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Archive for the ‘Exemptions’ Category

No sooner had I posted a story earlier today lamenting the depth of political corruption and chicanery in Louisiana than up pops yet another story about which every single one of the state’s 4.5 million citizens should be irate.

While this is not a call for the pitchforks and torches, the citizenry should be up in arms over a letter to State Rep. Helena Moreno (D-New Orleans) from a New Orleans teacher named Gwendolyn V. Adams.

It’s a letter that should go viral because it hammers home once again the question of one of the best examples of political corruption in the state.

Legislator’s Tulane scholarships.

Tulane is one of the biggest tax scams going. Act 43 of the 1884 legislature obligated Tulane to give scholarship waivers to state legislators and to the mayor of New Orleans and they in turn select the recipients of the scholarships.

Altogether the 145 scholarships cost Tulane something on the order of $7 million per year, based on current tuition costs. https://admission.tulane.edu/sites/g/files/rdw771/f/LegislativeScholarshipFAQ.pdf

So, what did Tulane get in exchange for such a legislative requirement?

Tax exemptions. Specifically, property tax exemptions totaling about $25 million per year. https://louisianavoice.com/2013/10/22/deja-vu-all-over-again-house-clerk-butch-speer-denies-public-access-to-tulane-legislative-scholarship-records/

The scholarships are supposed to go to deserving students in legislators’ respective districts who otherwise might not be able to afford a college education. Instead, they quickly became a form of political patronage whereby family members, judges and political cronies shoved deserving students aside, taking the scholarships for their kids. http://www.tulanelink.com/tulanelink/scholarships_00a.htm

I first wrote about the issue way back in 1982 and it has been written about by numerous publications and reporters since but the abuse persists as legislators continue with their “in-your-face practices of doling out scholarships to family, friends and political hacks.

The story I wrote was about then-State Sen. Dan Richie awarding his scholarship to the relative of Rep. Bruce Lynn of Shreveport who gave his scholarship to Richie’s brother.

The practice has continued unabated ever since with scholarships going to recipients like family members of former Crowley Judge Edmund Reggie, who received some 34 years’ worth of Tulane scholarships valued at about $750,000, based on 1999 tuition rates. The son of former St. Tammany Parish District Attorney Walter Reed received a scholarship valued at about $172,000 over four years. http://www.tulanelink.com/tulanelink/scholarships_13a.htm

The latest to come to light is Rep. Moreno who, although she represents a district in Orleans Parish, awarded her scholarship to the son of her Jefferson Parish political consultant Greg Buisson, whose company, Buisson Creative, was paid nearly $14,000 by Moreno in 2010.

She is currently a candidate for New Orleans City Council at-large.

Here is Adams’s letter to Moreno:

Dear Rep. Morano (sic):  

I write to you as an educator for 27 years as a classroom teacher, 4.5 years as a professional development educator for teachers, and private tutor/LEAP tutor at  a local charter school, and express my profound disappointment in your decision to award $150,000 to the son of a Metairie-based political consultant on your payroll.  

For the years 2012-13, 2013-14, and 2014-15, you gave your Tulane University Legislative scholarship – worth over $150,000 in free tuition – to the son of your paid political consultant, Greg Buisson. Greg Buisson, a resident of Metairie, is a long time controversial fixture in Jefferson Parish politics.

According to the New Orleans Advocate (October 24, 2013), “State Rep. Helena Moreno, D-New Orleans, has awarded her scholarship for the last two years to Collin Buisson, son of Greg Buisson, a veteran political consultant who has been handling Moreno’s campaigns and communications since she quit television journalism and went into politics in 2008.”

Greg Buisson has been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees from his Jefferson Parish political connections and Buisson could certainly afford to pay his son’s Tulane tuition. For a number of years, Buisson has been on Moreno’s political payroll, earning thousands of dollars as her political consultant. In fact, I understand he ran your unsuccessful campaign for Congress in 2008. 

Rep. Moreno, are you now the Queen of Cronyism in regional politics? 

Further, the following article discusses your dismal record that includes awarding hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships to students outside of New Orleans.

Rep. Moreno, you do not deserve promotion to New Orleans City Council At-large. You’ve proven yourself to be disloyal to the thousands of hardworking families and deserving students in your own Legislative District 93 – qualified students from McDonough 35, Joseph S. Clark, St. Augustine and other schools in the district you are supposed to represent. You’ve passed over these students to award much more than $150,000 to your privileged political consultant – a Metairie, Jefferson Parish resident! It’s just beyond insulting!  

