NEW ORLEANS, Jan 23 (Reuters) - Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco on Tuesday called for a congressional investigation into allegations the White House’s slow response to 2005’s Hurricane Katrina was driven by partisan politics.
A visibly angry Blanco called for the investigation just days after former Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown said the Bush administration wanted to humiliate the Democratic governor by seizing control of the state’s National Guard units in the days following Katrina, which killed 1,300 people and flooded 80 percent of New Orleans.
"What does that say to our people?" Blanco said. "They were trying to get at me, but they hurt our people. They were playing politics while our people were dying.
"This is evil, this is unfair, this is not right," Blanco said.
In a speech to graduate students at the Metropolitan College of New York on Friday, Brown said Bush advisers wanted to "rub (Blanco’s) nose" in the chaos that followed Katrina, according to a report in Tuesday’s New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper.
Brown told students the same officials opted not to federalize the emergency response in neighboring Mississippi because that state is led by a Republican Gov. Haley Barbour, a former chairman of the national Republican Party.
A White House spokesman referred questions to Donald Powell, the federal coordinator for Gulf Coast rebuilding.
"I am extremely disappointed by the governor’s comments," Powell said in a statement. "It’s now 18 months since Katrina hit, and continuing to focus on the immediate response, for which the president has acknowledged his responsibility, is unproductive and does absolutely nothing to help the people of Louisiana rebuild their lives."