Lorson denies the allegations. "We don't ban anything," he maintains. "We do, however, have a limited budget for advertising and a volunteer promotions staff with little time. That said, promoting our events in a publication that referred to us as 'Nazis' may not be the best solution for our promotional needs."
Under terms of the agreement forged between Mardi Gras Inc. and Alcohol and Tobacco Control, the nonprofit may accept $1,000 from each industry participant in addition to $400 in banner advertisements and $500 in point-of-sale material per brand.
In addition, any liquor-industry donations to the Mardi Gras Foundation must be spent on expenses such as security, sanitation and fencing and not transferred to Mardi Gras Inc. In years past the foundation has funded Mardi Gras Inc. with upwards of $75,000 to meet its budget shortfalls.
A final provision allows Alcohol and Tobacco Control full access to the financial records of Mardi Gras Inc. and the Mardi Gras Foundation. In addition to installing some twenty state liquor-control officers to work this year's festival, Lobdell says his agency will have auditors on hand to observe Mardi Gras Inc.'s financial transactions.
"Some of Mardi Gras Inc.'s past actions certainly were questionable," says Lobdell. "We don't want to shut down the event by casting aspersions on the nonprofit corporation that runs the event. At the same time, we need to make sure they comply with the law."