What is your excuse? Were these scholarship monies awarded to the family of your political consultant in lieu of payment for services that should have been recorded in the State of Louisiana Board of Ethics Campaign Finance Disclosure Forms? Is the only way to get your attention: pay for play?  

We don’t need this corruption in New Orleans city government.  

I cannot imagine you serving as New Orleans City Council President. Maybe the Jefferson Parish School Board? Do not reward political cronyism. 

Sincerely,

Gwendolyn V. Adams

 

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Title 44 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes is designed to guarantee citizens the right to examine copies of public documents at no cost and, if they wish, the right to purchase copies of documents at a “reasonable” cost, generally not to exceed 25 cents per page.

All that sounds well and good but for the unsuspecting activist or muckraker venturing off into these uncharted waters, there are undercurrents and unseen obstacles that can quickly throw you off course.

When perusing Title 44 and you scroll down to 44.4, you begin to see the subtle way lawmakers, in their infinite wisdom, managed to protect bureaucrats—and themselves—from the prying eyes of those who would hold them accountable.

R.S. 44.4 begins somewhat ominously in saying, “This Chapter shall not apply:”

There follows page upon page of exceptions.

We would expect information containing addresses, phone numbers, social security numbers, medical information, student information, pending litigation and proprietary information to be off limits. It’s easy enough, after all, for scammers to obtain that information for the purposes of identity theft, without opening the doors for them.

But we did not expect to see exempted:

  • All risk-based capital reports filed with the Department of Insurance;
  • Any documents concerning the fitness of any person to receive, or continue to hold, a license to practice medicine or midwifery;
  • Any documents concerning the fitness of any person to receive, or continue to hold, a license to practice as a registered nurse; however, any action taken by the Louisiana State Board of Nursing, and any legal grounds upon which such action is based, relative to the fitness of any person to receive, or continue to hold, a license to practice as a registered nurse shall be a public record;
  • Any documents concerning the fitness of any person to receive, or continue to hold, a license to practice as a dentist or as a dental hygienist; however, any final determination made by the Louisiana State Board of Dentistry, and any legal grounds upon which such action is based, relative to the fitness of any person to receive or continue to hold a license to practice as a dentist or a dental hygienist shall be a public record;
  • Any documents concerning the fitness of any person to receive, or continue to hold, a license to practice as a veterinarian; however, any final determination made by the Louisiana Board of Veterinary Medicine, and any legal grounds upon which such action is based, relative to the fitness of any person to receive or continue to hold a license to practice as a veterinarian shall be a public record;
  • Any documents concerning the fitness of any person to receive, or continue to hold, a license to practice as a chiropractic; however, any final determination made by the Louisiana Board of Chiropractic Examiners, and any legal grounds upon which such action is based, relative to the fitness of any person to receive or continue to hold a license to practice chiropractic shall be a public record;
  • Any documents concerning the fitness of any person to receive, or continue to hold, a license to practice social work; however, any final determination made by the Louisiana Board of Social Work Examiners, and any legal grounds upon which such action is based, relative to the fitness of any person to receive or continue to hold a license to practice social work shall be a public record;
  • Any documents concerning the fitness of any person to receive, or continue to hold, a license to practice as a medical psychologist; however, any final determination made by the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners, and any legal grounds upon which such action is based, relative to the fitness of any person to receive or continue to hold a license to practice as a psychologist shall be a public record;
  • Any documents concerning the fitness of any person to receive, or continue to hold, a license to practice as a practical nurse; however, any action taken by the Louisiana State Board of Practical Nurse Examiners, and any legal grounds upon which such action is based, relative to the fitness of any person to receive, or continue to hold, a license to practice as a practical nurse shall be a public record;
  • Any documents concerning the fitness of any person to receive, or continue to hold, a license to practice or assist in the practice of pharmacy; however, any action taken by the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy, and any legal grounds upon which such action is based, relative to the fitness of any person to receive, or continue to hold, a license to practice or assist in the practice of pharmacy shall be a public record;
  • Any documents concerning the fitness of any person to receive, or continue to hold, a license to practice optometry; However, any final determination made by the board after an adjudication hearing, other than by consent order, agreement, or other informal disposition shall be a public record.
  • Any records, writings, accounts, letters, letter books, photographs, actual working papers, or copies thereof, any of which is in the custody or control of any officer, employee, or agent of the Louisiana Cemetery Board and which pertains to an investigation of the business of a cemetery authority that is under investigation; however any such record shall be public record and subject to the provisions of this Chapter when introduced as evidence before an administrative or other judicial tribunal or when the investigation is complete.

