Posted: Sep 26, 2013 10:22 PM by Erin Steuber
Updated: Sep 26, 2013 10:51 PM
State Treasurer John Kennedy is giving final notice to a Lafayette non-profit that could owe hundreds of thousands of dollars to the state. The Colomb Foundation is one of seven non-profits which has yet to comply with the treasurer's demand. The foundation was established in memory of Dene Colomb, who was killed by serial killer Derek Todd Lee, and also in memory of her mother, who died of breast cancer. It's one of 36 non-profits across the state, which came under fire for not reporting how they spent tax dollars. Nine are now in compliance and 19 were reported to the Office of Debt Collection and the Legislative Auditor. The Colomb Foundation was given an extension after submitting some of their paperwork to the state earlier this month, but this time there won't be an extension. The new, and final, deadline is October 15th. In a little less than a month the foundation must either submit all of the required documentation, or pay back $300,000 in taxpayer money.
Driving down Highway 93 in Arnaudville you come across The Colomb Foundation community center with a message on their sign that says, "We are still helping people." But the state treasurer is asking them to prove that with four years of documentation to show how they spent a $300,000 grant.
"If they don't, or they're not compliant, I will send them to the Office of Debt Recovery to be sued, and to the Legislative Auditor to be audited," said Kennedy.
This recent compliance campaign, spear-headed by Kennedy, is sending at least 19 non-profits to the Office of Debt Recovery.
"They didn't respond at all, or responded in a way that was clear they didn't intend to submit the information in good faith," said Kennedy.
Kennedy says by not honoring the contracts, they signed with the state to get the money in the first place, is an abuse of the taxpayer's money. And he has a plan to get it back, whether they have the money or not.
"If they don't have the money, but they have assets we should get a judgement, seize the assets, sell the assets and pay the taxpayers back as best we can and hope that the legislature doesn't do that again."
He hopes bringing these issues to light will mean change.
"I think many of my colleagues were not aware of the extent of the abuse. I think you will see legislation in the next legislative session to try and stop this abuse," said Kennedy. "Some of the NGO's have and they're in compliance, but many of them haven't. Under the contract they signed they have to give the money back to the people of Louisiana and I'm going to pursue that."
Sterling Colomb, the founder of the The Colomb Foundation, declined to comment. But, in the past he has been adamant that his foundation does not belong on the treasurer's list in the first place.