Swearing040

Kenner Mayor E. 'Ben' Zahn III, second right, sings the national anthem next to his wife, Dawn Zahn, second left, and Kenner councilman district 1 Gregory W. Carroll, right, during an inaugural ceremony at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner, La. Friday, June 29, 2018.

Kenner Mayor Ben Zahn issued the following statement, his first since the memo forbidding booster clubs at the city's parks from purchasing Nike gear surfaced, just before 2 p.m. Monday. Here is the complete statement:

"Private, for-profit companies have every right to advertise how they wish, even if it means using advertising to promote corporate political beliefs. Individuals also have every right to support or oppose any company or brand for any reason. Those freedoms should never be lost.

I applaud Nike’s message of inclusion and encouragement for everyone to be their best and dream big. But I also recognize that Nike, in its zeal to sell shoes, chose to promote and sell a political message.

In Kenner, like every city, our citizens and our taxpayers cover a wide spectrum of political philosophies and agendas. We must respect all of those agendas and philosophies. So, when a company uses its advertising as its own political megaphone, government should be fair to all of its people and not allow taxpayer dollars to be used to help that company push its own political agenda.

My decision is only to protect taxpayer dollars from being used in a political campaign. Some have asked if people will be allowed to wear Nike apparel on city playgrounds. The answer to that is … of course.

My internal memo draws the line on letting companies profit from taxpayers by espousing political beliefs. My decision disallowing Nike from profiting from our taxpayers while they are using their powerful voice as a political tool is my message. This government will not let taxpayer dollars be used to promote a company’s or individual’s political position, platform or principle. That’s my position as a matter of fairness to all."