FEMA’s response defies common sense, needs to be ‘Cajunized,’ Congressman Garret Graves says

FROM The Advocate, 12/12/16 Share Share

FEMA's response to the catastrophic floods that damaged much of south Louisiana in August has been unacceptable and needs to be "Cajunized," Congressman Garret Graves said on Monday at the Baton Rouge Press Club.

Cajunizing, is a reference to the Cajun Navy, a group of volunteers who emerged in the immediate hours of the August flood with their own fishing boats to rescue people trapped in their homes.

"FEMA wasn't leading that," he said. "The community was."

He said to Cajunize the response means to "apply common sense."

"What we do in government doesn't stand up to the common sense test," he said. Graves said layers of bureaucracy have led to exorbitant government waste and a painfully slow pace of progress in terms of receiving recovery dollars and delivering services.

He noted that FEMA is spending about $150,000 per unit for mobile homes for flood victims, when the going market rate is $35,000 to $40,000 each. According to a cost breakdown, FEMA is spending $62,500 for the acquisition of the mobile home and another $43,400 on transporting, installing and maintaining the unit. FEMA is also collecting a 22 percent administrative fee for another $23,000.

Graves also said it was appalling that four months after the flood, people are still waiting for trailers and could be waiting for another month and a half. He also said the "Shelter at Home" program, which provides some repairs to flooded properties to allow people to live in their own houses while finishing the rebuilding work, was a good idea in concept but "the execution was fundamentally flawed."

He's fed up with high administrative costs, noting that almost 30 percent of Congress's first allocation to Louisiana flood recovery is being eaten up by overhead and compliance costs. That means that $127 million of the $438 million will go toward program administration instead of direct relief for homeowners, renters and businesses.

Graves said administrative costs should be much closer to 5 percent.

"The situation is that the federal government has really lost its way," he said. "If this happened in the private sector, would it survive? The clear answer is absolutely not."

Gov. John Bel Edwards defended the recovery response. His spokesman Richard Carbo said in a statement that strictly administrative costs for flood recovery are capped at 5 percent, but that "program delivery" costs for outreach, environmental reviews, determining eligibility, grant tracking, fraud prevention and other overhead, would be an estimated 20 percent of the allocation. That amount is less than the 45 percent that New York spent for similar programs after Hurricane Sandy, he said.

He also took issue with Graves' criticism of the slow pace of disbursements.

"The federal government sets the criteria for submitting proposals before funds can be disbursed to the state, and you would assume that Mr. Graves is aware of that since he serves in Congress," Carbo said. "However, he made no attempts to offer legislation to expedite the process. The initial payment of assistance was secured with unprecedented speed, and we are following HUD's guidelines to obtain final approval."

Ideally, Graves said, flood victims should have their damaged assessed and be given lump sums. Then they could make their own decisions about their recovery, whether they use the money for rental assistance, their own repairs or buying a mobile home.

He acknowledged that this could lead to a slight uptick in fraudulent spending, but said the flooding is serious enough that the government should be more generous on the front end, and then have aggressive auditing and accountability measures on the back end to seek necessary repayment.

Shifting to the recent presidential election, Graves said the problem with the disaster response and recovery are not a partisan issue. But he also said he has much reason to believe there will be new and better opportunities for governmental efficiencies under President-elect Donald Trump.

"Having a president that understands that time is money is going to be good for us," he said.

Graves said he has spoken to both Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence about the need for additional flood dollars and changes to the process to hasten the time line.

He said the incoming administration agreed that the slow pace of recovery was "absurd," but didn't make a specific promise about additional money.

But Graves remains optimistic, adding that the data clearly shows Louisiana will need more federal dollars for the flood recovery.

Congress has so far approved about $1.7 billion for the flood recovery. Officials estimate the total damage to the state is $8.7 billion and will be seeking additional dollars.

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ATTENTION FLOOD VICTIMS: Know Your Polling Location

FROM Louisiana Secretary of State, 10/24/16 Share Share

Election season is here, and it's important that you have the information needed to exercise your right to VOTE.

Many poll locations have changed in East Baton Rouge, Livingston and Ascension Parishes due to the Great Flood of 2016. If you live in one of these parishes, review the corresponding document below to ensure you know where to go to cast your vote.

Then, Geaux Vote!

Louisiana Sheriffs Endorse Garret Graves for U.S. Sixth Congressional District

FROM Louisiana Sheriffs and Deputies Political Action Committee, 10/21/16 Share Share

The Louisiana Sheriffs' and Deputies' proudly announce their endorsement of Garret Graves, in his run for re-election for U.S. Congress serving Louisiana's Sixth Congressional District. According to the Louisiana Sheriffs' Associations Political Action Committee Chairman, West Baton Rouge Sheriff Mike Cazes, "It is the decision of the Sheriffs of District 6 to support Congressman Graves in his forthcoming election on November 8th, 2016."

In issuing the endorsement, Sheriff Cazes said, "Congressman Graves has proven to be a strong supporter of Louisiana's Sheriffs and their constituents. Most recently, he fought to help Louisiana receive additional support during the Great Flood of 2016. Additionally, he worked with the U.S. Department of Justice to gain recovery support for law enforcement after our recent officer shootings. The Louisiana Sheriffs' Associations Political Action Committee and the sheriffs of District 6 are proud to support Congressman Graves in his run for re-election to Congress.

The Louisiana Sheriffs' Association is a bipartisan organization, composed of Louisiana's 64 sheriffs and nearly 14,000 deputy sheriffs, established to represent Louisiana's chief law enforcement officers across the state. The Association's purpose is to maintain the constitutional authority of sheriff as chief law enforcement officer, ensure delivery of first rate services, and to sponsor legislation that promotes the administration of criminal justice.

Garret Graves gives the 6th District a strong voice in Congress: Editorial

FROM NOLA.com, 10/21/16 Share Share

U.S. Rep. Garret Graves, a Republican from Baton Rouge, has been a strong advocate for the 6th District and the state as a whole in his first two years in Congress. He was instrumental in getting his colleagues in the House to approve a flood relief package after historic rainfall in south Louisiana in August. He organized a trip to the flood zone for members of Congress from other states to help them understand the breadth of damage.

