Treasurer Kennedy Commends Rep. Simone Champagne for Taking First Step to End NGO Abuse

BATON ROUGE – A bill that would require additional financial accountability and oversight of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) requesting state funds sailed through the House Appropriations Committee yesterday, according to State Treasurer John Kennedy. The bill passed out of committee with a vote of 17 to 0 and next moves to the House floor for discussion.

I commend Rep. Simone Champagne for her efforts to bring the NGO process into the sunlight and put an end to abuse,” said Treasurer Kennedy. “But this bill is just the first step. If we are serious about reforming the NGO process we need to do more. No more burying NGO funding in the bowels of a 1,000 page budget; no more paying NGOs through intermediaries; and no more backdoor funding through hidden consulting contracts.”

HB 225 by Rep. Champagne would require NGOs that are seeking line item appropriations to conduct public meetings, make their spending and financial records public, and agree to the auditing of expenditures. The current law requires non-profit groups receiving state funds to submit financial records to the state, but they are not required to hold public meetings or make financial records available to the public.

Over the years, the state has provided at least $500 million in funding to NGOs such as the Just Willing Foundation, the Purple Circle Social Club, Serenity 67, the Smiles and Happiness Foundation, the Hop-2-It Music Company, and many others. Some of the money is distributed to NGOs directly through line item appropriations in the state’s operating and building budgets. Some of the money is given to other governmental entities, which then distribute the funds to NGOs or through consulting contracts with state agencies.

“The real issue with NGOs is not whether they are worthy – some are, some aren’t – but whether they are as or more worthy than the state’s other competing needs, such as colleges, schools, roads, ports, health care, wetlands and small business,” said Treasurer Kennedy. “If a public official decides to fund the Purple Circle Social Club before funding LSU, people deserve to know why. HB 225 will open the NGO process up to the public so taxpayers will know firsthand where their dollars are being spent and for what purpose.”

Contact:
Sarah Mulhearn
(225) 342-0012
smulhearn@treasury.state.la.us