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Think Tank 1210pm Should top donors be an elected officials

Sep 9, 2016|

Should top donors be an elected officials' campaign be banned from accepting contracts that pay out more than standard rates? That's what appears to be going on with Governor Edward's office and a group of private lawyers who were handpicked to handle almost half of the state's departments. Has this tarnished the Governor's promise to live and serve by the "honor code?" This hours guest: Melissa Landry - Executive Director, Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

And good afternoon welcome to our third and final hour of the Friday edition of the think tank. Oh with thinking about are pretty opinion poll which changes hourly. I should top donors to an elected officials campaign be banned from accepting state contract simple yes or no. We ask you cast your vote at WWL. Dot com in the race or bringing that up and thinking about that is. On the critics are now saying. What appears to be going on with governor Edwards office and a group of private lawyers who handpicked. To handle almost half of the state department's could be considered a conflict of interest. And in worst arms called cronyism of the buddy system. And it's been brought up that this now is tarnishing the governor's promise to live and served by what he called the article which is what he ran. On doing his campaign. And joining us to talk about this is Melissa Landry who authored a readers views opinion column in the advocate newspaper. She is also the executive director of the Louisiana lawsuit abuse watch out of Baton Rouge Melissa thanks for being with the assist you would like our audience to understand the perspective than our guest and speaking from shall tell us about Louisiana lawsuit abuse watch. Absolutely bought as they nonprofit nonpartisan organization based here in back admiration with supporters all across the states. And very employer maintenance simply to call out outlaws it peace Louisiana for the purpose sensed. Trying to improve the overall perception of Louisiana's. Civil justice system. Kids a couple of major issues that you brought out in your editorial about the governor Edwards and his attempt to put some political supporters to represent our state in litigation that might mean an enormous sum of money. And at this may be reflective of what was done in the past in fact he used. Against. James buddy Caldwell and sing in the when he was attorney generally kind of did the same thing could you explain to us what what you meant. Sure court documents that were uncovered by a joint investigation. Your your partner deputy LTV and advocate revealed that governor John pile up we're just quietly handing down no bid contracts to his top campaign supporters. Essentially giving them a huge states and coastal lost its second generate hundreds of millions of doll actually coffee. You know. Aren't given our mission content to serve as a week a lot stronger and work to to improve the overall. Our perception of police unit labor climate laws deeply concerned about these. Activities. You know it clearly. An ethical. Moral. And in potentially illegal on conflict of interest for. The governor and the but the individuals who are involved. The the governor's private litigation team is being spearheaded by. Lawyer and former legislate tore. Who also happens to serve as the chairman and the treasurer. Governor were to stick for pac we've seen in my first. So the issues that that we have with that scenario is if it's not that anyone who ever contribute to gubernatorial campaigns should have might be. Disqualified. From. Representing this state and litigation. What we're suggesting is that. You know individuals. Who are selected I'm cube represented state litigation should be. Selected based on the experience and their expertise not their political connections. And when you have. You know a team of lawyers that it's been a very large majority of whom have contributed to the it's significantly to the governor it creates the perception that those that were selected. Conserve our natural based on there. Based on their political connections and not not. Not on their experience and expertise and and and you know that's problematic. We will hopefully get David hammer Omar or quit over at WW television he's investigative report a very good one at that to come home but unfortunately he is on a plane at this time so we could join us. But in his. Article he he makes several Arab allegations of but you know Melissa why do we surprised that this. You know it's kind of always been to the Victor goes the spoils and in the case of a no bid contract. He is some Matthew block who is Thomas spokesperson said you know this is not cronyism this is not. Reward focal little political campaign contributions. He just knows them better and everybody will tell you this is a great bunch of environmental attorneys why are we surprised that he would give the contract and. Yet that this this argument. Bide by mr. blocked that the governor's executive. Council is precisely the same argument that was made by the former attorney general. By the Caldwell. I'm when he was asked to. Questions about the the that the system that cronyism and back from Q making flourished. Under his his time during in the Department of Justice. And I would suggest to you it was not about argument then and it certainly not that not me ballot argument now. This kind of a political patronage is as good Ole boy government. These these kind of backroom deal making that this is the activities that has how plastic back for generations and you know that the people the voters deserve better from their leaders. I'm Melissa stay with a gonna take a break here we come back now wanna talk about the expertise of these attorneys who have been selected by governor it was to represent the state and would could be. A huge huge lawsuit against some of the