That approach proved very helpful after Hurricane Katrina and the levee breaches in 2005. Rep. Graves also successfully pushed for a substantial increase in federal funding for vital Louisiana highway projects, including work that should ease congestion on Interstate 10 in Baton Rouge. He showed strong leadership after the shooting death of Alton Sterling by Baton Rouge police and the attack by a gunman less than two weeks later that left three law enforcement officers dead. Rep. Graves and 2nd District Rep. Cedric Richmond filed legislation to improve police training for handling volatile situations without guns and to fund research into better non-lethal weapons. The two congressmen also are working to get federal resources for the families of the slain officers.

Mr. Graves, a Baton Rouge native, spent six years as the chairman of Louisiana's Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority before being elected to Congress in 2014. His expertise on coastal restoration is vital to Louisiana's efforts to stop land loss. The 6th Congressional District includes parts of East and West Baton Rouge, St. John, St. Charles and several other parishes.

Rep. Graves Reflects on Deepwater Horizon and Recovery

FROM Talk 107.3, 04/21/16 Share Share

Rep. Graves on Talk 107.3 FM: “totally opposed to bailing out Puerto Rico”

FROM Talk 107.3, 04/15/16 Share Share

Listen to Congressman Graves' thoughts on a proposed bailout of Puerto Rico during an interview with Talk 107.3 AM Baton Rouge.

Graves Calls for Prohibition of Funding for Well Control Rule

FROM The Ripon Advance, 03/30/16 Share Share

U.S. Reps. Garret Graves (R-LA) and Charles Boustany (R-LA) recently coauthored a letter to the House Appropriations Committee calling for a prohibition on funds to implement an oil well control rule.

The congressmen asked the committee to prohibit the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) from using federal funds to implement a proposed rule titled “Oil and Gas and Sulphur Operations in the Outer Continental Shelf-Blowout Preventer Systems and Well Control.”

“We lost 11 lives during the Deepwater Horizon disaster and have lost 25 percent of the oil and gas jobs in the state of Louisiana over the last 14 months,” Graves said. “Misguided regulations like this only add to these tragedies. This is a perfect example of uninformed bureaucrats attempting to write highly technical rules and entirely missing the mark.

The lawmakers contend that BSEE’s “one-size-fits-all” rule could result in decreased safety and increased drilling risks. Gas and oil industry stakeholders have argued that the new rule would result in a de facto moratorium in drilling until new technology is developed.

"The Department of the Interior estimates compliance with the rule would cost approximately $880 million, while a private study found it could cost nearly $95 billion. There is a fundamental disconnect there that needs to be resolved. If finalized, this rule would result in less safe offshore conditions and a further bleeding of energy jobs in Louisiana," Graves said.

"I am all for innovation and improving safety, but this rule needs to go back to the drawing board."

Read the full letter text here.

CCA Louisiana Honors Garret Graves as Conservationist of the Year

FROM CCA Louisiana, 02/25/16 Share Share

The Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) of Louisiana is excited to announce that it will honor U.S. Representative Garret Graves with the 2016 Jerry Stone Conservationist of the Year. The award, to be presented during the CCA Louisiana State Convention on February 26, is the highest conservation award given by the organization each year.

“Garret Graves has been a champion for conservation since being elected to Congress in 2014, and before that during his service in state government,” said CCA Louisiana CEO David Cresson. “As an outdoorsman himself, Garret truly understands the importance of good stewardship and sound fisheries management, and these principals shine through in his work in Louisiana and on Capitol Hill.”

As a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Graves introduced the Gulf States Red Snapper Management Authority Act in 2015, legislation that would transfer management of Gulf red snapper away from the federal government to the five Gulf States. His bill, which enjoys the bipartisan support of nearly 30 Members, would transfer red snapper management authority away from today’s ineffective federally run program to a more sustainable, data-driven management organization led by the five Gulf States. The move to state-based management would ensure the long-term sustainability of the fishery, yield more frequent stock assessments and improved regional collaboration in the collection and use of timely fishery data and would improve access to red snapper for recreational anglers across the Gulf South, while ensuring protection of access for the commercial fishing industry.

“We have a lot of work to do,” Graves continued, “from preserving our cultural heritage through wetlands restoration and protection efforts to ensuring we are sustainably managing the treasured public resource of coastal fisheries so our kids and grandkids can experience the joy angling. I’m excited to continue our progress.”

Read the full release here.

Congressman Graves Urges Support for Balanced Budget Amendment

FROM Garret Graves, 02/17/16 Share Share

Along with nearly 30 freshman Members of Congress, I joined in sending a letter to all Republican presidential candidates urging them to support our efforts to pass a Balanced Budget Amendment.

The letter, sent to the presidential contenders this week, notes that, “one of the primary threats to our freedoms and way of life is the smothering $19 trillion national debt. For decades, reckless spending and borrowing by Washington politicians and bureaucrats has created this growing fiscal monster.”

“Washington desperately needs fiscal discipline not only in Congress but also in the White House. Our next President will have tremendous influence over the fiscal health of our federal government. That, in turn, will impact economic growth, job creation, and our national defense.”

This chaotic presidential election has been marked by widely shared voter frustration with Washington and campaign themes centered on challenging the status quo. As this election progresses, it is critical that we make the candidates focus on important issues facing the nation.

In the next six years, just the interest on our national debt, not the principle, will cost more than we spend on our military. It will only worsen from there.

Rather than allowing this presidential election to spiral into personal attacks and one-liners, we need to demand commitments. We must refocus on eliminating wasteful federal government spending and paying off the growing national debt.

Our nation is on the wrong track - our next president must work with Congress to steer America in a new, fiscally-sound direction.

Garret Graves letter to presidential candidates

The full text of the letter can be read here.