You will notice that in the cases of the practice of medicine or midwifery, there is no provision to open records once any action is taken on a complaint. Those records are closed regardless of the outcome of any complaints lodged against a doctor of midwife.

As for the Department of Insurance, it would seem in the public’s interest that we be able to examine these risk-based capital reports. After all, quite a few Louisiana policyholders were left high and dry when companies have gone under in the past because someone obviously wasn’t minding the store. Risk-Based Capital is merely a method whereby the minimum amount of capital appropriate to support a company’s business operations is determined so as to protect it from insolvency.

Just as it is important to parse any public information request precisely as to the record you wish to examine because state agencies will not assist you by opening up their records carte blanche, it is also important to notice that the various boards’ complaint records are public if—and only if—formal action is taken. That means if there are scores of complaints against, say, a pharmacist or a dentist, or a nurse, you don’t get to see the complaints unless action is taken. So: no action, no public record. The door is closed. Please go away and don’t bother us.

Unless the complaint is against a cemetery authority. In such cases, the records become public at the moment they are introduced as evidence.

That can mean only one thing: The Cemetery Board has a weak lobby.

As for the rest of them and your right to know what’s going on, fuggedaboutit.

And if you persist, there is always the growing trend toward SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) actions which LouisianaVoice will be examining tomorrow.

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More information on Brant Thompson’s back-door waiver application for homicide investigator reveals that because he had no homicide investigator training, he was up against a deadline for the granting of the waiver that would allow him status as a lead homicide investigator.

The application he submitted, signed by his boss, State Fire Marshal Butch Browning, claimed Thompson had worked as a homicide lead investigator for more than 20 years and that he had worked more than 100 homicide investigations as either the lead investigator or as supervisor.

Both numbers are suspect in light of Thompson’s apparent lack of both training and certification in his past work experience with the attorney general’s office, six years at the Department of Revenue and his five years at the State Fire Marshal’s office—none of which involved his participation in any active homicide investigations.

The application instructed that applicants “attach a list of ALL training, dates, and locations relevant to homicide investigation training” and to “attach copies of the training certificates or documentation of attendance at these courses.”

LouisianaVoice then made a public records request to the Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement for copies of those certificates.

Bob Wertz, Law Enforcement Training Manager, replied by email, “There were no documents responsive to your second request. No training dates and/or locations were attached to the original waiver request for Mr. Thompson.

Wertz then referred LouisianaVoice to Act 152 of the 2015 legislative session which says, in part:

“…On and after January 1, 2017, only peace officers who successfully complete the homicide investigator training program or receive a waiver of compliance based on prior training or experience as a homicide investigator shall be assigned to lead investigations in homicide cases…” (Emphasis Wertz’s).

Wertz said all waivers are reviewed by the Homicide Curriculum Committee and that recommendations are made to the POST (Peace Officers Standards and Training) Council. The curriculum committee, comprised of board members of the Louisiana Homicide Investigations Association, advise the council and make recommendations regarding any waivers.

“While the POST Council issues a certificate for completion of the lead Homicide Investigator training course, no investigators are deemed ‘certified’ by the council,” he added.

Browning signed off on Thompson’s application on December 13, 2016, or just 18 days before the January 1 deadline, thereby conveying upon Thompson the status of lead homicide investigator even though he is apparently lacking in experience and training for the position.

In addition to Thompson, nine other State Fire Marshal employees received homicide waivers. They were:

Captains Chris Anderson, Keith Reed, Nicholas Heinen, Chad Robichaux and Brian Mashon and Senior Deputies Jason Johnston, Kristen de la Bretonne, Ronnie Sellers and Travis Goudeau.

In all but Anderson’s case, Browning, just as he had done for Thompson, signed the waiver request forms on December 13, 2016. He signed Anderson’s request form three weeks earlier, on November 23, 2017.

