Gubernatorial candidate “Niki Bird” Papazoglakis accused the Jindal administration Monday of retaliating against her nonprofit organization because of her entry into the governor’s race.
Papazoglakis, who works for Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment, said the state abruptly canceled a planned workshop with the sexual violence awareness organization after her director mentioned she was running against Gov. Bobby Jindal.
Papazoglakis said PAVE expected to receive $5,000 from the state Department of Children and Family Services to conduct a continuing education program in January for social workers.
“We’ve been planning it for months. We had the agenda laid out. The date was set,” Papazoglakis said.
She rejected the Jindal administration’s contention that budget cuts are to blame.
“It was canceled because this governor is known for taking punitive actions against other opponents,” Papazoglakis said.
The governor’s spokesman, Kyle Plotkin, said Jindal was not involved in the decision to cancel the program with PAVE.
Plotkin said there were funding concerns as well as questions about whether PAVE has the proper licensing to conduct the continuing education program.
Papazoglakis is running as a Democrat against Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal in the Oct. 22 primary. With more than $7 million to spend on his re-election bid against a field of nine poorly financed candidates, Jindal appears assured to win the primary.
The governor’s race is Papazoglakis’ first bid for public office. She works as policy director for PAVE. She said she disagreed with the governor’s support of legislation that aimed to limit convicted sex offenders’ access to social networking sites.
PAVE conducted a training seminar on sexual violence in June for Louisiana State Police. A workshop for social workers would have been held in January for Department of Children and Family Services.
Papazoglakis said DCFS officials stopped returning her organization’s calls after her director, Angela Rose, made a reference to the governor’s race. She said they learned in an email Friday that the training would not go forward.
Patsy Johnson, an employee of DCFS, blamed budget issues in the email to Rose and Papazoglakis.
“At this time due to budget issues we will not be able to proceed with the training as discussed. We apologize for any inconveniences that this may have caused,” Johnson wrote.
Trey Williams, communications director for DCFS, said there was never a final agreement or contract with PAVE.
“DCFS did not go forward with the seminar because the nonprofit lacks the licensing to meet the professional clinical social work training requirements,” he said.