Congressman-Elect Garret Graves Announces Top Staff Appointments

FROM Garret Graves, 12/18/14 Share Share

BATON ROUGE - Newly elected Congressman Garret Graves from Louisiana’s 6th District announced today that Paul Sawyer will be his Chief of Staff and Kevin Roig will serve as Deputy Chief of Staff & Communications Director. “The mandate from the voters in South Louisiana and the nation is clear – they want to get America back on track and they want to end the dysfunction in Washington. We have no time to waste. Paul and Kevin bring the background and skills that will ensure we hit the ground running,” said Congressman-Elect Graves.

Sawyer will step down from his current role serving alongside LED Secretary Stephen Moret as the Director of Federal Programs.

"I am very excited for Paul, Congressman-Elect Garret Graves, and Louisiana’s Sixth District. Garret could not have made a better selection for his chief of staff,” commented Moret. "Paul has been a critical part of our senior team at LED for nearly six years. It would be difficult to overstate his contributions to our work on many fronts. Paul’s experience will be particularly useful to Congressman-elect Graves in his efforts to strengthen our state's energy and maritime economy, develop solid transportation solutions, and support the economic development of our state.”

"Thankfully, the voters of the Sixth District elected a dynamic leader like Garret Graves, someone I have admired for many years. It is an honor to serve the people of South Louisiana on a team that promises to work tirelessly for them,” added Sawyer.

Mr. Roig most recently served as campaign manager of the Garret Graves for Congress campaign. He previously worked as Client Manager for General Electric’s healthcare division in South Louisiana hospitals.

“Kevin helped us to execute an efficient, disciplined and well-run campaign, and we look forward to introducing those skills to Washington,” said Graves

Prior to his role at LED, Paul was the Director of Government and Public Relations at Albemarle and served as Chief of Staff for Congressman Richard Baker for most of Sawyer's fifteen years with The Sixth District. A native of Baton Rouge, Paul is married and has two children.

Kevin Roig, a native of Covington, is married and earned his undergraduate degree and an MBA from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.

Congressman-Elect Garret Graves announces committee recommendations

FROM Garret Graves, 12/12/14 Share Share

Congressman-Elect Garret Graves announced the recommendation of the House Republican Steering Committee that he be appointed to a pair of committees upon entering Congress in January.

"I am pleased to be recommended by the House Republican Steering Committee to serve on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the House Natural Resources Committee. Both committees represent the policy priorities that are absolutely critical to South Louisiana - safe and efficient transportation, flood control, hurricane protection, maritime commerce, coastal restoration, and energy production. If I am ratified as a member of these committees, I will be best positioned to shape vital transportation solutions and to optimize our maritime and energy economy."

Graves' full committee membership is completed once the House of Representatives ratifies the Steering Committee recommendation on January 6, 2015.

Colonel Rob Maness Endorses Garret Graves for Congress

FROM Campaign News, 12/01/14 Share Share

Baton Rouge, LA – Today, Colonel Rob Maness announced his endorsement of Republican Nominee for Congress in Louisiana’s 6th District, Garret Graves. The endorsement comes after Graves received 27% of the vote in the primary, setting up a December 6th runoff against Democrat Edwin Edwards.

Maness threw support behind Garret Graves for Congress saying, "Today, I am proud to lend my support to Garret Graves. A life-long Louisianan, Graves’s passion for our state burns bright. His life experiences serving in the public and private sectors, including his own family’s small business, have instilled in him the belief that we aren’t supposed to work for Washington, but Washington is supposed to work for us.

An avid outdoorsman, Graves knows Louisiana has been blessed with abundant natural resources that can, and should, power America… Garret Graves is the conservative choice for Louisiana’s 6th Congressional District. Our state is fortunate that he is willing to serve and I’m proud to join with other conservatives in supporting him."

Graves, a Baton Rouge native, spent six years as the chairman of Louisiana's Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and is an expert in the state's 50-year, $50 billion coastal master plan. He also represented the state in negotiations with BP and public agencies after the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill in 2010. In addition, he has legislative experience as a former aide to U.S. Sen. David Vitter, where he worked with the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. Garret spent the early years of his career teaching outdoor education and working in the land surveying and civil engineering industry.

The runoff election will be held on December 6th with polls being open from 7am – 8pm.

Interview with Garret Graves, Candidate in Louisiana’s 6th Congressional District

FROM Tea Party Express, 11/25/14 Share Share

Garret Graves, Republican candidate in Louisiana’s 6th Congressional District, talks about his record of cutting waste in government as chairman of Louisiana’s Coastal program, as well as his campaign against former Gov. Edwin Edwards and his positions on Common Core and Obama’s recent amnesty announcement.

Garret Graves for Congress

FROM The Livingston Parish News, 11/14/14 Share Share

Today, the Livingston Parish News proudly endorses Garret Graves to represent the 6th District in Congress. On Nov. 4, voters singled him out from among a large field of more familiar faces to be their new voice in Washington. On Dec. 6 he will dispatch convicted felon former Gov. Edwin Edwards in a runoff, bringing down the curtain on that political farce and restoring some dignity to our state.

Graves easily led all eight Republicans in a field of 12 candidates, including two legislators, a respected businessman and the grandson of a famous LSU football coach. Republicans as a group garnered more than 64 percent of the vote and those voters should pull behind Graves now, sending him to Congress and sending a message to the world that we are focused on our bright future, not an ugly past.

It is our good fortune to have a standard bearer for that future who is highly knowledgeable and experienced in the nuts and bolts of public service. Graves, while still a young man at 42 with a wife and three young children, has worked for both Democratic Sen. John Breaux and Republican Rep. Billy Tauzin as well as Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal. He knows how government functions and how to work with people on both sides of the aisle.

Most recently he served for six years as Chair of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana, created to coordinate recovery efforts from Hurricane Katrina and, five years later, the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. His reputation for problem solving has won over respect and support from many quarters often at odds, such as oil and gas industries and environmentalists.