major oil companies with regard to our. I destruction of our Colston due to pipeline canals. And also bought tail at Townsend who was part of that about all they really the best environmental attorneys oral. Are they getting this contract because of political patronage when I guest is Melissa Landry. If you wanna text will take text comments at 87087. Zoo will be right back and listen to the Friday think tank on WW. And back on the Friday think tank Melissa Landry who is executive directive fall law which is via an acronym pull lawsuit abuse watch here in Louisiana out of Baton Rouge as with the city authored and a readers' views opinions into the advocate down by governor John edwards' attempt to hire some political supporters to represent the state in litigation that could possibly generate billions in legal fees. Melissa in David hammers article he points out you know. An argument to Matthew blocs saying these are some of the top environmental law is in the state and we need the best and the brightest are represented what could via. A major major settlement coming from some big oil companies would deep deep pockets. But according to his article he tale of Townsend who was I guess the lead attorney in this group. Is a personal injury and criminal defense lawyer what are the qualifications that would. Refute what he's saying is that this is not political payback this is more about getting the best we have to do the job. That's right currently contract that was authorized by the governor's office. Witten was with mr. Townsend as saying he's in essentially spearheading. Indeed done the litigation. I'm in bed finally it's not just that the contract in question is not just relative to the coastal lost six. The contract authorised by the governor's office. Proposes that mr. township represented not just the department of natural resources and dislocation but also. You know nearly half of all others to corrupt government agencies including the department of Wallach and fisheries division of administration. A division of revenues. We can occur to protection and restoration authority. And that accounts and also has faced separate. Contract with that state police commissions that. You know beat the unprecedented. Grass. Would be legal authority that has been outsourced. To. That one and private attorney. Is it shocking on its face and then when thinking specifically about the coastal lawsuits and and certainly that magnitude. Those seats to the potential that it has impact of Louisiana are decades if not generations. When collective activists accounts is not. On an environmental litigation attorney. You know in fact it's virtually no experience litigating these kinds of cases. Did it seems that you know his only connection to. That does is it. Governor John elaborate when he served in the legislature and it was very heavily involved in this campaign to big contributor and as a previously mentioned is now leading his deeper pack. You know that that is of great concern to us and I think it's say it is of great concern to the number of other people as well. There's a secondary issue you took up with them and that is on the method of payment according to what I read in and David hammers. Column on 225 dollars and now 250000. Dollars is Max is pretty standard for representing. The state but. They would be looking at. Possibly would would be an out of court settlement and it's called fee shifting way the either of the plaintiff and defendant level would be subject to pay in this case would actually be able to pay them more as an out of settlement kind of a deal on Dane seal Leno who was our regular go to radio attorney was quoted as saying that this is definitely illegal that the only has been legislation passed to prevent this and yet they tolerance saying no it's not illegal what what is the status on the. Absolutely perfect system and you know it is precisely. Correct under the proposed contract that covers legal team would be allowed to charge the state that hourly rates. Dean and in the event of any settlement quarter judgment they would also be allowed to negotiate additional fees for themselves. Two. The maximum amount. That this kind of feed shifting arrangement clearly. Violates the spirit and the letter of the reforms. That were just passed buying. This state legislature two years ago in response to the bite. It is. That that legislation essentially codified and longstanding. Supreme Court Kenyan. Authorities have contingency contracts by state department's. It was you know the the the Supreme Court opinion that's been units over a decade old. Where it already that law of the land. But the previous attorney general buddy Caldwell. Challenged that Supreme Court opinion by basically by writing loopholes into his contracts to create these fees shifting arrangement. The legislature responded. To his practice. By passing new reform legislation in 2014. That expressly prohibits this kind of activity and it is and is really and it's been deeply troubling. That we have seen. This new fees shifting language included. In in in that picked the contract currently services that was initiated an authorized by the cup. If you just joining us to a talk with the executive director of law the Louisiana lawsuit abuse watch director Melissa Landry. About opinion she wrote in the advocate newspaper with regard to governor Ed was pointing political lawyers to represent the state. This some troubling issues both ethically and legal arguments on this Melissa well who does this go to in order to to get the approval was this rests with the attorney general you have to given his blessing. Or perhaps the Supreme Court. Church will will let the governor's office. Whether it was and Emmitt and oversight or intentional. Action is is debatable but. The the the initial contract was was awarded or are authorized by the governor's office without. B button. And they circumvented state law by boarding official overview