BATON ROUGE — Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards spent about $1.1 million on his inauguration festivities and other transition expenses as he prepared to take office.
By law, Edwards was required to pay for transition and inauguration activities with private donations, not taxpayer funds, with a cap of $5,000 per donor. He had to disclose details about the donations and spending with the state ethics administration office.
The Advocate reports that Edwards documented raising $1.4 million to pay for his inauguration events and his transition office during the 51 days between Election Day and his entrance into office in January. He didn’t report spending the full amount.
For previous governors, costs varied. Republican Bobby Jindal reported raising about $1.4 million for his inauguration in 2008. Democrat Kathleen Blanco raised just over $1 million for her inauguration and transition in 2004.
Edwards’ inauguration day festivities at the State Capitol included the swearing-in ceremony, a 19-gun salute and a flyover from the Louisiana Air National Guard. An invitation-only ball was held at a Baton Rouge film studio that night.
The event planner was paid nearly $300,000. More than $20,000 was spent on decorations. Edwards spent more than $41,000 on invitations to his inaugural events. More than $40,000 went toward event supply rentals.
Other expenses outlined in the report include a $2,850 contribution to the West Point Cadet Choir, which performed at Edwards’ swearing-in ceremony; $12,736 for the choir’s travel costs; and a $96,560 payment to the National Guard for the flyover.
More than two-thirds of the 366 contributions came in at the maximum $5,000 level. Donations were secured from the days following the election through the end of February as legislators met in a special session.