He took a unique route into elective politics, with on-the-job training first in government offices where he learned how things actually get done. Getting things done should resonate with many voters who are tired of politics as usual and the finger-pointing excuses that too often substitute for results.

Having grown up the son of a small businessman in Baton Rouge during the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, he’s experienced the highs and lows of life the way many of us have. He’s seen good times and bad. More, he comprehends why good times became bad ones and how government policies impact the economy in both directions.

His experiences molded him into a small government, free market, pro-business conservative, which is exactly what we need in Washington today. We have a chance to elect a representative who understands government, who is ready to hold it accountable, to oppose waste and excess and to fight for the needs of this district, particularly highways and flood control.

Garret Graves knows what our priorities are and knows how to address them with honest, realistic action rather than glib talk. We need him in Washington.

NRA Endorses Garret Graves for Congress in Louisiana’s 6th District

FROM National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund, 11/10/14 Share Share


Dear Mr. Graves,

On behalf of our five million members across the country, the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF) is proud to endorse your candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives in the run-off election for Louisiana's 6th Congressional District.

Based on your support of and commitment to the Second Amendment, you have recieved an "AQ" rating from NRA-PVF in the December 6, 2014, run-off election. An "AQ" is reserved for a pro-gun candidate whose rating is based on pro-gun responses to the NRA-PVF Candidate Questionnaire and is the highest rating a candidate can receive without a voting record on Second Amendment issues.

You have clearly stated that you oppose all attempts to ban lawfully owned firearms and magazines, and will stand strong against President Obama and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's gun control agenda.

In addition, you oppose the Obama-Bloomberg so-called "universal" background check system that would criminalize the private transfer of a firearm between life-long friends and many family members.

Finally, you support concealed carry reciprocity, which would enable law-abiding Americans to carry a concealed firearm in any other state that does not prohibit concealed carry.
Congratulations on your "AQ" rating and endorsement, and thank you for your steadfast support of the Second Amendment. Good luck with your campaign, and we look forward to our continued relationship.

Signed: Chris W. Cox, Chairman, NRA-PVF

National Right to Life Endorses Garret Graves

FROM National Right to Life, 11/06/14 Share Share

November 5, 2014

Dear Mr. Graves,

National Right to Life is pleased to endorse you for election to the U.S. House of Representatives, to
represent the 6th Congressional District of Louisiana.

You are a strong advocate for life. You support pro-life legislation and you oppose the use of federal
funds for abortion.

In 2010 Congress voted to enact President Obama’s health care law, which provides government
funding for health plans that pay for abortion on demand, and will result in the rationing of lifesaving
medical treatments. You are needed in Congress to help reverse the abortion-expanding and rationing
effects of that law.

This endorsement reflects your commitment to strengthening a culture of life throughout the nation
and in the U.S. Congress. We look forward to working with you to protect the most vulnerable
members of the human family – unborn children and medically dependent or disabled persons, whose
lives are threatened by abortion or euthanasia.

All voters who are concerned with the right to life and with the protection of the most vulnerable
members of the human family should vote to send you to Congress, so that you can work to advance
vital pro-life public policies.

David N. O'Steen, Ph.D., Executive Director
Darla St. Martin, Co-Executive Director
Karen Cross, Political Director

The Bayou Region Supports Garret Graves for Congress

FROM Garret Graves for Congress, 11/02/14 Share Share

On The Record

FROM Garret Graves for Congress, 10/31/14 Share Share

Garret attended UA, Louisiana Tech, and American University; he was on the Dean's list and President's list. He has 5 years of college education under his belt. He studied Civil Engineering, Econ and Poli Sci but ultimately decided to forgo his final year to accept a full time job offered to him.

Garret was born, raised, and has lived the overwhelming majority of his life in Baton Rouge. He bought a modest, 1,300 square foot house in DC while he was working up there. When he moved back to Louisiana in 2008, he bought a house in the Garden District in Baton Rouge and decided to not sell his the DC house because of unfavorable conditions in the housing market. He lives in Baton Rouge full time with his family.

Private Sector:
Garret has worked in various roles with his family's civil engineering company for many years. He's currently an independent business development consultant.

Government Experience:
Garret worked for three republican committee chairmen and for Sen. Vitter (on committee). Billy Tauzin was a Republican when Garret worked for him. Garret has been life-long registered R. All of this is public record.

Garret's "career" with Breaux was a one month internship where he asked Garret to stay on as an intern for another month. He then offered Garret a job. Rather than taking the job, Garret went to work for Tauzin who was a Republican.

There was a federal board related to the BP oil spill where each gulf governor involved sent a representative. Since it was a federal board, the president technically "named" the members. However, the White House press release even says that they did so only because governors nominated the members of the board. The president really did not have much discretion.

Nation’s Largest Grassroots Business Network Identifies Graves as “Pro-Prosperity” Candidate

FROM BIPAC (Press Release), 10/06/14 Share Share


Nation’s Largest Grassroots Business Network Identifies Graves as “Pro-Prosperity” Candidate BIPAC Action Fund Endorses Garret Graves for U.S. House

The Business-Industry Political Action Committee (BIPAC) – the largest Grassroots Business Network in the United States – has endorsed Garret Graves for Louisiana’s 6th Congressional District, identifying him as the “Pro-Prosperity” Candidate. BIPAC’s endorsement means that there was broad consensus amongst BIPAC members, Louisiana state and local employers, and business organizations that Graves will be the strongest advocate for growing America’s economy.

“Graves’ background in the private and public sectors make him an invaluable addition to Congress,” said BIPAC’s Sr. Vice President of Political Affairs, Bo Harmon. “Graves understands the role of government and what businesses need to grow and create jobs, creating prosperity for all Americans.”

Local business leaders across South Louisiana echo BIPAC’s endorsement of Graves:

“As a small business owner, I am confident that Garret understands the issues and challenges facing small businesses. His record of nearly 20-years of cutting through the bureaucracy to support and expand a strong business climate here at home makes his campaign a certainty rather than a gamble,” Rickey Heroman, Rickey Heroman’s Florist and Gifts.

