BATON ROUGE (CNS)—It would seem that Jimmy Faircloth isn’t doing very well when representing the gret stet of Looziana in the various courtrooms around the state—either as an advocate of an unwinnable case on behalf of the state or as a candidate for the Louisiana Supreme Court.
Faircloth’s name has surfaced more often than bubbles in little Flatulent Filmore’s bath water, but always, it seems, on the losing end of the score.
The first time we heard the Louisiana Tech graduate’s name was when he was named in January of 2008 as Gov. Elect Bobby Jindal’s choice as his executive counsel.
Jindal’s pick was controversial from the get-go. Faircloth was still sticky from his three-year hitch as legal counsel for the Coushatta Indians, whom he advised to sink $30 million in a formerly bankrupt Israeli technology firm called MainNet for whom his brother Brandon was subsequently employed as vice president of sales.
It was not the first bad decision by the Coushatta Tribe. Three years earlier, they attracted undesired national attention when it was revealed that they had paid lobbyist Jack Abramoff $32 million to help promote and protect their gambling interests and got little in return.
Those same Coushattas also paid another $400,000 to Aubrey Temple of DeRidder, whom Jindal would later name to the Coastal Protection and Restoration Financing Corp. Temple was never able to account for the $400,000. Temple also was a key player in an attempt by another Jindal ally, Donald T. “Boysie” Bollinger of Lockport, to purchase Toledo Bend water from the Sabine River Authority for possible resale in Texas.
Okay, this is getting way too convoluted. Let’s get back to Alexandria attorney Faircloth.
Faircloth resigned as executive counsel in 2009 to run for the Louisiana Supreme Court. It was a race he lost by 53-47 percent.
Two years later he was fined $1,000 by the Louisiana Board of Ethics for violating state ethics laws when he entered into a contract to represent the Louisiana Tax Commission only six months after he resigned as Jindal’s executive counsel. State law required him to wait a full year before representing any state agency. He returned the $7,000 he had received in legal fees from the Tax Commission.
In December of 2010, Jindal appointed Faircloth to the University of Louisiana Board of Supervisors. In January of this year, Faircloth resigned and was replaced by his wife, Kelly.
The latest episode with Faircloth is yet another legal setback—this time at the hands of the First Circuit Court of Appeal which upheld a lower court decision that the LSU Board of Stupevisors must make public the names of the candidates for LSU president.
The Stupevisors withheld the names of all the candidates except the ultimate selection, F. King Alexander of California State University Long Beach and the Baton Rouge Advocate and the New Orleans Times-Picayune each filed suit to force the board to reveal the names of the three dozen candidates who were considered.
Faircloth, true to form and like his mentor Jindal, refused to admit defeat graciously. He described the matter before the appeals court as “not an appeal” but merely a question of what LSU owed in damages and legal fees. He added that LSU would “get its chance to appeal.”
Normally, only the losing party of a civil court matter would be required to pay damages and legal fees, so it’s somewhat confusing to understand where, exactly, Faircloth is drawing the line between winning and losing or what is and what is not an appeal.
Faircloth, if nothing else is a trooper and the matter lives on in the courts—and Faircloth’s meter keeps running.
Other cases in which Faircloth has gone down in flames include a federal case in Tangipahoa in which a U.S. District Court Judge in November of 2012 ordered a halt to implementation of Jindal’s new voucher and teacher hiring laws in Tangipahoa because the state laws conflict with court orders in decades-old desegregation cases in Tangipahoa and at least 30 other parishes.
“They (the plaintiffs) can’t even describe the standard or what programs are affected” by the desegregation order, Faircloth sniffed.
In March of this year, a Baton Rouge district court judge negated the teacher tenure and evaluations section of Gov. Jindal’s education reform.
Faircloth had no comments about that ruling but Jindal had plenty to say. “We expect to prevail in the state Supreme Court,” he said.
Two months later, in May, the Louisiana Supreme Court shot down the Jindal administration’s method of funding the statewide school voucher program, ruling that it diverted money from each student’s per-pupil allocation to cover the cost of private or parochial school tuition.
The very next month, the Supremes struck down a change to the state retirement system that had been pushed through the legislature by Jindal—because the measure had not been approved by the constitutionally-required two-thirds vote.
Ironically, State Rep. Kevin Pearson (R-Slidell), who sponsored the retirement changes in the 2012 legislature, was the same legislator who pushed for the constitutional amendment the previous year that required that any retirement plan which results in an actuarial cost to the state to be passed by a two-thirds vote.
So Faircloth must really feel bad about all those losses, right? After all, those TV lawyer ads say you pay nothing unless you win, right?
Nope and nope. Taking the second question first, those lawyer ads are for plaintiff attorneys who work on contingency. Defense attorneys like Faircloth get paid, win or lose.
That should take care of the first question; Faircloth gets paid, win or lose. And he certainly gets paid well.
LouisianaVoice made our customary public records request. On July 9, we asked the governor’s office, the Office of Risk Management (ORM) and the Division of Administration (DOA) for an accounting. The answer finally came on July 19, eight days late under the state’s public records laws.
There was a caveat with which we take issue: The response from DOA attorney Joshua Melder said, “Some information has been redacted pursuant to the Office of Risk Management’s pending claims privilege.”
The public records law, as we understand it, does protect matters of attorney-client privilege or details of ongoing litigation such as settlement negotiations. Attorney fees would not, as we interpret the law, be protected but we let it pass for now. After all, we don’t possess the knowledge of the great legal minds who protect the state’s interests so proficiently.
The figures for fiscal years 2012 and 2013, exclusive of the figures redacted pursuant to ORM’s pending claim privilege, show that the Faircloth Law Firm pulled down an eye-popping $931,000 in those losing causes–$843,300 of that in FY-2013.
Not a bad return on Faircloth’s $23,000 in campaign contributions to Jindal campaigns in 2003, 2006 and 2010.
Now if he would just win an occasional case, Jindal might be a little happier with his favorite attorney.