In covering the 2014 Shreveport mayoral campaign, KTBS has researched all candidates in an effort to inform our viewers. KTBS 3 has a responsibility to fact check and verify claims, especially of those running for our vote. In basic coverage of candidate Victoria Provenza, inconsistencies arose that gave us reason for concern that we felt deserved further research. Whileprofiling
Provenza, First News Anchor T.W. Starr asked her specific questions related to that experience, which led to two interviews.
The first, what was her business experience in Colorado.
“I ate bon bon's".
He asked Provenza one more time if that's what she wanted her answer to be and she said, “Okay I worked for the defense department and I have no comment." After asking if that was the final answer she said, "do you want me to go to jail if I told you what I did?"
Halfway through the interview, Provenza said she was frustrated based on information provided by a KTBS reporter prior to T.W's interview and asked for a 5 minute break.
After the break, he got another answer. "The most distinguishing factor between me and my opponents is my business experience. I am not a career politician or a bureaucrat. What I can bring to the city of Shreveport, as I've already demonstrated, by reaching out to other corporate entities. One of the biggest things that we need here is an infusion of cash and investment into our city."
But once again the answer provided no specific information about what her business background was and the question remained. We felt these questions needed to be answered more specifically so we requested another interview with Provenza, in hopes of getting more concrete details about the business experience she's run on.
Through an extensive, two hour interview with Ms. Provenza, we were able to gather and verify the following: She's the owner of proSpatial, a geospatial technology firm that sells, trains, and implements existing software; she specialized in business development at a company called "Leica" - that dealt with selling mapping software to colleges and universities; she at one time owned her own geology consulting firm, she's a certified teacher, who taught a computer business class at C.E. Byrd High School, and was a studio teacher on the set of "Bayou Billionaires."
We asked about the number of employees she oversaw throughout her career. “In my position in my company proSpatial, I have only had a total of two W2 employees. I have had up to about 30, 1099 employees,” says Provenza.
While she could be specific that she managed projects, she could not clearly point to budgets she directly managed, but she did share an example of when brought on to a project, she added value by finding ways to save money for the client.
Since returning to Shreveport from Colorado, Provenza says proSpatial did not pan out, and was put on hold, so she sought other opportunities—including teaching, and following her desire to run for mayor. “My primary focus of my return to Shreveport was with the advent of global strike command,” says Provenza, “was a small business partner to the cyber innovation center.” Since her campaign had provided CIC as a reference, we reached out to them. Cyber Innovation Center says she is not connected to CIC.
Along with her business background, Provenza has said multiple times of her connections with the business community across the country and globe, including during one of our forums. “I've already started talking to business leaders all over the United States that I've worked with and already have those relationships established to bring investment to Shreveport."
So today, we asked if she could share with us some of those relationships. She did provide three people at various companies. We asked for more examples of the types of industry that might bring to town and in what capacity she cultivated those relationships.
“They know who I am, I know who they are, do we call each other up all the time and have dinner? No, I mean some of them are friends, some of them no." She did say she would provide us with a list at a future time.
DEFENSE BACKGROUND - CLASSIFIED STATUS RESEARCHED
In her original interview with T.W. Starr, Provenza said she worked for the Department of Defense and had no further comment. Because of those comments, and because KTBS has previously been told by the candidate that her court records were likely sealed due to her and her former husband's security clearances, KTBS fact-checking staff called the Arapahoe County Clerk of Court to determine if the records were in fact sealed. The Court told us that they were not sealed, that most of that case was in the public domain and they knew of no special circumstances guarding the documents.
To determine if Ms. Provenza did indeed work for the Department of Defense, KTBS checked the Federal Procurement database to see if she or her company have done any contracting with the Federal Government, for any branch, and there are no instances of her or her company being a prime contractor at the Federal level.
But perhaps, as some supporters had been intimating, it was highly classified. So KTBS had the Defense Security Service look to see if her company, proSpatial, or Victoria Provenza as a consultant were cleared to do any classified work for the Department of Defense. According to Cindy McGovern, the public affairs officer for the Defense Security Services, who has over thirteen thousand companies cleared to do classified work for the department of defense, "neither Victoria Provenza, nor her company ProSpatial, are cleared by them to do classified business with the department of defense." So we emailed the Provenza campaign to ask if she would discuss security clearances in the remote chance that her affiliation was so highly classified that even the Defense Security Service didn't know about it. We were told by email that she would not discuss clearances, but that there were three contacts who could be a reference to assure us that she did very important work here locally.
One of those references, General Elder from Barksdale says, he knows of no classified work she does with Barksdale. His knowledge of her is that about 5 years ago, she was invited to two unclassified 2 day events. She was invited as an industry representative with proSpatial. He relates that she was an active participant and knowledgeable about her field.
Another reference, Craig Spohn said, "Cyber Innovation did provide her office space at BPCC while she was developing proSpatial, but Cyber Innovation is unaware of any business that materialized. She did not sell software to the Cyber Innovation Center and was not and is not connected to cyber innovation." So we had to ask her again to reconcile her former statements.
“Well I'm a huge fan of the department of defense and I've been involved in projects that did not require a clearance but I worked very closely with people who did carry very, very high security clearance...I've had background checks, I've been in a situation where I was married to someone who was on the succession plan to be the CEO of Lockheed Martin, that had me affiliated, that I am no longer affiliated.”
During our forum on October 28th, Ms. Provenza was asked some difficult questions about her past divorce and mental status referenced in court documents.
“I think that's a valid question and I'm glad you asked it. I had a traumatic brain injury I was significantly impaired. I had studies done on my brain that are all in the court records and they said I would never heal to a certain point where I would be able to even keep a job again. From 2003 moving forward I have done significant occupational therapy to be able to heal my brain and to be able to address those issues of the cognitive decline that were occurring over that time. So if you notice sometimes my brain works fairly quickly and my words don't always come out. So that is something I'm self conscious about when I speak in public and I've noticed it on forums and things like that. But it's like I said I still have a good brain, I have a good conscious and i truly believe it's a success story.”