“Garret's endorsement of small government and returning power back to the states has impressed me. Also, having a record of applying common sense to complex problems is one of his strengths as he has demonstrated in his prior position as chair of the Louisiana CPRA. As an owner of a small antiques business, I support his plan to reduce our complicated tax structure to allow small businesses to expand,” Karen Zobrist, Karen's Antiques (Denham Springs).

“Garret understands what drives the economy in South Louisiana. He has a proven record of breaking through the bureaucracy and dysfunction of Washington," Lane Grigsby, Cajun Industries.

“We need someone that knows South Louisiana and has a proven record of putting the people first. Garret understands the implications of government regulations on our ability to create jobs and feed families,” Donny Rouse, Rouse’s Supermarkets.

“I am pleased to be endorsed by such a well-respected pro-business organization. BIPAC knows that I will work hard to create policy changes and legislation that will lead to economic growth, while fighting against anti-business regulations and restrictions,” said Graves.

BIPAC’s action fund will make a contribution to Graves’ Congressional campaign as well as encourage support from its membership on his behalf. Additionally, BIPAC will provide local employers the tools to directly engage employees across the 6th District.

Champion of the Coast

FROM Dig Baton Rouge, 09/17/14 Share Share

By Claire Salinas

Garret Graves is not just a candidate for the United States Congress; he’s also a passionate advocate for coastal restoration. Graves has been working to promote and advance this cause in Louisiana for the past 18 years, and he is convinced that saving the coastline needs to become a priority for the nation.

Graves explained that observing the importance the United States placed on issues around the world over those here at home is what sparked his interest in coastal restoration.

“When you look across the government, we have spent trillions of dollars – that’s trillion with a ‘t’ – on a ton of efforts to be kind of an international police to the world. We’ve gone in and built infrastructures and restored wetlands in other countries, but many times we have not held our own people to the same standards.”

According to Graves, while some see the investment in the coast as “liberal government spending,” investing money in the problem now, could save the government a lot of money in the long-run.

“The Congressional Budget Office did an analysis that determined for every one dollar you invest proactively in flood prevention, you get three dollars in cost savings. A study done by FEMA says it was actually four dollars and some believe it’s even higher. Looking at Hurricane Katrina, if we had invested $10 billion on the front end, we could’ve saved 90 percent of the lives lost and the money the Federal Government spent reacting to the storm.”

If you’re scratching your head wondering exactly what the issue with the coast is, Graves explains it as a “largely a failed pluming project gone wrong.”

It was a situation, he says, “where the Federal Government came in to prevent flooding, yet their efforts caused the greatest loss of coastal lands in our nation’s history, therefore making us more vulnerable to hurricane and flooding.”

For those who see coastal restoration as another superfluous environmental issue that should be put on the backburner while more pressing societal issues are dealt with, Graves has an answer.

“Something that is fundamental, just like food, shelter and water, is safety. Those roads and schools [being invested in by the government] don’t do any good if they are under water. It’s really a fundamental issue to be addressed in terms of flood prevention, hurricane protection and coastal restoration. I’m not saying you need to put this ahead of all road and school investments, but it’s a priority and it should be treated as such.”

Graves recently resigned from his position as Gov. Jindal’s coastal advisor and head of the Coastal Protection and Recovery Authority. He has also founded his own nonprofit, The Coastal Sustainability Foundation, so it’s obvious that coastal restoration is important to him.

While there doesn’t seem to be a lack of people willing to invest their resources into this issue, at the moment those who share Graves’ passion don’t have a simple way to contribute to the cause.

“There is a significant need to indicate to people what is happening to people in South Louisiana and its profound effect on the economy to the entire state. We need to find ways to take advantages of the generous resources of people in South Louisiana that want to help with the coast. The coast issue is not something you can come in and just volunteer for an hour like you can with Habitat for Humanity or other charities. It’s a much more massive and complex problem. The idea is to develop a way for people to commit their time, energy and resources to improving the resiliency of coastal Louisiana.”

Graves reminds people that while there are many important causes to support, protecting and investing in the people of Louisiana is the most important.

“You listen to endangered species debates that say, ‘You can’t do anything here because it’s for endangered species.” You hear about all the restrictions put on private property owners to protect these species, but in South Louisiana we’re endangering the habitats where we live and where our culture and our seafood is. I think the priorities in this country need to be reevaluated and reassessed, because it’s not a question of if you’re going to spend the money, but when.”

Garret Graves rallies students to work for campaign

FROM The Daily Reveille, 09/08/14 Share Share

by Savanah Dickinson
The Daily Reveille

Garret Graves is encouraging students to help him run for Congress in Louisiana’s 6th Congressional District. Graves spoke to a crowd of about 30 students in the Business Education Complex on Sunday, encouraging them to intern for his campaign.

Graves said University students are an important demographic because they are idealists and have the desire to change the world.

“I want to give you an opportunity to get involved and take that energy, to take that desire, to take that drive that you have to change the world, to be idealistic, because I still am,” Graves said.

With the prevalence of social media, his campaign needs the help of young voters. Graves is building a social media network to reach out to young voters, utilizing Facebook and Twitter.

Graves said he wants his interns to speak to their friends about the campaign, creating a snowball effect on campus to engage other students. Graves’ campaign manager Kevin Roig and political director Ryan Lambert spoke about what an internship with the Graves campaign entails.

“Our main focus is on voter contact,” Lambert said.

Lambert said the next phase of the campaign is knocking on doors and surveying potential voters. He said the Graves campaign has been active in every parish in of the congressional district, and he foresees Graves campaigning in every precinct in the district.

Graves told students he never intended to run for political office, and he enjoyed working behind the scenes.

Over the last year, Louisiana residents began asking Graves to run for Congress because of his work with his family’s small business and time spent as chair of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana under Gov. Bobby Jindal.

“I love the outdoors. I love Louisiana,” Graves said.

Graves emphasized the importance of electing a candidate who understands how vital maritime commerce and the oil and gas industry are to Louisiana.

