Sen. Landrieu's Ethics Questioned

Reported by: Associated Press

Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu is facing questions over a $2 million education earmark that benefited a Texas company.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington is asking the Department of Justice to investigate the relationship between Landrieu and Voyager Expanded Learning. The company was founded by Randy Best, a Dallas merchant banker and prodigious Republican donor.

On October 19th, 2001, Best held a fundraiser for Landrieu. On or about November 2nd, Landrieu received $30,000 from Best, company employees and their relatives. That's according to Federal Election Commission records.

By October 15th, Landrieu had included the $2 million earmark in a spending bill for the District of Columbia. And, her interest in seeing the Voyager program funded for D.C. schools dated to at least May of 2001.

On May 15th, she wrote a letter to the D.C. appropriations subcommittee chairman asking him to provide the district with $3.5 million for the program. Landrieu's office released that letter today.

The reading program was for use in kindergarten and first-grade classes in the D.C. school district.

The earmark attracted attention after the Washington Post highlighted it in a December 20th article on Congress' role in the affairs of the troubled D.C. school district.

In a recent interview with WWL-TV in New Orleans, Landrieu denied wrongdoing and said the company did not influence her. She added that she had "absolutely nothing to hide about" her relationship with Best.