St Tammany DA Update – 8/5/14

St. Tammany Parish President and DA Walter Reed ask separately for audit of Reed’s office

Heather Nolan – NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
Lee Zurik – WVUE Fox 8 News

District Attorney Walter Reed on Monday asked the state Legislative Auditor to review his office’s finances following what he called “allegations of improper expenditures” by the news media. Reed sent his letter the same day St. Tammany Parish President Pat Brister wrote Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera, asking him to “assign emergency auditors to conduct a thorough and complete inspection of the finances of Walter Reed’s office.”

In his letter to the auditor’s office dated Aug. 4, Reed said several programs he created have been “scrutinized and criticized along with comments and opinions regarding my relationship with St. Tammany Parish Hospital.”

The request comes as federal investigators are examining Reed’s campaign spending and his relationship with the hospital. Reed has denied wrongdoing.

Purpera said late Monday that he received Brister’s letter first. Reed’s came later in the afternoon.

DA Walter Reed’s ex says he pocketed donations

By SARA PAGONES| and KATIE MOORE

Two years ago, the nostalgia act America was rocking the Castine Center in support of a huge fundraiser for Walter Reed, an event where supporters of the district attorney for St. Tammany and Washington parishes plunked down $150 apiece to help the five-term elected official shore up his war chest.

Campaign finance forms show that Reed, who hadn’t faced an opponent since 1996, reported raising $222,550 at the event, which he described to friends as his most successful ever. His spokesman, Morgan Stewart, says an estimated 2,400 people attended — considerably more than indicated in documents from the Castine Center, which listed an approximate attendance of 1,600 to 1,800.

With a ticket price of $150, even the low end of that estimate would have yielded more money — $240,000 — than Reed reported making. And if Reed’s assertion that 2,400 attended is correct, the event should have raised $360,000.

Stewart says accurate counts at such events are difficult and some people attended without buying tickets because Reed “never knowingly turned away a supporter that wanted to attend his events. Sometimes that means supporters without the income to purchase a ticket were allowed entry anyway,” he said.

The red, white and blue tickets promised food and drinks — provided by Tugendhaft’s, the bar run by Reed’s son, Steven Reed — and asked that checks be made payable to the Walter Reed Campaign Fund.

But apparently not every supporter who walked through the doors followed those simple instructions. Reed’s former girlfriend, Claire Bradley, who was Claire Ursin before her divorce, says some checks were made out to Walter Reed personally or that the payee line was left blank.

Those checks came up when Reed invited her to his house for dinner three days after the fundraiser and asked if she could imitate his signature, she said. “I’m like, ‘No, I can’t. You write left-handed, upside down,’ ” she recalled telling him.

He said he wanted her to try anyway, and he pulled out a stack of about 40 checks and asked her to endorse them with his name, according to Bradley.

When asked what happened to mislabeled checks, Reed’s spokesman said, “We have not seen any mislabeled checks.”

Stewart also denied that Reed coerced Bradley into doing anything untoward, saying she “has no credibility in this matter” and that their relationship ended in a “contentious” breakup.

“Claire Bradley Ursin was convicted of criminal damage to property of Mr. Reed’s ex-wife’s car and put on probation,” he said in an email. “The veracity of this disgruntled ex-girlfriend as a source is extremely questionable. We deny her accusations categorically and are shocked that respected media representatives continue to take her word over a person that has never been charged with an ethics violation or of breaking the law,” he said.

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3 Responses to “St Tammany DA Update – 8/5/14”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Oh no…a mad girl friend is not good to have.

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