Mailer supporting Council on Aging tax may be improper
BATON ROUGE- Tuesday, allegations came to light alleging the EBR Council on Aging is improperly sending out political mailers.
It all boils down to a postage discount non-profit organizations receive. The mailer is being distributed by a political action committee in support of a tax to fund the organization.
The Council on Aging Director distanced herself from the PAC when we started asking questions. The Chairperson of the PAC, Attorney Rick Caballero has agreed to write a check to make up the difference. He called the use of the non-profit stamp an egregious mistake.
"You can't use any public funds to support or oppose a candidate or proposition on the ballot," Legislative Auditor Darryl Purpera said. "By using public funds in anyway to send out mailers to ask for you to vote for a particular proposition, would be improper and against the constitution."
Legislative Auditor Darryl Purpera says those responsible could face fines.
"You can bet the next auditor that goes in to this agency will look between separation from this agency and the political action committee to make sure this doesn't happen in the future," Purpera said.
Council on Aging Director Tasha Amar says she had nothing to do with it, but could not explain how the PAC got her organization's non-profit code.
"The PAC is run by Attorney Rick Caballero, and any questions you have about that you have to see him about that," Amar said.
According to Amar, the tax is critical to fund operations. Currently, the COA is asking for a dedicated property tax. It would double the size of the budget to continue providing things like meals, baths, personal care and homemaker services for the elderly.
"If it doesn't get passed, these people will continue to die on a waiting list," Amar said. "We have over 5,000 people on a waiting list for services that they can't get because someone has to die before they are the next person in line."
According to Amar, many of her employees are on board with the tax. They are participating in employee deductions, donating a portion of their own paychecks to support getting word out about the tax.
PAC Chairman Rick Caballero sent a letter to the Post Master Tuesday saying he'll reimburse the USPS more than $1,400. He apologized for the mistake and added he hopes this doesn't hurt seniors on November 8th.
According to Amar, the PAC paid for the mailer and no taxpayer money was used.