Ahead of Lafayette Mayor-President Joel Robideaux’s annual address on Thursday, we’re getting answers about the private fund that benefits from the event.
It’s called the Lafayette Parish Strategic Initiatives Fund. It’s a private account at the Community Foundation of Acadiana, and it pays for the mayor’s annual year-in-review event, the Robideaux Report.
But where does that money come from, and where will it go?
Robideaux says he created the fund to hold any excess money earned from the Robideaux Report’s sponsors, and he envisions the money building up over time to help fund beneficial projects for Lafayette. He says the possibilities are "pretty wide open."
"It could be anything from trying to revitalize certain urban areas that may need revitalization. It could be partnering with the universities or the school system," Robideaux says.
Anyone can give to the fund, and Robideaux says anyone can propose a good use for its money. CFA will make the decisions on which projects will receive funds.
CFA is a nonprofit public charity based in Lafayette. It administers private foundations, such as those started by families or organizations.
Although the mayor created the fund at CFA, solicits private donations to benefit it and appointed the advisory board that oversees it, Lafayette Consolidated Government maintains the fund does not belong to the government. So records of who’s donated to the fund are not public.
"If they don’t want anyone to know that they gave to the fund, I don’t think that we can be required to force them to disclose that," Robideaux says.
The Robideaux Report’s sponsors are disclosed on the event’s website, with LUS Fiber, IberiaBank and Southern Lifestyle Development listed as the top donors.
Through a public records request for emails related to the Robideaux Report, KATC obtained an accounting sheet that listed the donations.
Fifteen donors contributed $71,500 to the event:
- LUS Fiber $25,000
- IBERIABANK $10,000
- Southern Lifestyle Development Co. $10,000
- D.W. Elmore Family $5,000
- Oats and Marino $5,000
- Campaign to Elect Joel Robideaux $5,000
- Mahtook and LeFleur $2,500
- Becker and Hebert $2,500
- Stephen E. Searcy D.D.S. $1,000
- Architects Southwest $1,000
- Technical Inspectors Inc. $1,000
- Jones Walker $1,000
- The Southwest Group $1,000
- Venus Construction $1,000
- Briney Foret Corry $500
Others made in-kind contributions for products and services to help put on the event: Schilling, Acadiana Center for the Arts, the Daily Advertiser, Vidox, Deep South, Pixus and Lowry’s.
The event net about $25,000 after expenses. Philanthropist James Moncus then matched the proceeds with a $25,000 donation.