“We have to send people [to Washington, D.C.] that understand the fundamental aspects of our state,” Graves said.

Graves began his experience in Washington, D.C., as an intern while attending Louisiana Tech University.

He intended to stay in D.C. for one month, but one month turned into 12 years.

“Congress is the best place to figure out what you want to do,” Graves said.

During his time in D.C., Graves said he realized his passion for serving his home state.

“We need people that know Louisiana,” Graves said.

Graves’ humble beginnings also encouraged him to run for office.

Graves said he grew up in a two-bedroom, one-bathroom home in Baton Rouge with four siblings who shared two beds. They spent numerous summers eating ramen noodles and Spam.

“My father worked his butt off to achieve his version of the American dream,” Graves said.

LA-6 Candidate Garret Graves on the HTV 10 Bayou Time

FROM HTV 10, 08/13/14 Share Share

Garret Graves joins HTV 10 and Bayou Time to talk about his candidacy for Congress in Louisiana's 6th District.

Graves to Open Campaign Headquarters

FROM The Advocate, 07/22/14 Share Share

Congressional candidate Garret Graves is opening his campaign headquarters, and he’s offering free lunch to the media if they show up for the ribbon cutting.

Graves, a Republican running in the 6th Congressional District, is locating near Government Street in Baton Rouge at 660 Jefferson Highway.

The grand opening is Wednesday at 11:30 a.m.

One of Graves’ congressional opponents is former Gov. Edwin Edwards, whose office is a mile or so away on Jefferson Highway.

Note from Team Graves: To RSVP email rsvp@garret2014.com.

Garret Graves Will Drop A Massive Number For The Second Quarter

FROM The Hayride, 07/15/14 Share Share

Over the weekend, the Baton Rouge Advocate had a piece by Mark Ballard about the crowded race to replace Bill Cassidy in the 6th Congressional District of Louisiana.

Ballard’s take on the race: it will be a complete fracas decided by a close margin…

The reason why this Louisiana congressional race is expected to get dicey is because only one Republican likely will make the Dec. 6 runoff — probably against former Gov. Edwin W. Edwards, a Democrat — in a race for a seat that almost assuredly will go GOP.

Even though the 6th District’s 491,000 registered voters overwhelmingly support Republican candidates — Cassidy received 79 percent of the vote in 2012 — the supporters of the eight will be spread so thin that only a handful of ballots will separate the top vote-getters.

That was Saturday. Today, we see indications Ballard might be dead wrong. Because while it’s difficult to find a clear favorite in the polls for a Republican entry alongside former governor and federal inmate Edwin Edwards, who is expected to make the runoff, there appears to be a certain favorite on the money side.

A release this afternoon by the campaign of Garret Graves…

Conservative Republican candidate for Congress, Garret Graves announced today that he will report raising $493,354 for the second quarter, with a cash on hand total of $722,070. This brings Graves’ overall fundraising total to-date to $814,182 in four months.

“These are remarkable fundraising numbers for a candidate in an open seat. I believe it’s a testament to the enthusiasm people have in electing a bright young conservative problem solver,” said Christel Slaughter, Campaign Treasurer. “When you have a good product, it sells itself.”

Hundreds of donors from across Louisiana donated to Graves’ campaign. The movement has included support from Mary Matalin, the Koch PAC, more than a dozen parish presidents and hundreds of hard-working Louisiana natives looking for proven leadership.

“We’ve run this campaign with the same approach we’ll take to governing. We’ve been fiscally-sound and tactically-smart- two skills they could use in Washington. As we move forward, I’m confident we’ll be able to win this race and take these values to Washington and repeal Obama’s reckless agenda,” said Graves.

Raising just under a half-million dollars in a single quarter for a congressional race is absolutely breathtaking. By comparison, Bill Cassidy’s 2nd quarter filing in 2012 showed him raising only $264,000. While Cassidy didn’t have a viable opponent and therefore wasn’t in a hot race necessitating aggressive fundraising he was nevertheless an incumbent – not a first-time candidate. An incumbent who was in a hot race was Charles Boustany, and Boustany’s 2nd quarter filing that year showed him raising $741,000. Boustany’s opponent Jeff Landry was also an incumbent, though Landry was in a very difficult race after being essentially thrown into Boustany’s district. He raised $293,000 in the 2nd quarter of 2012.

As you can see, that’s a monster figure.

The fact that he was able to raise it without spending hardly anything to get it makes Graves the 800-pound gorilla in the race at this point.

Nobody knows who Graves is yet, and he doesn’t show up in the polls as a result. He’s coming into elective politics after a long stint as a congressional staffer, which would have kept him out of the public eye, and a shorter stint as the head of Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, which makes him known to some governmental officials and a few voters in the southern parts of the district.

But with the kind of war chest Graves is building, he will have the ability to define himself as no other candidate so far looks to be able. He’s also built a team around him full of well-known names in Louisiana politics – Josh Robinson, Cassidy’s former chief of staff and the guru behind Vance McAllister’s 2013 special election win being one, and Jason Hebert and Scott Hobbs of Baton Rouge-based The Political Firm being others – and he has the fuel to use their talents.

(Edit: Robinson was on board to help get the campaign off the ground, but his role has been completed for now. Graves’ general consultant is Chris Carr, a McNeese State graduate who has worked at the RNC and for the Romney campaign in 2012, among other national roles).

This is not to say Graves can’t be beaten, or even that he’s the best candidate. But that second-quarter figure is a major obstacle for any of Graves’ challengers to overcome. From this point they’ll be short-stacked and outspent, and they’ll have to win with guerrilla campaigns based on grassroots support and word-of-mouth name ID.

Don’t be shocked to see a host of viral campaign videos like the ones Dan Claitor, Lenar Whitney and Craig McCulloch have released recently. Those are relatively cheap to produce and they offer a chance to capture the imagination of conservatives outside of the district who might help to alleviate the disadvantage the candidates will have against Graves.

