Monday, July 7, 2014

So, Who Paid $450k In CASH For Mike Yenni’s New House? (Hint: It Probably Wasn’t Mike Yenni)

During the recent Mayoral campaign, Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni repeatedly made attempts to contrast himself to me by stating that he was a “stakeholder” in Kenner and I was merely a “renter”.

While it’s true that I rent my house, and have since I moved to Kenner in 2001, I think living in Kenner for 13 years in the same location kinda shows that I’m a “stakeholder” too, unlike some well-known Kenner politicos who reside in a Henry Shane-owned apartment.

In debates, I tried to not make things personal with Yenni and didn’t want to point out that the house that he lived in was right next door to his mom’s house and given to him by his mother. I mean, why else would you live next door to your mom, right?

So, no, my mom didn’t give me a house in Chateau. In fact, my mom doesn’t live in Kenner – none of my relatives do. In 2001, I chose to live in Kenner, in my humble, rented Highway Park home and I still reside there. I guess that makes me a BAAAAD man.

Now, Mayor Yenni is on the move again. Again in Chateau but this time into an even bigger, more expensive house worth almost double the home that he has now.

According to public records, Yenni and his wife paid $450,000 CASH for another home in Chateau.

How could the Mayor pay $450k in cash for a new home? He couldn’t.

According to the Louisiana State Ethics Board’s Financial Disclosure forms, Yenni and his wife have no stock investments over $5,000; each owns 1 rental property (Yenni still has a mortgage on his rental in Mississippi – in his 2010 financial disclosure, he listed rental income of “less than $5,000”, recent disclosures have bumped that to the next tier, “$5,000-24,999”.);they have not disposed of the home that Yenni’s mom gave him, and they list no business assets.

Sure, Mayor Yenni makes good money from the City, $72,500 a year (although he won’t be getting the $35-40k raise that District 3 Councilman Keith Reynaud wanted him to get. BTW, Reynaud’s not getting a raise either.) and a little more for his stint as a “Public Affairs Officer” in the Naval Reserve. Yenni’s wife also works at the Country Club owned by her grandfather.

They could have saved $450,000 but, with a new baby and Yenni’s poor history with money, that is unlikely. I mean, if you’re spending over $100,000 from your campaign account (aka “Other People’s Money”) to enhance your lifestyle and pay for everything from Mardi Gras beads and dues, fancy restaurant meals ($1,461 in one night at Antoine’s. Really?), and gifts ($1,468 in Jewelry right before Valentine’s Day), chances are you’re a little cash poor.

I don’t know too many people, except for Yenni’s friend Ben Zahn, with the gall to charge $2.99 at Starbucks to his campaign account. But, that’s what our favorite Mayor did.  

Of course, Yenni also funneled over $10,000 from his campaign account back to the Chateau Golf and Country Club. It’s always good to give back to the “family” business.

So, where did the $450k come from?

Since it’s doubtful that Yenni’s mom, a retired schoolteacher, could come up with $450k in cash, could the money have come from another family member, perhaps a doting Grandfather-In-Law? It’s possible. If it did, that would be a very generous gift – but it would be a gift nonetheless, and it would require that taxes be paid on it as income.

But, if it was a gift, be upfront about it. Don’t act like you can afford an expensive home in Chateau on your Mayoral pay and what your Grandfather-In-Law pays your wife. 

Of course, Mayor Yenni could end the rumors by releasing his tax returns. Sorry, I didn't mean for you to laugh out loud at that one.

If it was a very generous gift from a family member, then the Yenni's should do the right thing and pay taxes on it. Yenni got away with that the first time. He won’t get away with it this time.

People are watching now Mikey.

When does the next campaign finance report come out?