At least most of the nine were sufficiently creative as to not all claim 100 homicide investigations–except for de la Bretonne; she did claim 100 investigations, 35 of which she claims to have been the lead investigator. But she had worked Hurricane Katrina, including Lafon Nursing Facility of the Holy Family where there were 36 deaths and the St. Rita’s Nursing Home where 32 perished, according to one of her former co-workers. As for Goudeau, he apparently encountered a mini-crime wave in Bunkie where he previously worked as a patrolman for the city police department. He claimed four homicide investigations, serving as lead investigator on three.

Click here for HOMICIDE WAIVER REQUEST FORMS

The designations are apparently part of Browning’s grand scheme of cross-training whereby all employees are classified in all facets of the fire marshal’s office that in other states are separated as specific areas of expertise such as boiler inspections, amusement ride inspections, arson investigators, nursing home and hospital inspections, etc.

Browning was forced to rush the waiver requests through before the impending January 1, 2017, deadline because, apparently, none of the ten met the criteria that went into effect on that date.

The cross-training program has come under harsh criticism by those familiar with inspections and investigations who are either still active in or retired from the State Fire Marshal’s Office. Their primary concern that cross-training in each area of fire marshal operations weakens all disciplines and leaves the Fire Marshal’s Office prone to key mistakes that in turn leaves the office and the individual employees vulnerable to civil and criminal liability.

And while the example is extreme, the diffusion of responsibilities among all employees could conceivably create a repeat of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist fire in New York City in which 146 workers, mostly teenage women, either burned to death or plunged 80 feet to their deaths to escape the flames that engulfed the building.

News reporter William Shepherd, who just happened to be walking past the building when he noticed smoke, described a “more horrible sound than description can picture,” the impact of 62 speeding human bodies smacking into the sidewalk. “Thud-dead, thud-dead, thud-dead…” he would write for United Press as the only way he could describe the scene of broken, twisted bodies.

Investigators found that even though the Triangle building had passed fire codes prior to the fire, several doors in the building were either jammed shut or locked in order to ensure that the girls stayed at their jobs. Trapped in a building that had passed inspections, they were forced to choose death from the flames or by jumping.

Again, an extreme case but yet an example of what can happen when an amusement ride, a boiler or hot water heater, or a nursing home or hospital is given a once-over inspection by someone not properly trained as an amusement ride inspector, a boiler inspector, or a hospital/nursing home inspector.

And on top of all that, Browning wants those trained as fire code inspectors, ride inspectors and boiler inspectors to double as cops investigating homicides.

This is a situation that begs for the immediate attention of the governor’s office.

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LSP has manufactured its own loophole for denying public records requests.

Col. Mike Edmonson apparently has come to the conclusion if he makes the decision not to formally punish, the public has no right to know why. In other words, if someone is victimized by a member of the department of public safety and Edmonson deems it is not worthy of punishment, the public has no right to review the decision.

On the contrary, it would seem to us that when someone is exonerated, this is all the more reason to produce the information. LSP further claims when those who resign in lieu of the completion of an investigation the investigative report is not subject to release.

We think Edmonson is tired of the public’s learning of far too many instances of misconduct at LSP followed by a mindset of circling the wagons. He has initiated a pattern of issuing no punishment in an apparent effort to hide misconduct. The reason for not administering punishment is in the investigation file. Many of the investigation files from LSP have shown to be seriously biased in favor of some while very severe for others.

Typically, LSP has denied public records requests for investigation files when the department finds no wrongdoing stating. The standard response to requests for the information generally reads: “The investigative report you requested is not subject to release as the individual right to privacy afforded by Article 1 Section 5 of the Louisiana Constitution of 1974 outweighs the public’s right to review.”

We maintain the investigation file is a public document and serves a legitimate public interest.

The reference to Article 1 Section 5 of the LA Constitution is a mirror of the 4th Amendment of the US Constitution to protect citizens from unreasonable search and seizure. The amendment specifically lists, “person, property, communications, houses, papers, and effects.” We have no access to those nor does LSP without a properly issued warrant as the amendment states. If it is illegal for us to access, it is also illegal for LSP to have obtained it.

We have accumulated a growing list of denials based on this fantasyland God-like authority bestowed upon himself by himself (Edmonson).

Captain Chris Guillory

LouisianaVoice has received a response to a complaint filed against Captain Chris Guillory for lying to LSP internal affairs investigators. A citizen said that Guillory refused to accept his complaint against a State Trooper in Troop D. The response to the complaint from LSP states in part, “A determination has been made that Captain Guillory did not make a false statement to IA” with his denial that he refused to accept the complaint. The complainant provided an audio tape directly contradicting two documented statements made by Guillory to LSP internal affairs. You can review it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zd-JV3rKjko.

