Who Pushed $165 Million CATS Tax

A review of campaign finance records filed with the Louisiana  Board of Ethics, corporate records at the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office, and the Advocate website provide a picture of who supported or opposed the $165 million CATS property tax increase approved last year.
The two main organizations which publicly urged voters to pass the tax increase were:
•    Together Baton Rouge, and
•    BRAC, the Baton Rouge Area Chamber
Behind the scenes, money to support the campaign for the tax was raised by:
•    Citizens Against Traffic Congestion PAC, whose chairman is Robert Miller, CEO of Reliant Transportation, Inc., a major contractor of CATS.  It provides “para-transit services delivering clients to jobs and other destinations” for the “city bus company.”
Funding of Citizens Against Traffic Congestion PAC was provided by:
•    FuturePAC, BRAC’s political action committee, $15,000
•    Veolia Transportation, $5,000
[Note: Veolia Transportation is currently being considered for a major management contract with CATS.]
•    CocaCola Bottling Company United Inc., $5,000
•    General Health Systems, owner of Baton Rouge General, $5,000
According to campaign finance reports, Citizens Against Traffic Congestion PAC paid Reliant Transportation to haul voters to the polls on election day:
•    Campaign finance report filed 4/21/12 shows Citizens paid Reliant $2,350 for “Transportation to Polls; Transportation of Canvassers”.  La. R.S. 18:1531 provides a civil penalty of $2,500 for accepting money to haul a voter to the polls.  However, 18:1531(D)(2) exempts “any bona fide bus, taxi, or transportation service, which holds a license or permit duly issued by the appropriate governmental entity.”  This makes Reliant one of the few entities in East Baton Rouge Parish that can be legally paid to haul voters to the polls on election day.
Who Opposed the $165 Million CATS Tax Increase?
According to published reports and campaign finance reports filed with the Louisiana Board of Ethics, the following opposed the CATS tax increase:
•    Taxbusters.us, a citizens group founded in 1996.  Taxbusters received a contribution of $10,000 from Cajun General Contractors.
•    Republican Party of East Baton Rouge Parish
•    Louisiana Republican Party
•    The Tea Party of Louisiana
•    The Advocate
•    Baton Rouge Business Report
Milton Graugnard, who has sued to block the CATS tax, is an official of Cajun Construction.

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