To overcome the perception of Louisiana being a corrupt state, government officials are preparing to spend a large amount of money hiring a major accounting firm to track the spending of federal storm relief funds.This Blageur hopes that Louisianans will remember that we have had about ten years of virtually scandal-free government, and that the jocular attitude that revels in telling tall tales of corruption in the state is costing us money in Congress.
State Commissioner of Administration Jerry Luke LeBlanc said that development, brought up during the U.S. House of Representatives debate on an aid package, is one of a series of frustrating factors in trying to recover from damages inflicted by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
"We have a certain history that we have to deal with," LeBlanc said. "We keep having people making speeches up in Washington about trust and so forth. What we did early on - in the first 24 to 48 hours - was put strong accountability in place" to keep track of all expenditures and money flowing into the state.
"Because of the perception, whether we like it or not, we have something to prove," he said. "I disagree with it, but we've got the perception and we have to deal with the perception."
U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-Metairie, said the state's image was "absolutely a factor" in Congress demanding that the assistance be given as a loan, not a grant as it has been done in other disasters.
The state's image in Washington "is horrible," Vitter said. "It's a real issue."
Hiring one of the top accounting firms in the country could show the doubters that Louisiana is serious about proper handling of the money, LeBlanc said.