Let’s chat about the media and Aaron Broussard’s relationship with First Bank and Trust and tie a few things together. Part 1
OK folks it is time to come clean, sort of anyway. Since late July I have been publishing documents courtesy of my fictional “gabby cousin Slabb O’Leak” that really did not come from him. Actually some of y’all may have noticed some redactions that are beyond my control but suffice it to say that I have found a literal pot o’ gold of Aaron Broussard personal information, between 80,000 to 90,000 pages of information in fact, including documents like the ones between Broussard and First Bank and Trust that I posted Friday.
I’ll add indeed verily I promise I have every reasonable expectation that there is lots of Goatherder jackassery contained in Slabbed’s Pot o’ Gold and I expect soon to publish full, unredacted versions of the various ownership agreements in ventures Broussard peddled such as La Ferme D’Acadie, Cerro Coyote and perhaps even Rauda House. Slabbed has learned in the course of its exhaustive and ongoing investigation these documents were previously unknown to the investigative community, a defect I personally cured.
Here at Slabbed the tenets of my investigation follows one rule and one rule only: Follow the money. Following money plays to my strengths and I have 425,000 reasons to follow the trail in its entirety and frankly I’m content to let the aftermath sort itself out. Along those lines on Friday we introduced Joe Canizaro to the Slabbed Nation. Joe is a Biloxi native made good from doing real estate development and is likely a hecto-millionaire somewhere in Tom Benson’s zip code. Both have papal appearances on their resumes though Benson actually got the pope to genuflect and kiss his Saints Superbowl Ring. Lest I digress because unlike Benson, Canizaro had the power to have Aaron Broussard conduct business for First Bank and Trust on Parish Letterhead. At the time Broussard was on the Board of Directors of FBT.
But in the course of my inspection of these documents there is another story line that I began developing last month that has since come into very sharp focus and that would be the story of the media, specifically how they handed the then unfolding scandal in Jefferson Parish, the second most populous parish in Louisiana and the most populous of the 7 parish NOLA Metro area. In particular we examine the TeeVee stations today, which cover events like the Red Dress run in NOLA for charity in-depth, but never have a reporter to spare to cover Parish council meetings.
So folks are there fluffers in the NOLA press corps? Does the local journalism scene have anyone that actually tries to do a good job? The answer to both questions is yes. I’ll let you guys make up your own minds but the contrast in the following documents is stark IMHO:
Eric Paulsen ~ WWL TeeVee
Paul Murphy ~ WWL TeeVee
Drew Broach - The Times Picayune (After Theriot’s luncheon with Ashton Phelps)
Val Bracy – Fox 8
Val Bracy #2 – Fox 8 (March 5, 2010)
It is important we keep an eye on the timeline as here we are to early March 2010 and Val Bracy was still a big girl handling her own job as an investigative reporter for Tom Benson’s Fox 8. I noted later that month Lee Zurik took over handing chores like contacting Jefferson Parish Government signing an email following up on a Val Bracy PRR as Chief Investigative Reporter. I thought that a bit odd considering that he could not go on air and report anything as his no compete with Channel 4 was still in place in mid March, 2010. Let’s circle that for now.
We also need to keep in mind that Theriot sent the Assistant Parish Attorney in charge of public records home by March, 2010 claiming said assistant Parish Attorney, Anne Marie Vandenweghe was blogging on company time on from her Parish issued computer. This is very important since responses to public records requests after Vandenweghe’s suspension and subsequent reassignment to the property division were best described as non responsive, as Jefferson Parish government lost all semblance of transparency in what has turned out to be a futile effort to stop the flow of damning information regarding the systemic corruption in Parish government.
With that set up we must again examine how the Parish computer system viewed using the internet, at least unfiltered as a heavily redacted document indicates that everyone in the Parish was blocked. The email chain regarding the use of the internet by the Parish Attorney’s office indicates this became a job performance issue as well. This discussion began around January 20, 2010 and continued through the day Anne Marie Vandenweghe was sent home. It also makes clear the Parish was monitoring internet use and had the means to block sites like Slabbed and the Times Picayune, effectively blocking anyone from using their Parish computers to comment online to news stories. It also calls into question Steve Theriot’s first public statements on the matter of the suspension of Ms Vandenweghe, which he cited her for playing on the internet as the reason for her suspension. Then again we already knew TheRiot was a lying sack of shit but this brings me to a larger point involving the Parish, the media and public records requests.
You see folks I have lots of examples of what the media were looking at in those early days of what we now know as the Jefferson Parish Political Corruption Scandal besides Val Bracy’s PRR 0200-10. For instance Val was very busy doing what I call gum shoe journalism as this PRR circa 12/31/2009 indicates. By then she had developed some excellent sources in Jefferson Parish, those sources cultivated no doubt by the trust she earned actually reporting the facts, where ever they led.
Sources familiar with the media scene at the Yenni Building around that time described for me a media free for all, one that was not developing original reporting though. Rather everyone in the media was busy trying to figure out and then rip off leads reporters like Val Bracy were following as a copycat mentality evidently ruled the day in media circles. On the finance boards such group circle jerks are described using terms like herd as in “feeding the herd”. My experience is no good due diligence aka original reporting comes from the herd but it is what it is. It is clear from my review of these records Val Bracy was leading the pack which in turn explains why her reporting for Fox 8 on the topic of Jefferson parish corruption was so damn good, too good in fact from a job security standpoint.