LSP will not release the investigation file because Edmonson did not punish his friend Guillory. The public is denied the right to know why Guillory was not found in violation. We have the tape and we have the LSP documentation listing Guillory’s statement two times denying unequivocally he refused to take the complaint.

LSP has found no wrongdoing by Guillory involving the recently terminated Trooper Ronald Picou even though he was responsible for the investigation of the exact same allegations in 2013, the “Brady Day” investigation, or the investigation involving the padding of time sheets by Brady. He has emerged without any formal discipline.

Guillory has since been removed from his command at Troop D. He has been given a larger command in Baton Rouge. Sources have informed us Guillory’s new position is in violation of state police commission rules on residency because he lives in Sulphur but works in Baton Rouge. Sources further report Troopers are authorized three hours one way for travel to Baton Rouge. That means Guillory works two hours out of every eight hour day.

LT Paul Brady

We requested the documentation involving the investigation into “Brady Days,” paid time off for arresting someone for DWI in violation of quota and payroll fraud laws—so named the Troop D supervisor who allowed, indeed, encouraged the practice. Sources indicate Brady days was an unwritten policy at Troop D under some supervisors and this was confirmed by IA investigators. We were informed there was no finding of wrongdoing on Brady’s part. But again, we were denied access to any investigation findings.

Brady was cleared even though he was the supervisor for Trooper Picou who was recently terminated. Picou was proven to be neglectful of duty. Brady was paid to be a supervisor and sources say if he would have simply done his job Picou might still have his.

But again, because there was no disciplinary action taken against Brady, the investigation record remains out of the public’s reach.

A recent complaint has been filed against Troop D personnel alleging a wrongful DWI arrest. Sources say the arresting Trooper was a beneficiary of paid time off for Brady days but was also punished for not accumulating a sufficient number of DWI arrests.

Trooper Jimmy Rogers

Rogers suddenly resigned amid the beginning of the massive investigations at Troop D. We were denied access to his records because LSP did not complete the investigation. This is another method of Edmonson escaping culpability for poor leadership—ask them to resign so no one finds out. Sources report Rogers resigned after it was discovered he was committing payroll fraud on parish-funded overtime details known as Local Agency Compensated Enforcement (LACE). Rogers was reportedly issuing citations on his regular shift but claiming them on different dates in order to accrue overtime.

Accepting excess money for violating state issued permit/bribery

We requested the investigation files involving a Trooper who accepted extra money for moving oversized loads in violation of the state issued permit and possibly bribery. It was discovered after another Trooper refused the extra payment. The response was to make the Trooper give the extra money back. We were notified no complaint was filed so they did not investigate it.

In a letter from LSP dated April 27, 2016, we were again notified no complaint was filed. All of our other requests resulted in the investigation of the allegations but they skipped this one. The excuse that they do not investigate misconduct until someone files a complaint is silly. A complaint has since been lodged with LSP so maybe they will finally investigate.

We are not done

The failure to release records at the discretion of one man with a proven track record of unethical behavior and poor decision making should not be allowed to stand. The public has a right to know about the circumstances surrounding a resignation in lieu of termination amid an investigation.

They further have a right to know why a public employee was found to have committed no wrongdoing—if for no other reason than to fully clear the employee’s name and his public standing. There is no reason to hide such information unless indeed, there is something to hide.

LouisianaVoice is exploring legal remedies for these denials.

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While Bobby Jindal is touting all the wonderful innovations, budget cuts, employee reductions, etc., that he has initiated in Louisiana, The Center for Public Integrity has a few items he may wish to soft peddle as he goes about trying to convince Iowans that he’s really serious about running for President and not the joke we in Louisiana know him to be.

The center has just released its 2015 integrity grades for each state and it isn’t very pretty for Louisiana.

In fact, the state received a flat-out grade of F and ranked 41st out of the 50 states overall with a composite score of 59 out of a possible 100. Only seven states had lower composite scores—Pennsylvania and Oregon (58), Nevada (57), Delaware and South Dakota (56), and Michigan and Wyoming (51).

