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Landrieu, Cassidy spar over past LSU medical payments

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) is arguing Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) may have wrongly billed Louisiana State University while a member of Congress, but Cassidy is pushing back hard at what he says are bogus allegations.

Late Tuesday, a handful of local Louisiana political blogs released internal emails and school records they say call into question whether Cassidy remained on payroll as a congressman while not contributing at the school, wrongly logged hours at LSU while he was in Washington, and whether he maintained tenure when he didn’t meet the minimum requirements.

{mosads}“The documents speak for themselves and certainly raise serious questions that Congressman Cassidy will have to answer,” Landrieu spokesman Fabien Levy said in a statement.

“Congressman Cassidy may have taken home over $100,000 in taxpayer funds for work he never did. Most people don’t get paid enough for the work they do, let alone for the work they don’t do. But it seems Congressman Cassidy got a pat on the back and a check in the bank. Louisiana taxpayers deserve answers.”

The Landrieu campaign noted that some people at LSU have been arrested for falsifying time sheets.

In an interview with The Hill, Cassidy strongly refuted the allegations, and his campaign said it was a desperate attempt to stoke controversy by a candidate that trails badly in the polls.

“I told LSU if I’m not adding value, then terminate me,” Cassidy told The Hill. “I don’t want to reflect badly on the school.”

Cassidy is a doctor, and the House Ethics Committee approved his request to stay on with LSU as a clinical resident supervisor. He earned about $20,000 a year over about a five-year period for staying on.

Cassidy said he often worked at LSU in the mornings before flying into Washington for votes and oversaw the work being done by LSU residents in Washington.

A source close to the Landrieu campaign argued to The Hill that the congressman knowingly maintained his tenured status even though he didn’t meet the minimum level of requirements. Cassidy said it’s LSU’s decision to terminate tenure, and that “it’s not absolute” based on whether he’s meeting minimum requirements.

Cassidy took a leave of absence from LSU in April and hasn’t received any paychecks since then, but he still goes into the clinic and performs pro-bono work for the school by working with students on residency in Washington.

In addition, he says he added enormous value to the school before his leave of absence because he was the only liver specialist in the state. He said he’d oversee residents working on patients who came from miles around to seek care that isn’t available in other parts of Louisiana.

He told the story of one patient who benefitted from his work.

“He’s alive today in part because of the expertise I brought to the case, and you can’t imagine how good that makes me feel,” he said. “LSU has a mission to treat these kinds of complicated procedures to these medical students, and I’m the one who can do it.”

A source close to the Landrieu campaign pointed to other doctors dealing with internal organs on the LSU website as evidence Cassidy isn’t the only liver specialist on staff.

This story was updated at 7:22 p.m.

Tags 2016 Louisiana Senate race Bill Cassidy Louisiana Louisiana Senate Mary Landrieu Mary Landrieu

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