John Neely Kennedy

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John Neely Kennedy
Louisiana State Treasurer
Incumbent
Assumed office
2000
Preceded by Kenneth Duncan
Personal details
Born (1951-11-21) November 21, 1951 (age 62)
Centreville, Mississippi, USA
Nationality American
Political party Democratic (until 2007)
Republican (2007-present)
Spouse(s) Rebecca Stulb Kennedy
Children Preston Kennedy
Residence Madisonville
St. Tammany Parish
Louisiana
Alma mater Vanderbilt University

University of Virginia School of Law
University of Oxford

Religion United Methodist

John Neely Kennedy (born November 21, 1951) is the Republican state treasurer of Louisiana. He was re-elected without opposition to his fourth term as State Treasurer on September 8, 2011.

Early life and career[edit]

Kennedy was born in Centreville near McComb in southwestern Mississippi. He was reared in Zachary in East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana. In the summer of 1969, Kennedy represented Louisiana at Boys Nation in Washington, D.C.

He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1973, a Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia School of Law at Charlottesville, Virginia in 1977, and an advanced law degree (B.C.L.) in 1979 from the University of Oxford in England. While a student at Vanderbilt, he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and senior class president. Prior to entering state politics, he was a partner in the law firm of Chaffe, McCall, Phillips, Toler, and Sarpy, working in the Baton Rouge and New Orleans offices of the firm.

Political career[edit]

In 1988, Kennedy became special counsel to Governor Buddy Roemer.[1] In 1991, he was appointed cabinet secretary and served in that post until 1992. In 1991, he was an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for state attorney general to succeed the retiring William J. Guste. Democrat Richard Ieyoub of Lake Charles won the position. Following his first stint in state government, Kennedy returned to the private practice of law until 1996. That same year, he was appointed Secretary of the state Department of Revenue in the cabinet of Republican Governor Mike Foster.[2]

Kennedy left the Foster administration when he was elected State Treasurer in 1999, having unseated the incumbent Democrat Kenneth "Ken" Duncan, 621,796 (55.6 percent) to 497,319 (44.4 percent).[3] Kennedy was reelected as treasurer without opposition in 2003.

In 2004 he was an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for the United States Senate. He ran a distant third in Louisiana's unique nonpartisan blanket primary, losing to the outright winner, Republican U.S. Representative David Vitter who polled more votes than Kennedy (15 percent), State Senator Arthur Morrell (3 percent), and Democratic U.S. Representative Christopher John (29 percent) combined to win in the primary for the seat without a formal general election, popularly called the runoff in Louisiana.

After being courted by the Republican party for months, Kennedy announced in a letter to his constituents that he was leaving the Democratic Party and joining the Republicans, effective August 27, 2007. In his letter, he announced that he would run again for state treasurer.[4]

In 2008 Kennedy ran again for the United States Senate, this time as a Republican, against incumbent Senator Mary Landrieu. He lost 52.1 to 45.7 percent.[5]

During the term to which he was elected in 2007, Kennedy devised twenty-four points by which the State of Louisiana could save money.[6]

Kennedy was elected as a Republican to the state treasurer's office at the same time that Bobby Jindal won the governor's race against two Democrats, Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell and then State Senator Walter Boasso. In the following years, Kennedy spoke out against Jindal's practice of using one-time funds as part of the annual operating budget. In June 2012, Jindal used the line item veto to reduce the state treasurer's office budget by $511,279. Jindal said that Kennedy can "streamline" his own department. Many ideas that Kennedy had suggested were originally proposals that came from the Louisiana Commission for Streamlining Government, on which the treasurer was a member.[7]

State police retirement controversy[edit]