Mississippi (61) and Alabama (67), normally found competing for Louisiana on lists of all things bad, were well ahead of Louisiana with rankings of 33rd and 7th, respectively. Alaska had the highest score at 71, good enough for a C. Michigan was the worst with its 51.

Louisiana wasn’t alone in getting a failing grade of course; there were 10 others but in the other states we can only assume the governors are at least attempting to address their problems. Jindal isn’t. He capitulated long ago as he set out on his quest for the brass ring that continues—and will continue—to elude him. Though he has only two months to go in office, he in reality abandoned us three years and 10 months ago—right after he was inaugurated for his second term. Truth be told, he has been at best a distracted administrator (I still can’t bring myself to call him a governor) for his full eight years and at worst, guilty of malfeasance in his dereliction of duty.

Harsh words, to be sure, but then his record screams out his shortcomings (loud enough to be heard in Iowa, one would think) and his lack of a basic understanding of running a lemonade stand, much less a state.

States were graded on 13 criteria by the Center for Public Integrity:

  • Public Access to Information—F
  • Political Financing—D
  • Electoral Oversight—D+
  • Executive Accountability—F
  • Legislative Accountability—F
  • Judicial Accountability—F
  • State Budget Processes—D+
  • State Civil Service Management—F
  • Procurement—D+
  • Internal Auditing—C+
  • Lobbying Disclosure—D
  • Ethics Enforcement Agencies—F
  • State Pension Fund Management—F

http://www.publicintegrity.org/2015/11/09/18407/louisiana-gets-f-grade-2015-state-integrity-investigation?utm_campaign=stateintegrity&utm_source=digest&utm_medium=link&goal=0_ffd1d0160d-08c0be5058-100352837&mc_cid=08c0be5058&mc_eid=c4ee01d834

The scores given each of these, and their national ranking were even more revealing.

Public Access to Information, for example scored a dismal 30, ranking 46th in the country.

In the scoring for Internal Auditing, on the other hand, the state’s numerical score was 79, but was good enough for only a ranking of 32nd.

Likewise, the grading for Procurement (purchase of goods and contracts) had a numeric score of 69, good enough to rank the state 25th. But numeric score of 64 for Lobbying Disclosure while rating only a D, was still good enough to nudge the state into the upper half of the rankings at 24th.

One of the biggest areas of concern would have to be the state’s numeric grade of only 40 for Judicial Accountability, plunging the state to next to last at 49th. (This is an area that has flown under the radar but one the legislature and next governor should address.)

The lowest numeric score was 30 for Public Access to Information, fifth from the bottom at 46th. LouisianaVoice can certainly attest to the difficulty in obtaining public records, having found it necessary to file lawsuit against the state on three occasions in order to obtain what were clearly public records. Even after winning two of the three lawsuits, we still experience intolerable foot-dragging as agencies attempt to stall in the hopes we will give up.

We will not. If anything, the stalling only strengthens our resolve to fight for the public’s right to know.

To compare Louisiana to other states in each of the 13 criteria, go here: http://www.publicintegrity.org/2015/11/09/18822/how-does-your-state-rank-integrity

In the final days of the 2015 legislative session the state Senate approved a bill that removed the exemptions pushed through by Jindal in his first month in office in 2008 which kept most government records from disclosure. State Sen. Dan Claitor (R-Baton Rouge) was quoted in the report as saying, “It turns out we were boondoggled on that.”

Jindal called his changes his “gold standard,” but the report said it is “riddled with loopholes and cynical interpretations by the governor and other state officials.”

That looked like a promising reversal to the secrecy of the Jindal administration but then the legislature agreed to postpone implementation of the new law that abolished the abused “deliberative process” exception until after Jindal leaves office next January.

Jindal also managed to gut the state’s ethics laws early in his first year. Enforcement of ethics violations was removed from the State Ethics Board and transferred to judges selected by a Jindal appointee. That prompted long-time political consultant Elliott Stonecipher of Shreveport to say that while the state’s ethics laws looked good on the surface, there was “no effective enforcement and that breeds more than just a system of corruption, but an acceptance of those practices,” the center’s report said.

The center reported that it is not Louisiana’s ethics laws that produced such a poor grade, but the day-to-day interpretations of the laws by various departmental legal advisors.

Since the center’s first survey of public integrity on a state-by-state basis, no fewer than 12 states have had legislators or cabinet-level officials charged, convicted or resign over ethics-related issues, the report said.

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