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Legislative Auditor Asks Kenner to Select Another CPA Firm

In an Aug. 28, 2002, letter to Kenner City Council President Terry McCarthy, Louisiana Legislative Auditor Dan Kyle disapproves the selection of auditing firm Pailet, Meunier and LeBlanc for the city's 2001-2002 audit.

Councilmember-at-large Dominic Weilbaecher and others had raised questions about the independence of the auditing firm, citing donations from Rodney LeBlanc to McCarthy in the past few years. Kyle states that he received numerous inquiries, complaints and newspaper articles that questioned the independence of the firm with respect to an audit of the City of Kenner. He plainly asks McCarthy to move in another direction: "Therefore, I hereby request that you engage another firm of certified public accountants, which is independent in fact and which is perceived by the public to be independent, to perform the statutorily required audit."

Schwegmann Hopes for Different Result in Rematch

Former Public Service Commissioner John Schwegmann is seeking his old office this fall in a rematch with incumbent Jay Blossman. Blossman represents the 1st PSC district, which covers East Jefferson, parts of Orleans, three Northshore parishes, and St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes.

Blossman rocked the political world in 1996 when he defeated Schwegmann. This time, Blossman is the strong favorite because of a large war chest and his high name recognition, boosted by his brief run for the U.S. Senate earlier in the year.

Schwegmann served as public service commissioner from 1981 until 1997 and as chairman of the PSC for four terms. He has refused to accept contributions from utilities or their executives. "My opponent has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars from utilities," he says. "I refuse to do that."

Schwegmann doesn't have a large campaign team, relying mostly on the advice of his wife, State Rep. Melinda Schwegmann, and a few friends. He doesn't anticipate raising much money from outside donors and will probably fund most of the campaign himself. "I'm not sure how much I'll spend," he says. "He'll spend multiples of what I'll spend. Last time, he spent 10 times what I spent."

The election will be held Oct. 5.

Surprise in 1st Congressional District

Incumbent Bill Jefferson already had major opposition when Public Service Commissioner Irma Muse Dixon qualified against him; few, however, expected him to receive opposition from another major candidate. Surprise.

Former New Orleans City Councilman Troy Carter was a late qualifier on the last day of qualifying. Carter recently ran fifth in the race for mayor of New Orleans and was not considered a potential candidate in this race. "I decided to point my car in the direction of Baton Rouge and see what happened," he says.

What happened was that Jefferson now faces the prospect of the first competitive race since his 1990 defeat of then-State Sen. Marc Morial. With three major candidates in the Nov. 5 race, there is also the chance that a December run-off will be forced.

Most observers still consider Jefferson to be the strong favorite because of his political war chest and his ability to use his extensive contacts to raise money. If Dixon and Carter are able to put serious dollars into the race, it could become quite competitive and interesting to watch. The key question to consider in these next few weeks is what New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin will do. Nagin defeated Richard Pennington in a mayoral run-off earlier this year; Jefferson served as campaign chairman of the Pennington campaign. Without doubt, a Nagin endorsement will be a major coup for Jefferson, Dixon or Carter.
Jefferson Republicans Endorse Cooksey

With three Republican candidates in the race for the U.S. Senate, the Louisiana Republican Party, the Republican National Committee and the Bush White House have remained neutral. However, that has not stopped other organizations from getting involved.

One of the largest Republican organizations in Louisiana, the Jefferson Parish Republican Party, officially endorsed U. S. Congressman John Cooksey last week. This follows the endorsement of Cooksey by Gov. Mike Foster -- who considered running himself -- and will surely give Cooksey a boost in the heated race to make the run-off.

In contrast, fellow Republican candidate, Elections Commissioner Suzanne Haik Terrell, won the key endorsement of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) and will receive a major financial influx of about $460,000 in coordinated campaign expenditures on her behalf.

Also last week, the other Republican candidate, State Rep. Tony Perkins, picked up the endorsement of St. Tammany Parish legislators Pete Schneider and A.G. Crowe.

With the Republican Party split, incumbent Mary Landrieu has been able to unify the Democratic Party behind her candidacy. With her strongest potential opponent out of the race (Foster), some analysts believe that Landrieu has a chance to win the race outright in November, eliminating any December run-off.

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