La. senator donates entire salary to Bistineau

Courtesy Photo | Lake Bistineau Foundation President Pete Camp, left, and vice president Jeff Clark, right, accept a donation from Sen. Ryan Gatti, District 36. Gatti fulfilled a promise that he would donate his yearly salary from the legislature to the foundation to help clean up giant salvinia on Lake Bistineau.

Sen. Ryan Gatti, R-Bossier City, is helping make Lake Bistineau great again.
Gatti, who represents District 36, donated his yearly salary of $16,800 to the Lake Bistineau Foundation last month to aid in the recovery of the lake.

“Bistineau is an important part of the economy for the three parishes it serves,” Gatti said. “Back when I was campaigning for office, there were a lot of people out there who felt like they were forgotten. God put it on my heart and I really feel like this is an area I can help.”

Gatti knew from the very beginning that he wanted to forego a salary. However, he discovered that legislative pay is constitutional.

“If I didn’t take it, it would have been reabsorbed into the budget,” Gatti explained. “If I had to take it, I wanted it to go somewhere that it would make a difference.”

The LBF is made up of landowners around the lake and are focused on restoring Lake Bistineau, which has been battling the invasive aquatic water plant, giant salvinia, for years.

Pete Camp, LBF president, said Gatti has exceeded every promise he ever made, without question. Then, Gatti approached him last month during a fundraising campaign and said he wanted to donate his whole salary to them.

“He’s done everything we’ve ever asked of him, but we didn’t know he was going to do this,” Camp said. “[Ryan] is such a great person to know and he has been a ginormous help every time we needed him.”

Because of his donation, Camp said they were able to match it.

“We were thrilled with what he gave us, but it really motivated people to raise a lot more than what he donated,” Camp said. “There are a lot of people who are glad he’s doing what he’s doing.”

Gatti said he plans to give away his Senate salary every year. He hopes to one day see Lake Bistineau return to a beautiful attraction for northwest Louisiana.

“As people would talk to me about Bistineau, they would have that an emotional tie how it was for them growing up in the 70s and 80s,” Gatti said. “It was really hard not to be part of making it great again.”