Did Kip Holden misappropriate $330,720 in tax dollars?

Those who’ve followed the standoff between Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden and EBR Sheriff Sid Gautreaux might be confused as to why Holden won’t follow GOHSEP rules and allow Gautreaux to sign off on the parish’s Homeland Security grant applications. After all, EBR is the only parish not in compliance, Kip’s behavior has been childish and downright bizarre and his antics have tied up $4 million in funding for the parish in bureaucratic purgatory. According to sources I spoke with on Wednesday, there might be a reason why.

The problem, according to my sources, is that Holden has already spent Homeland Security grants totaling over $1 million. Why is this a problem? Because GOHSEP requires the Sheriff, as chief law enforcement officer of the parish, to sign off on the 25% of the grant earmarked for law enforcement. Kip Holden has already spent the City-Parish’s portion of the grant plus the Sheriff’s — or $330,720 more than he should have.

Now that the State of Louisiana has stepped in to administer the $1.1 million from FY09, Kip is in one hell of a bind. When the Sheriff is allocated his 25% of the grants, according to those with knowledge of the situation, the remaining funds will not be enough to cover what Holden has already spent.

This would explain why Holden is framing his opposition as a legal one, arguing the GOHSEP lacks the authority to require the Sheriff’s signature, and claiming that GOHSEP Director Mark Cooper is “blatantly violating Louisiana law” and “playing politics at its worst.” When the truth finally surfaces, Holden is going to face a lot of flak from the Metro Council and the voters. He’s likely trying to mitigate this by positioning himself as a champion of the law and laying the foundation for a “GOHSEP changed the rules and they’re playing politics with our security” argument.

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