". . . the scholarship records show
the widespread practice of awarding the waivers to the
children of judges."
How a Newspaper Uncovered the Secret Diversion of Taxpayer Money Into the Hands of Legislators and Judges
Scholarship Scandal Finale
New Orleans, October 15, 1995
After two years of disclosures about abuses of
legislative and mayoral scholarships to Tulane
University, we've become numb.
Each new disclosure seems to tar the names of more of
our elected officials.
Many have already been tarred - Republicans and
Democrats, conservatives and liberals, some who were
regarded as scrupulously honest and those whose past
records seemed slippery.
Now, after nearly two years of legal wrangling, The
Times-Picayune has obtained the remaining records of how
legislators and mayors granted their tuition waivers.
The latest harvest paints a disappointing picture of our
Disappointing because two mayors who worked hard for New
Orleans and ran well-regarded administrations, Moon
Landrieu and Dutch Morial, will see their reputations
diminished because they gave scholarships to a nephew
and a daughter.
Disappointing because so many lawmakers passed over more
needy recipients to give their waivers to their children
or members of their families or the children of other
public officials - benefitting people like Gov. Edwards'
pal and supporter, Edmund Reggie,
who sent seven relatives to Tulane with 34 years of scholarships
provided by eight different legislators.
And disappointing because the scholarship records show
the widespread practice of awarding the waivers to the
children of judges. Not just obscure judges in distant
parish courthouses. Among the beneficiaries of the
scholarships are the three children of the state Supreme
Court's chief justice, Pascal Calogero.
Mr. Calogero is one of four judges whose children
received waivers and who, without disclosing their
involvement in the program, went on to sit on the bench
while lawyers for The Times-Picayune pressed the
Let's briefly review the history of the case.
In 1993, the newspaper filed suit against five New
Orleans legislators arguing that they should be forced
to obtain their records from Tulane and release them to
the public. Tulane, as custodian of the records, had
promised to release them to lawmakers who asked.
Orleans Parish Civil District Judge Okla Jones ruled in
the newspaper's favor, but the lawmakers appealed.
The state 4th Circuit Court of Appeal agreed with the
newspaper and Judge Jones that the records were public,
but said the legislators did not have to obtain and
release any records they had not kept, in effect forcing
the newspaper to sue Tulane to get the documents.
The Supreme Court refused to hear the case, a setback
for the newspaper because it left in place the 4th
Circuit ruling. At that point, the courts had ruled that
the records were public but it was uncertain how the
public could get to see them.
The Times-Picayune sued Tulane twice. The university did
not oppose the newspaper but contended that it could
release the information only under court order because
of the student privacy protections of the Buckley
The first suit led to the July release of scholarship
nomination forms submitted by current legislators. Those
forms disclosed that one of the Supreme Court judges who
refused to hear the newspaper's appeal, James Dennis,
had a son who benefitted from a tuition waiver. (Justice
Dennis was confirmed as a federal judge last month with
the backing of Sens. John Breaux and J. Bennett
Johnston, both of whom benefitted from tuition waivers
awarded to their children.)
The second suit led to the disclosure this month of the
complete information in the university's possession on
the mayoral and legislative scholarship programs.
The information shows that Justice Calogero has three
sons who received waivers. It also shows that Philip
Ciaccio, one of the judges who handled the appeal of the
Jones ruling - and relieved the legislators of the order
that they get the forms and in turn make them public -
had a son who received a scholarship from former Mayor
The information also shows that a son of Civil District
Judge Gerald Fedoroff received a tuition waiver from
former Mayor Morial. Judge Fedoroff did not disclose
this at the time, but it can be said in his defense that
he ruled in favor of public disclosure, that the case he
handled involved only legislative rather than mayoral
scholarships and that as a duty judge, he simply entered
an uncontested order in a case assigned to another judge.
While laws on when judges should remove themselves from
cases may be vague, it seems a matter of elementary
common sense that a judge should recuse himself in a
public records case that affects disclosure of
information about the judge or his family. By sitting on
this case, the three appellate judges achieved no public
purpose. Their participation will diminish the people's
confidence in the integrity of the judiciary.
The release of the latest scholarship records would seem
to mark the final disclosure in this shabby affair.
At the urging of Tulane President Eamon Kelly, reforms
have been made, chief among them the requirement that
scholarship nominees henceforth be disclosed to the
But reforms won't be completely effective if the public
officials who grant the scholarships do not feel
compelled to ensure that all worthy constituents - not
just those with connections - have a shot at getting the
waivers. And that won't happen unless the voters demand
Copyright 1995, The Times-Picayune Publishing Corporation
From: The Times-Picayune, New Orleans, October 15, 1995. Section: METRO, Page: B-6 (Editorial). Reprinted in accordance with the "fair use" provision of Title 17 U.S.C. § 107 for a non-profit educational purpose.