Sterling Colomb, the founder of the local Colomb Foundation and one of three dozen Louisiana non-governmental organizations in the cross hairs of state Treasurer John Kennedy for alleged failures to account for how they spent millions in state grants, is pushing back against the treasurer and suggests Kennedy is engaging in politically motivated grandstanding.
“I made the deadline. He’s running for governor; he’s just trying to put his name out there,” Colomb tells The Ind, insisting that his foundation accounted for how it spent $300,000 in state grant money way back in 2008. The money, Colomb says, was used to purchase land and build the foundation’s office, which doubles as an event center. “That stuff’s been turned in already; this is the second time around,” Colomb says. “We got audited in 2008 and turned all that stuff in. If our audit was good I don’t know why we wouldn’t turn it in. The thing about Kennedy, he moved so much he probably can’t find nothing. He moved his office about three times so it’s probably caught up in them boxes somewhere.”
Kennedy fingered the Colomb Foundation and dozens of other nonprofit organizations, giving the NGOs a Sept. 4 deadline to submit documentation showing how they spent the state grant money. Kennedy’s office confirmed for The Ind’s sister publication, ABiz, that Colomb’s foundation did indeed turn in a box of materials on the day of the deadline. Deputy Treasurer Jason Redmond said last week that the Colomb Foundation has been granted an extension while treasury staff inspects the material. NGOs that didn’t meet the deadline have been turned over to the Office of Debt Recovery.
“Everything we said we were going to do with the grant we did. In that box we have check stubs, receipts and pictures. It’s on the up and up on my end as far as I know,” Colomb says, who disputes Redmond’s claim that the Colomb Foundation never submitted documentation to Treasury.
Colomb also takes exception with claims that his foundation was contacted by Kennedy’s office and asked to submit proof of proper expenditures. “He’s talking about sending out certified letters. He has no proof anybody signed for them. He says he called. He has no log book to say he had called,” Colomb insists. “I received no certified letter. I received no phone call.”
The foundation was created in 2003 in the memory of Colomb’s wife, who died of breast cancer, and his adoptive daughter, who was murdered by the South Louisiana serial killer in November 2002. He is clearly agitated by suggestions that he’s run anything but an above-board foundation that focuses on breast cancer awareness, teen empowerment and women’s safety. And he says the term “witch hunt” falls short, in his view, of what’s going on in Baton Rouge.
“All these nonprofits, all of them were black,” Colomb says. “It’s not a witch hunt. I’d call it something else but I’d rather not say.”
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