To match what Graves has in the bank will require 2nd quarter disclosures that frankly don’t appear possible. Dietzel’s first quarter filing showed him with $70,000 in the bank. Claitor’s said he had $134,000. McCulloch had $107,000. Cassie Felder had $19,000. Nobody else even showed any appreciable war chest outside of the $32,000 Edwards claimed on his disclosure.

Graves Campaign Announces Strong 2nd Quarter Financial Support

FROM Campaign Blog, 07/14/14 Share Share

Graves Campaign Announces Strong 2nd Quarter Financial Support

Supporters donate nearly half a million dollars in the 2nd Quarter of 2014, and more than $800,000 in four months to elect Garret Graves

Baton Rouge - Conservative Republican candidate for Congress, Garret Graves announced today that he will report raising $493,354 for the second quarter, with a cash on hand total of $722,070. This brings Graves’ overall fundraising total to-date to $814,182 in four months.

“These are remarkable fundraising numbers for a candidate in an open seat. I believe it’s a testament to the enthusiasm people have in electing a bright young conservative problem solver,” said Christel Slaughter, Campaign Treasurer. “When you have a good product, it sells itself.”

Hundreds of donors from across Louisiana donated to Graves’ campaign. The movement has included support from Mary Matalin, the Koch PAC, more than a dozen parish presidents and hundreds of hard-working Louisiana natives looking for proven leadership.

“We’ve run this campaign with the same approach we’ll take to governing. We’ve been fiscally-sound and tactically-smart- two skills they could use in Washington. As we move forward, I’m confident we’ll be able to win this race and take these values to Washington and repeal Obama’s reckless agenda,” said Graves.

12 Parish Presidents host breakfast for Garret Graves Congress run

FROM Bayou Buzz, 06/26/14 Share Share

If political endorsements mean anything in the upcoming 6th Congressional District race, Garret Graves has picked up a lot of "meanings.

Republican, Graves, former Jindal official, who has been doing quite well in the fundraising-arena, is looking forward to a major fundraising event, however, this one, with the help of some heavy campaign artillery.

An invitation to a June 26 breakfast in Norco Louisiana reflects that Graves has obtained the endorsements of major Parish Presidents in the South Louisiana region. The invitation reports the following Parish Presidents hosting the event:


The breakfast will be held from 8 a.m. until 10 a.m. at LA MAISON MAGNOLIA RECEPTION HALL.

Is your land really yours?

FROM Talk 107.3, 05/26/14 Share Share

The Zeringue family in Raceland is one of a handful of property owners that could have their property taken away from them by the Federal Government. The land grab would be part of $14 billion in Coastal restoration projects by the Army Corps of Engineers

Garrett Graves, former Chairman of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority tells Kevin and Brian on Talk 107.3's Morning Show why he thinks that's the wrong move.

America’s Coast: The Louisiana Precedent: Garret Graves at TEDxLSU

FROM TEDx Talks, 05/14/14 Share Share

America's Coasts are seeing explosive development. Expanding coastal port complexes, more Americans moving to the waters' edge, increasing demand for wild seafood and other factors are being coupled with relative sea-rise, coastal erosion, flooding and natural disaster threats. Were the Hurricane Katrina and Sandy disasters a wake up call? As the "canary in the coal mine" for America's coast, this TEDx talk explores the Louisiana precedent for tens of millions living near our oceans, gulf and great lakes. Our decisions to balance economic, fiscal and environmental forces will affect our country for generations to come. Can hurricanes be just another rainy day?

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)

Former Coastal Resto director is ready to be next District 6 Congressman

FROM Talk 107.3, 04/23/14 Share Share

Garret Graves is the former head of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, and is running for the House seat left vacant by Bill Cassisy's run for U.S. Senate.

Graves talked with morning show hosts Kevin Gallagher and Brian Haldane on Wednesday morning; laying out his reasons for entering the race and his priorities if elected.

Garret Graves Raises $320,000 in Just One Month

FROM Campaign Blog, 04/15/14 Share Share

Garret Graves, who entered the race for Louisiana's 6th congressional district just over a month ago, filed his first campaign financial report with the Federal Elections Commission today. The report shows that Graves' campaign surpassed its own financial goals by raising $320,827 and having $312,631 cash on hand.

"We are meeting with people all over the district and our message is resonating," says Graves. "Louisianians want to see an end to the partisan fighting and have Congress do its job."

Garret Graves previously served as Chair of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana (CPRA). In six years, Graves eliminated decades of repetitive studies, wasteful spending, bloated bureaucracy and red tape. In carrying out his vision for hurricane protection, coastal restoration and flood control, the state protected more homes, businesses and jobs that ever before.

Graves is a Baton Rouge native, is married and has three children. Prior to his time at the CPRA, Graves spent his early career as an advisory to Senators David Vitter and John Breaux, and Congressman Billy Tauzin working on bipartisan solutions to problems affecting Louisiana.

Garret Graves to run for Louisiana 6th District Congressional seat

FROM BestOfNewOrleans.com, 02/26/14 Share Share

By Kevin Allman

Garret Graves, who recently resigned as chairman of the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) and Gov. Bobby Jindal's "coastal czar," confirmed today he'll be running for the 6th District Congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Bill Cassidy.

In a statement announcing the decision, Graves said, "We need to get the government out of our healthcare decisions, private communications, economic markets and daily lives. Government is increasingly part of our nation’s problem and it is not bringing forward solutions."

Graves' profile was raised during the 2010 BP oil disaster, and again last year when he emerged as Jindal's point men against an lawsuit brought by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East (SLFPA-E) against oil and gas companies.

Seven Republicans and two Democrats already have announced their intention to run for the 6th District seat, and a couple of high-profile others — former Gov. Edwin Edwards and Family Research Council head Tony Perkins — haven't ruled out doing so. The election will be Nov. 4, 2014.

Below the jump: Graves' statement.


Brings unique and unequalled experience to race

BATON ROUGE – Today, Garret Graves of Baton Rouge announced his intention to be Louisiana’s 6th District representative in the United States Congress. The Congressional seat will become vacant due to Representative Bill Cassidy running for the U.S. Senate.

