Louisiana gubernatorial candidate Eddie Rispone held a fundraiser Wednesday with a charter-school advocate who participates in a scholarship program that allowed wealthy donors — including Rispone himself — to avoid paying taxes.
Arthur Dupre, the president of pro-charter group ACE Scholarships, was on the steering committee for the Republican’s fundraiser at a sushi restaurant in Lafayette, according to an invitation to the event obtained by the American Ledger.
ACE Scholarships was one of three organizations working with non-public schools in Louisiana’s Tuition Donation Rebate Program, which allowed donors to recoup at least 95 percent of their donations to non-public schools and write off the entire contribution on their tax bills.
In 2015, Rispone, a Republican, contributed $1 million to ACE, allowing him to recoup all but $50,000 and deducting $1 million from his taxable income, a savings of up to $396,000, based on that year’s tax rates.
Essentially, Rispone paid $50,000 to save $396,000.
The rebate program was a part of former Gov. Bobby Jindal’s voucher reforms in 2012 but ran into fiscal problems in 2017 when a major benefactor, First NBC Bank of New Orleans, was shut down by federal regulators. Soon after, the program changed from giving tax rebates to tax credits.
Several states have similar programs, but in Louisiana, donating to the program is more lucrative.
“Louisiana is the lone exception (in the nation) where credits can exceed tax liability,” The Bayou Brief reported.