Q: I saw in the weekend paper where Parish President Rick Nowlin went to Washington, D.C. How much did this trip cost the taxpayers?
A: “Mary Ann traveled to Washington, D.C., the last week of February in connection with her employment. She is the Regional Vice President of LaCapitol Federal Credit Union and is responsible for all branches north of Baton Rouge. The Credit Union National Association was holding its national Government Affairs Conference that week and she was there to represent LaCap. I accompanied Mary Ann on the trip because it afforded me the opportunity to meet with our Senators and Representatives and request their assistance in addressing local issues, primarily funding for our roads.
We met privately with Senators Kennedy and Cassidy, and Representatives Graves and Abraham. We also met privately with Representative Johnson’s staff as he was in a committee meeting and unavailable. In each meeting, Mary Ann stressed the importance of amendments to Dodd-Frank and the CFPB that harm local credit unions and banks.
I made the case for federal funding of local road improvements that would go directly to the local government entities, by-passing the state departments of transportation. All of the Louisiana officials with whom we met were receptive and offered their support. The catch is that we would have to contribute the same local matching funds as the state and we do not have the funds at this time to do that. With regard to the cost of the trip to D.C., NO Parish funds were expended.
All expenses were either paid by Mary Ann’s employer or by us personally. Inasmuch as I was there on there on behalf of the Parish, I think it would have been a legitimate expense, but I chose not to use Parish funds.
By the way, the people do not know that I voluntarily opted out of the Parish retirement program to which I am entitled, paid for my own health insurance for the first four years as President, and provide my own vehicle for Parish business. According to the Parish Treasurer, this amounted to a donation to the Parish of over $30,000 per year, or $120,000 over the first four years.
Last year, I started to take Parish Insurance, but am still not in the retirement program and still provide my own vehicle for Parish business. The savings to the Parish is still well over $20,000 per year. I have done this to assist the Parish which has very limited resources with which to work.“