Scholarship Controversy Grows
Capitol News Bureau June 17, 1993
The daughter of a $1 million lottery winner has been attending Tulane University for two years on a legislative scholarship and is slated to return to Tulane on the same scholarship next fall.
More revelations involving other Tulane scholarships also surfaced Wednesday in the continuing controversy over the way Louisiana lawmakers have handed out the tuition waivers.
Rep. Joe Salter, D-Florien, released records this week showing that Ginger Nichole Cathey of Many has been attending Tulane on his legislative scholarship since the fall of 1991.
Her mother, Judy, won $1 million in the Louisiana lottery's first "Super Draw" in August 1992.
Salter said Cathey was the only student in his legislative district to apply for the scholarship.
"We've only had three people from this district that I can think of who have gone to Tulane in the past 20 years. A lot of folks don't want to go to New Orleans to go to school," said Salter.
Ginger Cathey's father is Sabine Parish Assessor Conrad Cathey.
On Thursday, Conrad Cathey said he and his family have tried not to let their lottery winnings change them, but conceded that they have "caught a lot of jealousy" over the prize.
"Most people who win the lottery, within a year or two years, they're broke anyway and I'm proud to say we've never touched the money," Conrad Cathey said. "We put it away and we're living just like we were beforehand."
Conrad Cathey pointed out that the Tulane scholarships are not state revenue and that his daughter was apparently the only applicant in that area.
"If Ginger turned it in, what would happen to it?" Conrad Cathey said.
Also Wednesday, the Associated Press reported that Rep. Renee Gill Pratt, D-New Orleans, gave a scholarship to the son of Ted Jones, a prominent Louisiana lobbyist with offices in Baton Rouge and Washington.
Pratt said she gave the scholarship to Jones' son, Theodore W. Jones, at the request of Tulane officials.
Tulane University President Eamon Kelly denied the school asked her to give Jones the scholarship.
It is possible Pratt offered Jones the scholarship and he did not use it.
The elder Jones would not confirm or deny that he was involved in procuring a scholarship.
"What difference does it make what I say?" he told the Associated Press.
Sally Jones said her son attended Tulane for one year and is now at Vanderbilt University.
The Associated Press also reported that, in 1991, Rep. Ted Haik, D-New Iberia, gave a scholarship to Venetia Patout of Jeanerette and that campaign records show that, two weeks after Tulane classes began, Robert and Judith Patout donated $2,000 to Haik's re-election campaign.
Haik's office confirmed all are members of the same family but said the scholarship was not awarded in exchange for a contribution.
"These people have been contributing to me for years," he said.
Robert Patout told the Associated Press Wednesday "absolutely not" when asked if the scholarship and campaign contributions were the result of a deal with Haik.
"My daughter is an 'A' student and she graduated cum laude," Patout said. Patout acknowledged that he could have sent her to Tulane without the scholarship, but added, "it was a good help, naturally and she was an 'A' student."
Each member of the House and the Senate is allowed to award a tuition waiver currently worth about $17,000 to one Tulane student each year, under a 109-year-old law passed when Tulane converted from a public to a private university.
The public spotlight has focused on the scholarships in recent weeks after it came to light that New Orleans Mayor Sidney Barthelemy, who also has Tulane scholarships to award, had given one to his son.
Since then, four lawmakers have admitted giving their Tulane scholarships to their own children: Rep. James Donelon, R-Metairie; Rep. Steve Theriot, D-Marrero; Sen. Ken Hollis, R-Metairie; and Rep. Kernan "Skip" Hand, R-Kenner.
Several others have confessed to giving them to politically connected applicants.
Legislators have been asked for full disclosure on the disposition of their scholarships.
Before adjourning earlier this month, the House passed a resolution calling upon the House Executive Committee to recommend some guidelines for the scholarships by July 15.
In addition, the children of five of the nine members of Louisiana's congressional delegation have attended Tulane on legislative scholarships.
Included in that group is the daughter of U.S. Rep. Richard Baker, R-Baton Rouge, who is attending Tulane on a scholarship from Rep. Chuck McMains, R-Baton Rouge.
Other members of Congress whose children received political Tulane scholarships include Sen. J. Bennett Johnston, Sen. John Breaux, Rep. Jimmy Hayes and Bob Livingston.
Louisiana House Speaker John Alario and Senate President Sam Nunez met Wednesday with Kelly, the Tulane president, to devise a more open system of distributing the awards.
They decided that scholarships should be based on leadership qualities and financial need but did not agree on who will have final say.
"We're leaning very strongly toward letting Tulane decide for us," Nunez said.
Kelly said Friday Tulane is putting a hold on new scholarships by elected officials. He said Tulane wants the awards to be made on a competitive basis and adminstered by the university.
Copyright 1993, Capital City Press
Baton Rouge, La.
From: The Advocate, Baton Rouge, June 17, 1993, p. 1-A. Reprinted in accordance with the "fair use" provision of Title 17 U.S.C. § 107 for a non-profit educational purpose.