The Louisiana Legislative Auditor's office will investigate the contracts issued under the Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination program after the city-parish's handling of the anti-gang initiative has repeatedly been criticized over the past week.
Louisiana Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera confirmed Friday that his office will examine the federal BRAVE grant program and how it was administered by the East Baton Rouge Parish government. He has been on the receiving end of numerous calls for an investigation into BRAVE over the past week.
"We want to look at the contracts and make sure they were issued properly," Purpera said, noting that his investigators should start working on the investigation next week.
Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome's office confirmed Tuesday she is suspending all contra…
BRAVE has drawn increased scrutiny after two events in July. The U.S. Department of Justice announced last month that it would not allow the city-parish to carry forward hundreds of thousands of unused dollars in the program that began in 2012, citing concerns about whether the grant was being managed properly.
Then on July 27, Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome announced she was rescinding a recent $9,800 BRAVE contract for activist Arthur "Silky Slim" Reed to teach at-risk youth communication skills and respect for the police. A day earlier, Reed said at a Metro Council meeting that "justice came when Gavin Long came," referencing the gunman who ambushed and killed three Baton Rouge law enforcement officers in July 2016.
Reed's comment along with the federal government's refusal to extend the grant program set off a frenzy of concern over other recent BRAVE contracts awards. Metro Councilman Buddy Amoroso asked Purpera to investigate whether the contracts went to "political friends" of Broome, while the Louisiana Law Enforcement political action committee asked for a review of why the money was going to arts camps, sports games and more.
On Thursday, U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., joined the fray, complaining that the recent BRAVE contracts seemed like a waste of federal taxpayer dollars.
U.S. Sen. John Kennedy has joined the chorus of people calling for investigations into City …
Broome's administration had issued contracts for workshops on art, poetry, intramural sports and more.
The original BRAVE grant from 2012, though, includes community activities like arts, basketball and community gardens as approved uses of the money for the at-risk youth.
Another question that arose was the $125,000 contract that was originally proposed to pay for LSU's research for the BRAVE program.
After bringing the $125,000 proposal to the Metro Council in February for approval, Broome's staff announced they were going to review it and bring it back to the council after they better understood it.
Broome's Assistant Chief Administrative Officer James Gilmore said this week that LSU was only to receive the $125,000 if the U.S. Department of Justice agreed to extend the grant, which it declined to do. LSU officials have not answered repeated requests over the course of the week to explain how their funding for BRAVE worked.
The $125,000 originally intended for LSU's work on the Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination…
Broome announced Tuesday that she was suspending all contracts issued between mid-June and mid-July pending a review from her office.
Her staff said they expect to give an update on their review of BRAVE by Aug. 7.
"If there's a reason for us to issue a report, we will," Purpera said about his office's review of BRAVE.
Additionally, Purpera said his office is reviewing how City Hall sells land after the Baton Rouge Business Report this week ran a series of articles showing how the city sold a piece of desirable land for just $10,000.