Senate races

Landrieu demands Cassidy produce disputed LSU timesheets

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) is demanding Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) bring time sheets for work he performed at Louisiana State University to their Monday debate after allegations surfaced that he wrongly billed the school while a member of Congress.

Landrieu appeared briefly on a conference call with reporters Friday to call on Cassidy to bring 63 months of records to their debate “to explain this situation and put it to rest.”

{mosads}A spokesman for Cassidy said LSU would have to provide those records.

“Senator Landrieu is still failing to produce any evidence of her ludicrous claims,” the spokesman told The Hill in an email. “What proof is she offering from LSU, his supervisors, his students or anyone else that back up their claims?”

Late Tuesday, a handful of local Louisiana political blogs released 16 months of internal emails and school records that 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 took advantage of his situation to maintain tenure when he didn’t meet the minimum requirements.

On Friday, the Landrieu campaign went all in accusing Cassidy of deceiving taxpayers in Louisiana for personal financial gain and of  “lying to the media to cover it up.”

“He’s caught himself spinning his own web of lies over getting paid for work he didn’t do,” a campaign spokesman said on the call.

The spokesman said Cassidy has been hiding behind President Obama’s unpopularity and that “now we know he’s basically a fraud and defrauding taxpayers in this state.” The Landrieu campaign said Cassidy “lied to cover his own tracks multiple times” to “cover fraudulent activity.”

In a Wednesday email, the campaign noted that others have been arrested for submitting fraudulent time sheets.

Cassidy and his campaign are pushing back hard against the allegations, saying they’re a last ditch effort to reverse the tide of a campaign that has moved against the Louisiana Democrat. Public polls show Landrieu trails badly, and the runoff election is just over a week away.

“When people wake up…and read the paper an have been wondering who Bill Cassidy is and what he stands for and it turns out he’s a fraud, I think it will make a difference,” a Landrieu campaign spokesman said.

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, and additionally received medical liability compensation and costs associated with professional training. 

In a phone call with The Hill on Wednesday, Cassidy said he often worked at LSU in the mornings before flying into Washington for votes, and that he oversaw the work being done by LSU residents in Washington.

The Landrieu campaign shot back at this argument Friday by pointing to four hours of work Cassidy logged on the day of the government shut down, when lawmakers were voting all day and into the night.

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

The Landrieu campaign argued that Cassidy’s work dwindled well below the minimum requirements for maintaining his tenure in the year before his leave of absence.

Cassidy said it’s LSU’s decision to terminate tenure, and that “it’s not absolute” based on whether he’s meeting minimum requirements.

“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 also argued that he added enormous value to the school before his leave of absence because he was the only liver specialist in the state. But here too the Landrieu campaign pushed back, saying a quick Internet search produces a handful of other internal organs specialists in the state.

Saturday is the final day of early voting in Louisiana before the runoff election.

Dr. George Karam, a tenured professor at LSU who was Cassidy’s boss for 19 years at Earl K. Long hospital, strongly defended his colleague in an interview with The Hill.

He argued that Cassidy had myriad opportunities to leave for the private sector and earn significantly more money, that Cassidy had a rare liver expertise that few other doctors in the state could provide, and that the time sheets don’t fully reflect the work he performed as an outside consultant for the school or helping residents in training.

“We were privileged to have Bill Cassidy,” Karam said. “I think we got much more than we paid for with everything he did beyond the hours he logged on the time sheet.”

Karam stopped approving Cassidy’s time sheets in 2009, when the congressman’s agreement to stay on at LSU became a matter between himself and the school. But he said that Cassidy continued to serve as a mentor to residents and students in Washington looking to get into public policy. 

That work, he said, wouldn’t show up on a time sheet, and so Cassidy’s logged hours “significantly underestimate the role he played.”

“I did watch what he did and he taught students and residents I was responsible for and we got superb level of service because of the expertise he brought,” Karam said.

This psot was updated at 7:19 p.m.



Tags Bill Cassidy Mary Landrieu

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