Sen. Kennedy asks BR mayor for explanation on BRAVE funds following 9NEWS Investigative reports

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - US Sen. John Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican, sent a letter to Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston-Broome Thursday saying he has "deep concerns about recent media reports detailing alleged misuse of Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination (BRAVE) contracts."

The WAFB Investigative Team first reported on possible misuse of the federally-funding BRAVE dollars by the Broome administration, leading the mayor to suspend all related contracts until her office could further review them.

"The original intent for the BRAVE program was to pursue strategies that reduce violent crime in Baton Rouge," Kennedy said in the letter. "However, the reports indicate that some contract recipients appear to have had political influence or provided questionable services unrelated to crime prevention, such as poetry workshops. I share the concerns of the community over the seemingly blatant waste of our federal tax dollars, but I am especially disturbed by two of the reported actions."

Kennedy then cites a BRAVE contract issued to Arthur Reed, aka Silky Slim, as well as the fact that the mayor's office has not paid LSU $125,000 for their statistical data gathering related to BRAVE.

The 9NEWS Investigative team submitted a public records last week requesting a copy of the Reed contract. Upon receiving that request, the mayor's office swiftly canceled Reed's contract before any money was paid to him. Reed would have been paid $9,800 to teach teens to respect law enforcement.

Reed, a former gang member, who is now an advocate for nonviolence, recently said he believes the man who ambushed Baton Rouge law enforcement last year had served "justice."

"These actions call into question the tactics of your administration is using to fight the ever-increasing violent crime rate in Baton Rouge," Kennedy said in the letter.  "I ask that you take immediate action to ensure that any remaining BRAVE funds are not misused."

"Crime continues to plague our communities, and with Baton Rouge experiencing a surge in violence, I sincerely hope that taxpayer dollars meant for making dangerous areas safer are actually used for improving public safety," Kennedy said.

Kennedy ended his letter by asking Weston-Broome to provide taxpayers and him with a list of BRAVE-related contracts and transactions funded with federal tax dollars.

A spokeswoman for Mayor Weston-Broome said the mayor received the letter and added the mayor "will be in communication with the senator."

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