“I’m all in,” said Graves, following weeks of soul-searching, family discussion, meeting with community leaders and prayer. “We have a tremendous opportunity as a nation and state. In Louisiana, there is an overwhelming sentiment that we need effective representation to change the direction of Congress.”

Garret Graves previously served as Chair of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana (CPRA). In six years, Garret replaced decades of repetitive studies, wasteful spending, bloated bureaucracy and red tape with results. In carrying out his vision for hurricane protection, coastal restoration and flood control, the state protected more homes, businesses and jobs than ever before.

With Graves' leadership, state government did more for less.

Every child born today immediately inherits a $1,500,000 share of our national debt over his or her lifetime and that is unconscionable. “We need to get the government out of our healthcare decisions, private communications, economic markets and daily lives. Government is increasingly part of our nation’s problem and it is not bringing forward solutions. We must reverse the trend of subsidizing federal failures,” said Graves.

Graves is a Baton Rouge native and Catholic High graduate. Prior to his time at CPRA, Garret spent his early career focused on achieving beneficial solutions for Louisiana over partisan politics while serving as an advisor to Senators David Vitter and John Breaux, along with Congressman Billy Tauzin.

“While our country is still the best in the world, our children and grandchildren don’t have the same shot at the American Dream as our parents and grandparents did. That is not right. I will not stand on the sidelines. I have a record of eliminating wasteful bureaucracy and getting government back on track, skills that our country needs now more than ever.”

Garret, Carissa and their three children live in Baton Rouge, and attend The Chapel church on LSU campus.

Garret Graves, former coastal adviser, to run for Congress

FROM WWL-TV, 02/26/14 Share Share

The former coastal adviser to Governor Bobby Jindal has decided to run for Congress just more than a week after resigning his former post.

Garret Graves said he intends to run to replace Representative Bill Cassidy who is running for U.S. Senate.

“I’m all in,” said Graves in a statement. “We have a tremendous opportunity as a nation and state. In Louisiana, there is an overwhelming sentiment that we need effective representation to change the direction of Congress.”

Graves was officially the Chair of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana for the past six years under Governor Bobby Jindal.

Sand from Ship Shoal used to build barrier project south of Port Fourchon

FROM New Orleans Advocate, 12/15/13 Share Share

PORT FOURCHON — A long-coveted deposit of sand from a former Mississippi River delta miles off the Louisiana shoreline is being used to help rebuild part of the state’s eroding coastline.

Known as Ship Shoal, this deposit of good sand is being mined for the first time to help build six miles of beach and dune along the Caminada Headland that fronts an area of Lafourche Parish just south of Port Fourchon.

Ship Shoal has long been recognized as a good source of material for building barrier islands or other beach areas. The problem has been its distance from shore and the associated cost of moving the material. In addition, there has been the issue of getting federal permission to dredge material from the Outer Continental Shelf, which was addressed when the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy and Management agreed to the dredging last year.

As for the cost, Garret Graves, the governor’s executive assistant for coastal activities, said lessons learned from building sand berms after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster helped make the process of transporting the material more efficient. In the 2010 berm work, sediment from the Mississippi River was put on barges and then dumped near the project site to be dredged and pumped into place.

The Caminada Headland project will build about 300 acres of beach and dune along this six-mile stretch of first-line protection for the port and Lafourche Parish. The $70 million project is being paid for with a combination of the state and parish shares of the Coastal Impact Assistance Program and $30 million in 2008 state surplus money.

“A lot of partners worked on this to make the project a reality,” Graves said, citing everyone from private landowners in the area to government agencies.

Windell Curole, director of the Lafourche Levee District, said the Caminada Headland has always been important in slowing down storm surge, not just for the port but also for the levees and communities of Lafourche Parish. All coastal communities need three things, he said: a good economy, infrastructure and environment.

“These types of project help all three,” Curole said.

Weeks Marine is dredging the sediment, loading the material onto barges and then moving it to a site west of the work area. From there, the sediment is pumped into a pipe that takes it to where it is poured onto the beach to make it both higher and wider.

Gary Johnson, project manager with Weeks Marine, said that, weather permitting, about eight or nine of these barges can be unloaded during a 24-hour work cycle. Each of the barges can carry about 3,300 cubic yards of material, that takes about an hour and a half to unload.

“We have put well over a million cubic yards on the beach,” Johnson said.

A total of 3.3 million cubic yards of material is expected to be used for the project, which started in August and is expected to be completed by May or June.

Johnson said the material coming from Ship Shoal is much better quality than the materials used on other projects because it stays put and builds up faster than muddier material, which tends to need more managing with containment levees.

“It’s kind of nice to be working with some good material,” he said with a smile.

Brad Miller, project manager with the state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, said that when the distance between the sediment source and where it needs to be placed gets to be 20 miles or more, it’s more cost-efficient to barge it.

“It’s a really good fit for a barrier island because it used to be a barrier island 8,000 years ago,” Miller said about Ship Shoal.

Graves said it’s more cost-effective to use dredges to move the material to shore instead of doing it all by pipeline because the sediment slurry can be moved only so far without the addition of one or more booster pumps. However, he said, as planning continues for other restoration projects, the hope is that the pipeline method will become more efficient and can be used more often. It’s not that pipelines haven’t been used to move sediment to build land in the past, he said, but the volumes of material and the distance they need to be transported are a challenge.

“There is massive volumes of material out there,” Graves said about Ship Shoal.

It’s estimated that there are about one billion cubic yards of material in that area, although only about 20 percent is currently available for restoration purposes because of restrictions on dredging around oil and gas infrastructure like pipelines.

Making pipelines more efficient, and possibly reworking some pipeline routes in the future, will help make more of that material readily available for restoration work.

The work is particularly important in the Barataria-Terrebonne basin, where there isn’t much access to river sediment, Graves said.

“The key to this area being restored and made resilient is long-distance conveyance (of sediment). It just is,” he said.