibility to inform and advise the president on matters of economic significance to our nation,” Vitter wrote to Lew. “In light of the President’s war on carbon and the active debate surrounding it, I find it inconceivable that you and others in your Department have had minimal discussions on the highly controversial topic of a carbon tax and the impact it would have on the American economy.”

Vitter asked Lew to release all the other relevant documents, including any such documents generated since the original requests last year.

Landrieu announces loans

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., announced last week that $7.2 million in federal Community Disaster Loans for the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office were canceled that dated back to Hurricane Katrina.

Last year, Landrieu included in the Homeland Security funding legislation a provision that corrected a flawed formula that prevented the cancellation of $286.7 million in disaster loans in many southern Louisiana communities.

“This loan cancellation is a huge weight off our shoulders and will ensure that this $7.2 million stays right where it belongs – here in Jefferson Parish, where it can be used to better protect the citizens of the Parish,” said Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand in a prepared statement.

Last month, about $35 million in similar disaster loan repayments were canceled for other political entities in Washington Parish, Slidell, Jean Lafitte, Grand Isle, Folsom and several New Orleans organizations: the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans, the Orleans Levee District, the Regional Transit Authority and the Orleans Parish Communication District.

Maness Senate fundraiser

Louisiana’s 2014 Senate election thus far is primarily between incumbent Sen. Landrieu and U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge.

But retired U.S. Air Force Col. Rob Maness, of Madisonville, is fighting to increase his competitiveness in the race, as well as his fundraising prowess.

Maness is attempting to run to the political right of Cassidy as the more staunchly conservative, tea party-aligned option.

Maness is hosting a new fundraiser at 5 p.m. Sept. 30 at Rock ’n’ Bowl in New Orleans.

While describing Maness as someone who will “support and defend the Constitution,” the event is meant to raise both dollars and Maness’ profile.

The fundraiser will feature jambalaya and drinks for $50 per person or $75 per couple.

Those wishing to attend are asked to RSVP at (225) 247-9974 or by email at redrightblue@outlook.com.

Democrats launch effort

In preparation for the 2014 Senate and congressional elections, the Louisiana Democratic Party launched “Campaign for Louisiana” project this past week.

The initial launch accused Republicans of “siding against the middle class” and embracing policies that allegedly hurt Louisiana families.

Andrew Zucker is the campaign’s new communications director.

Zucker previously worked for President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign and, more recently, for the AFL-CIO in Ohio and the Ohio Democratic Party as Press Secretary. He also worked on the successful recent campaign for Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass.

Compiled by Jordan Blum, chief of The Advocate’s Washington bureau. His email address is jblum@theadvocate.com.