“It is essential to the maintenance of a democratic society that public officials and employees perform the public business in a manner which serves to promote and maintain in the general citizenry a high level of confidence and trust in public officials, public employees, and governmental decisions. The attainment of this end is impaired when a public official or employee holds two or more public offices or public jobs which by their particular nature conflict with the duties and interests of each other. The attainment of a high level of confidence and trust by the general citizenry in public officials, employees, and governmental decisions is further impaired by the excessive accumulation of governmental power which may result from public officials or employees holding two or more public offices or public jobs.”* (Emphasis added.)
*[Louisiana R.S. 42:61 Part III. Dual Officeholding and Dual Employment]
“Except as otherwise provided by the Louisiana constitution, no person holding office or employment in one branch of the state government shall at the same time hold another office or employment in any other branch of the state government.”**
**[Louisiana R.S. 42:63(B) Prohibitions]
“The governor or his designee, when serving as a member of a state agency, commission, or other state entity in accordance with a provision of the constitution, laws, resolutions, or executive order of this state.”***
***[Louisiana R.S. 42:63(F. Exemptions)]
So there you have it. Scott Angelle, former Secretary of Natural Resources under Gov. Bobby Jindal who resigned when the heat got a little too intense over the issue of the ever-expanding Bayou Corne sinkhole in Assumption Parish to run for the Public Service Commission in hopes of becoming the fifth PSC member to use that office as a springboard to the governor’s office is able to serve concurrently as a member of the LSU Board of Stuporvisors by virtue of a generous loophole in the state law which allows Jindal to consolidate his power even more.
Why else would he leave a $129,000-a-year post for one that pays about a third of that—$45,000—other than the mounting pressure of the Bayou Corne sinkhole on his office?
Angelle was elected on Nov. 7, 2012 to succeed Jimmy Fields in representing the 3rd Congressional District. Exactly three months earlier, on Aug. 7, 2012, Jindal appointed Angelle to the LSU Board. If voters expected him to relinquish his LSU Board seat after joining the PSC, they were sadly mistaken.
Legally, he is fully within his rights; state law clearly makes exceptions for the simultaneous holding of part-time elective and appointive positions, a full-time elective and a part-time appointive or vice-versa in different agencies so long as they do not conflict.
In this case, both the LSU Board of Stuporvisors and the Public Service Commission offices are considered part time.
But apparently, that one obscure disclaimer about “the excessive accumulation of governmental power which may result from public officials or employees holding two or more public offices or public jobs” means little to this administration.
Jindal and Angelle can always claim (correctly) that the two part time positions he holds in state government do not conflict with each other. Even by employing the greatest scenario stretch imaginable, it is impossible to see an occasion where the two positions could conflict.
And Jindal and Angelle can always claim (again, correctly) that they are in full compliance with the dual officeholding/dual employment law. No one is arguing that point. The law, like the state’s ethics laws, is full of loopholes and exemptions.
But does that make it right? Not, in our opinion, when Jindal’s actions are compared to his self-serving utterances.
In the spirit of Jindal’s oft-expressed ad nauseam claim (in speeches in other states but never in Louisiana) of presiding over the most ethical administration in Louisiana history and of having the most transparent and accountable administration ever, one might think he would be loath to skirt the spirit of the law just for the sake of building onto his power base. One might even think he would go to great lengths to make sure there could be no questions as to his motives or his political ambitions. One might think he would insist that his administration be above reproach.
One would be wrong on all three counts.