Nov 26, 2013 11:14 PM by Alex Labat
Football tickets. Tailgating season tickets. The right to reserve season football tickets.
These are just some of the things politicians have listed in their campaign finance reports.
"Candidates buy football tickets for supporters, they buy memberships. They join organizations paid for with campaign contributions", says Dr. Pearson Cross, UL Political Science professor and KATC Political Analyst. A KATC investigation into campaign finance looked at how much politicians spent on college sports.
We analyzed electronic records dating back to 1998 detailing campaign expenditures to the three biggest athletic programs in the state: UL, Tulane, and LSU. Politicians spent over $10,000 for UL tickets, $30,000 for Tulane tickets, and for LSU tickets? Over $1 million.
"There's not a concrete, 'This is going to be personal, this is not personal' in the statute", explains Louisiana Board of Ethics administrator Kathleen Allen.
The top spender on LSU athletics is former Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry Bob Odom at $58,000.
The top spenders in Acadiana were: Senator Jonathan Perry at $24,700, Representative Joel Robideaux at $20,000, and former Senator Mike Michot $19,400.
Expenditures at UL are much lower with Kathleen Blanco topping the list at $5,700, and Sheriff Mike Neustrom second at $2,200.
We asked UL to explain how politicians could purchase tickets with their campaign funds, but officials refused to be interviewed on camera. They did say, however, that they only sell the tickets, and don't know the source of the funds.
A university spokesperson also said that the Ragin' Cajun Athletic Fund allows people to donate and receive the right to priority seating for a home game, but when they actually purchase the tickets, that it's not considered a donation.
LSU has a similar program, the Tiger Athletic Foundation, which allows sports fans to donate to reserve the right to buy season tickets.
"You give to a candidate, it's buyer beware frankly. It's buyer beware. The person who gives the money gives it to a particular purpose. But it may no go towards that purpose", says Cross.
For a complete breakdown of the which candidates spent money on football tickets, click here.