SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - An appointment to the Red River Waterway Commission is latest bone of contention between Louisiana’s governor and one of the state’s U.S. senators.
And the issue has each side tossing about the word “petty” to describe the other.
But Gov. John Bel Edwards made a commitment last year to return to Rapides a seat long held by someone from that parish, his office said.
That move also would restore balance to the commission and ensure racial and geographical diversity, the administration argues.
Kennedy, a Republican, called on Edwards, a Democrat, on Thursday to “… drop his petty vendetta against Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator and appoint Prator’s wife to the Red River Waterway Commission.”
If anyone is being petty, said a spokesman for the governor, it’s Kennedy.
"Look up the definition of 'petty' in the dictionary, and next to it is a picture of our junior United States senator who is sending out press releases complaining about appointments to local boards and commissions,” said Richard Carbo, deputy chief of staff for communications and special projects.
In a statement released Thursday, Kennedy alleges that a Democratic state senator from Louisiana told media outlets that Edwards blocked Carolyn Prator’s nomination because her husband criticized the governor’s criminal justice reform efforts.
“Criminal justice reform has been a disaster, but the governor shouldn’t take it out on a respected professional who has a wealth of experience in flood control funding decisions. That is simply reprehensible,” the federal lawmaker said.
The governor’s office identified Sen. Greg Tarver, of Shreveport, as the state lawmaker whom Kennedy referenced and described his comments as “outrageous and false.”
The governor’s office also contends that politics never was a factor in his decision on whom to appoint to the commission.
A post on the commission came open Feb. 5 with the passing of Mickey Prestridge. The governor appointed someone from Caddo to his seat.
So when the at-large-seat became available, the governor kept his commitment and appointed someone from Rapides, his office explained.
The statement describes the governor’s appointee as a Rapides Parish veteran who served nearly 30 years in the Louisiana National Guard and who has years of experience as a military engineer and logistics officer working on issues related to waterways, flooding, building levees and hurricane recovery and relief efforts.
The governor’s office also cites state law that says the governor:
- can select anyone to fill at-large seats as long as that person is from one of the seven parishes in the commission’s jurisdiction, and,
- can receive nominations but is not obligated to select from them.
“The bigger question for Sen. Kennedy is, why does he want to kick off a veteran from Rapides Parish when Caddo currently has the same representation they’ve had for more than a decade? The people of Rapides Parish deserve to know,” Carbo said.