And when Bracy was wasn’t following the money she was following the shady businesses owned by the perpetrators like CWC Gaming, for which her PRR to the Parish came up empty. Rich Rainey was also trying prior to TheRiot’s lunch with his publisher, chasing leads related to Aaron Broussard’s son Troy for instance. And then there is Cherreen Gegenheimer from the 10th Floor that traveled the world on the taxpayer’s dime as she was the topic of several PRRs. Her defiant interoffice response and email from Lee Zurik following up on Val’s initial “no response” from Greg Giangrosso, who inherited the job from AMV after her suspension are telling. As I said earlier after AMV was sent home transparency in Parish Government died at the hands of Theriot hacks like Giangrosso.
This brings us to the final PRR we must examine in part 1 in PRR 0200-10 which Val Bracy sent in regards to Aaron Broussard’s relationship with First Bank and Trust. My mind is open to the possibility it was chasing this lead that ultimately led to her termination from Fox 8. To set things up Val was developing leads she generated from her sources in Jefferson Parish but she was not the only Fox 8 employee working PRRs at Yenni as Lee Zurik was also doing investigative work using his own sources.
Slabbed has spoken to former parish employees with knowledge of the media’s interaction at Yenni in early 2010 that indicated there were some member of the media that appeared to be moles for certain of the players to the sprawling investigation, Fred Heebe being the main mole sponsor. This is not a stretch folks since we now know Garland Robinette was a Fred Heebe/River Birch Landfill shill so it is certainly possible there are others. I’ll add at this point that Bracy’s sources which have spoken with Slabbed since her termination indicate to the person they do not trust Lee Zurik. Worth noting is Zurik evidently did not develop any storylines from his early work for Fox 8 and who occasionally, albeit very rarely, visits Jefferson Parish Government with his famous investigations.
So what was Val Bracy’s PRR 0200-10? Simple folks a birdie must have told her to dig into Broussard’s relationship with First Bank and Trust because she did in spades and evidently hit gold. What she may not have known at the time was FBT was wrapping up their long-standing relationship as Official Bank of the New Orleans Saints, a business relation since taken over by Whitney Bank. The first page of the above PDF describes what was found as Cindy Roth sent the following email to Anne Marie Vandenweghe:
I have a personal file on Mr. Broussard re FBT. as he was a Board Member of that Bank. There is lots of very personal info, i.e. (redacted) — do you want that?
So what did you not see on Fox 8 after that PRR was returned? Simple folks, I posted it Friday as Aaron Broussard the Parish prez and Aaron Broussard, Inc. are indeed a “difference without a distinction” as Joe Canizaro rented the Office of the Jefferson Parish Prez for a relative pittance, at least from outward appearances.
But there is more to this story folks because Broussard’s relationship with FBT is far more extensive than Joe Canizaro writing letters to then Governor Blanco for AB and it leads us to some very interesting places. This will be fodder for part 2.
I’d like to close this post by pointing out something the media seems to be taking for granted but it meaningful to me because earlier this summer Slabbed picked up an interesting new reader that initially showed interest in some very specific posts like this one and this one and to roll that part out let’s visit with the FBI and their latest press release on the Broussard superseding indictment:
The case is being investigated by agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation with the assistance of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations and the Metropolitan Crime Commission.
Typically when I see the IRS CID folks pop up in an investigation there is a money laundering component though abusive tax shelters could also attract their attention. I’d like to direct everyone’s attention to the following DoJ document, related to their 2013 budget:
Using John Doe Summonses to Track Down Owners of Unreported Offshore Accounts
The Tax Division is assisting the IRS in attempting to obtain more information about United States persons who maintain undeclared foreign accounts. This assistance primarily takes the form of obtaining court authorization for the IRS to serve John Doe summonses — a summons issued to obtain the identities of unknown taxpayers — and in petitioning for judicial enforcement of the summons.
At the centerpiece of the Division’s current efforts is the John Doe summons served on the Swiss banking giant UBS, which does business in the United States. In United States v. UBS, AG (S.D. Fla.), filed in July, 2008, the Tax Division successfully obtained court approval for the issuance of a John Doe summons to UBS seeking the names of U.S. account holders with undeclared accounts. The approval and issuance of the summons generated worldwide publicity. When UBS failed to comply with the summons in full, the Tax Division in February, 2009, filed a petition to enforce the summons.
The filing of the enforcement action, and the attendant pressure on the Bank and the Government of Switzerland, resulted in an historic settlement, signed on August 19, 2009. This agreement has dealt fabled Swiss bank secrecy a devastating blow. The agreement has put in place a government-to-government process that should yield information on thousands of U.S. offshore account holders who have high-value accounts in UBS. The agreement also provides a method for the United States to obtain similar account information from other Swiss banks. In addition, the agreement should serve as a template for US government actions taken in connection with banks from other countries.
Stay tuned as Slabbed continues following the money in part 2 of this series.