At $184,000 a year, District Attorney Walter Reed is now the highest-paid elected official in St. Tammany Parish. But it's his work on the side that raises serious questions.More >>
At $184,000 a year, District Attorney Walter Reed is now the highest-paid elected official in St. Tammany Parish. But it's his work on the side that raises questions in our latest "Louisiana Purchased" report - especially the work he does for a public hospital, and the potential mix of public and private resources.More >>
A commenter on FOX8Live.com pointed out the findings in our latest "Louisiana Purchased" update.More >>
A commenter on FOX8Live.com pointed out the findings in our latest "Louisiana Purchased" update. It involves a video for St. Tammany Parish District Attorney Walter Reed, and the website it promotes.More >>
The St. Tammany district attorney paid his son's company a huge amount for bar services at a Sept. 2012 campaign fundraiser. But what did Steven Reed actually do for the money?More >>
The St. Tammany district attorney paid his son's company a huge amount for bar services at a Sept. 2012 campaign fundraiser. But what did Steven Reed actually do for the money? We comb through records of the event in this latest edition of the "Louisiana Purchased" joint investigation by FOX 8 News and NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune.More >>
How would you like to be paid $12 to serve someone two drinks, another 12 dollars to serve someone else a couple of drinks, and get that money again and again, for each person you serve?More >>
How would you like to be paid $12 to serve someone two drinks, another 12 dollars to serve someone else a couple of drinks, and get that money again and again, for each person you serve? That's the apparent purpose of payments from a long-time elected official to his son.More >>
Bess Carrick has been around politics for decades. You'd think she'd seen it all.
"Yes, that's surprising to me," Carrick tells us, surprised after watching a 60-second video clip.
This is a public service announcement, or PSA, put together for Walter Reed, district attorney in St. Tammany Parish. According to his office, they aired it on a public access channel in Washington Parish.
The PSA features Reed on camera, reading for about 35 seconds, followed by an announcer reading for another 20 seconds.
When we ask Carrick if such a video were simple to make, she tells us, "Yes. You get a camera, you put it on a tripod... they looked like they had a little bit of light on the guy. I certainly think he should have known his own script. Looks like someone might have been holding up cards."
Carrick owns Blackbird Media. She's won awards for her documentary on Lindy Boggs.
"We've been doing political media for over 20 years," she tells us. "And I've been doing independent films for probably 30."
We had her critique the video.
"I would say it was shot with a medium-professional camera," she says, "or you could have shot that with an iPhone if you, you know, held it tight, steady."
When we ask Carrick how much she would charge to produce such a video, with her production values and level of quality, she says, "It would have been between $2,500 and $3,000, because we would have put some sort of very interesting animation in the back, we would have shot him on a green screen, we would have professionally lit him. We would have used a TelePrompTer and we would have edited and done a professional voiceover, probably with a little music under it."
Based on the production values of the clip she watched, Carrick estimates a much lower price. "I would guess between $500 and $750," she tells us. "And the reason I say it's that high, is because I think that might have been a professional voice at the end. And if so, those run at about $275 a pop."
According to campaign records, Walter Reed had his son's production company, Globop, produce the video. We put in a public records request last week to get a copy of it. Reed's office sent the video to us Thursday afternoon.
The payments from the DA's campaign to his son have raised questions as we probe campaign finance across the state of Louisiana.
Since 2006, Reed's campaign has paid his son Steven's companies almost $95,000 – including $14,300 for this 60-second video.
"What? Really... that's amazing," says Carrick when we reveal the price tag. "That's very interesting."
It's surprising because she says she has never come close to charging that much money for a 60-second video. "We should charge someone to, you know, come to the studio, we'd book the crew to be there," she tells us, "we'd do a lot of animation in the background, on the green screen, so it's reinforced. And that could add up, if you just went insane, to maybe $7,000."
State law says a politician can pay immediate family members out of campaign funds for services as long as the "services are related to the payment" and the "value of the services must be commensurate with the consideration provided."
Carrick doesn't think the DA got close to equal value in return for what he paid.
"I've never seen a 500 dollar video charged for 14k," she says. "Have to be drunk out of your mind to pay that much."