In July 2014, Kennedy and government watchdog C. B. Forgotston of Hammond questioned an amendment approved on July 2, the last day of the state legislative session, by State Senator Neil Riser of Columbia in Caldwell Parish. Riser pushed to passage a bill which could increase by $55,000 annually the retirement pay of Colonel Michael David "Mike" Edmonson (born September 1958),[8] the superintendent of the Louisiana State Police and a Republican appointee of Governor Jindal, and at least one other unnamed state trooper. Legislative rules prohibit a conference committee report from being considered on the last day of a session. However, both chambers voted by the two-thirds majority to suspend the rules and pass Riser's amendment. Treasurer Kennedy has urged the state police retirement board, of which he is an ex officio member, to litigate the constitutionality of Senate Bill 294, which Jindal promptly signed into law.[9]

Though he had first denied authorship of the amendment, Riser said that he was asked to submit the measure to the full legislature by Charlie Dupuy, the deputy police superintendent. Riser said it was his understanding that the bill in question addresses the rights of law enforcement officers and "broad retirement issues", not specific individuals who could benefit from its provisions.[9]

Meanwhile, Forgotston, who has taken a particular interest in the retirement controversy, claims that Riser's amendment will apply to "hundreds of thousands" of current and future retirees in all departments of state government and could increase taxpayer liability by "millions of dollars" in accrued expenses. Forgotston said that Riser flatly lied to him in first denying the authorship of the amendment: "Riser has now said, ‘Yeah, it was me ...' He should have apologized to the public. He should have apologized to the other five members of the conference committee. He threw them under the bus. He definitely owes an apology to his staff member - he threw her under the bus."[10][11]

Personal life[edit]

In addition to his duties as state treasurer, Kennedy is an adjunct law professor at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and a volunteer substitute teacher in the East Baton Rouge Parish public schools. He is married to the former Rebecca Ann Stulb, an attorney who also worked in the Chaffe McCall law firm. The couple lives with their son, Preston Kennedy, in Madisonville, a town in St. Tammany Parish.

He is Methodist. He is unrelated to the Kennedy family of Massachusetts.

Considered an expert on state finance, Kennedy often appears on media programs to discuss public issues, including The Moon Griffon Show, a radio talk show based from Monroe.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Roemer is no-show for opening session", Minden Press-Herald, April 7, 1991, p. 1
  2. ^ Ron Gomez, My Name Is Ron And I'm a Recovering Legislator: Memoirs of a Louisiana State Representative, Lafayette, Louisiana: Zemog Publishing, 2000, p. 247, ISBN 0-9700156-0-7
  3. ^ "Louisiana election returns for state treasurer, October 23, 1999". Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved November 13, 2013. 
  4. ^ Treasurer Bolts to GOP
  5. ^ "Louisiana election results, Date: 11/4/2008". Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved November 13, 2013. 
  6. ^ Kennedy elaborated the plan in many venues across the state. See § III of the following: Ramsey, David (2011-02-09). "Guest Presentation by State Treasurer John Neely Kennedy". Southeastern Louisiana University Faculty Senate Minutes. Retrieved 2011-10-08.  A particular focus of Kennedy's cost-saving ideas was reduction in the hiring of consultants.
  7. ^ "Michelle Milhollin, "Jindal slashes funding for state treasurer: Jindal’s 'streamlining' efforts trim critics' funding"". Baton Rouge Morning Advocate. Retrieved June 16, 2012. [dead link]
  8. ^ "Click Michael Edmonson, September 1958". voterportal.sos.la.gov. Retrieved August 1, 2014. 
  9. ^ a b Barbara Leader (July 30, 2014). "John Kennedy, board to discuss retirement benefits law". Retrieved August 1, 2014. 
  10. ^ Lee Zurik (July 28, 2014). "Lee Zurik Investigation: Riser's amendment could cost state millions". Fox 8 Live. Retrieved August 1, 2014. 
  11. ^ The Moon Griffon Show, August 1, 2014

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Suzanne Haik Terrell
Republican nominee for United States Senator from Louisiana
(Class 2)

John Neely Kennedy
2008

Succeeded by
Most recent nominee
Political offices
Preceded by
Kenneth Duncan
Louisiana State treasurer

John Neely Kennedy
2000—

Succeeded by
Incumbent