of the contract by the turn into. And so you know I receive the attorney general to issue with that. At this point he. Earlier this week. Sent a and a formal letter back to the governor's office rejecting the contract. Based on I'm not a number of issues of which speech. He's suggested that the fees shifting arrangement on including and a contract that would allow the attorneys could possibly allowed the attorneys to collect. Literally billions of dollars coffees is he described as illegal and unconstitutional. So I do suspect that we will. You know that this issue will. Well will be further discussed in you know in court and that and but. And you know let honestly is that governor's office. You know makes a conscious decision to. To review the law. That was passed by the legislature just a couple of years ago. And I mean it really actually the issue over and they beat defeat shifting arrangement could be corrected. Very simply by taking net provision of the contract out. And also you know the contacted the conflicted anxious claims could also be. Pretty easily resolved. By simply. You know. Drawing a big bright line between the governors on top political fund raiser. And you know the private litigation team and so the hope by. The efforts of the B Europe for today and and and certainly efforts to David hammer and an all the other news outlets that have helped to bring this information to light. That they will. It. They're responsive. And beat it by correcting affairs and respect. Melissa what we've got to get to news can you still they've about ten minutes longer. Very good will be back with Melissa Landry but right now it's time for news is Jim hands so with the latest. Now welcome back into the think tank Melissa Landry who is executive director of the Louisiana lawsuit abuse watch the acronym law. It's been kind enough to spend some time would listen extrapolate on. An article she wrote that appeared in the advocate with regard to governor Jon bill that would attempt to hire some top political support as a represent a state in litigation that could be worth billions of dollars in legal fees. Melissa have you had any conversations with attorney general Jeff Landry who was about it no relation to you by the way. About what his plans are to perhaps derail this from what the opposition this argues is that. It's really just a formality for the attorney general. To give his blessing to whoever it is that it would appoints on this no bid contract or does he have some way where he can derail the feast if he deems Aetna's. Sure now I haven't paddy conversations with the attorney general about it I mean I have you know I'm. Saw his his letter and read about in the paper that they waited that you have but. I do think that there is they. A legitimate. The difference and and and it more than a different opinions content sensitive legal. Argument. You know obviously there's different opinions between the attorney general and and and the governor's. Executive council about what the role at the attorney general is. From my knowledge as. These big concerns that we had about the previous. Attorney general. The the eighty's role in approving that legal contracts is that they have to make sure that the attorneys are. Qualified in the state you know they have long licenses in the haven't been disbarred. They sit they never get that a few things that they look at relative to those. Relatives Q. That they see authorizations they leave a contract for one it's one of those considerations. Is. Back to the method of a payment for her outside. Attorneys and and they involved in public litigation is you know. Recent. The so you know on the ground by I think it's certainly. It is reasonable for the attorney general to question. The legality. That he shifting provision included in. The that the contracts forward they did the proposed contract for the Packers like a team. And as far as your organization's role in this soul will easy and a lawsuit abuse watch. Do you see year old listed to simply point these things out to bring these issues to lie or. Would you actually be able to take some type of long legal action to prevent this from happening. Yeah our our role is to serve as a nonpartisan legal watchdog and that's what we do you we kept it very close by on. The awarding of state legal contract. You know that the media network as a part of our our our our mission deservedly but what struck we bring issues to light. You know when they need to be brought to light we were. The former attorney general by columns kept this very very busy with what policies his activities. And you know obviously this issue falls right within that that sounds. Right within that will house so. We will continue to units to monitor what happens with the with did you know with all that legal contracts not just that the team of lawyers involved in this case. Well mullah solar reserve the right to keep you on retain a so we can get you back to continue to follow up on this does that apocalypse. I'd never ever heard of by the way that's the best way to go and gamble are really. As Melissa landry's is executive director of Louise you know lawsuit abuse watch and if you want to. Sierra editorial go back into in and do the archives at the advocate also you can catch David Hammond story with regard. Two all I can say is from a man who ran on his military service providing an honor code. Kind of speaks volumes about whether that has been tarnished. Anyway will be right back I got a big special event taking place in this building when we broadcast from. It's called the 9/11 memorial stair climb in you can get involved we'll tell you how to do that. Coming back right after this time. Are walking back into. 400 point history it is called the N 9/11 morial stair climb open make contact with the on the barrel understand he met. I'm pretty exhaustive climb early this morning so maybe he's recuperating but will give him on as soon as he. Checks in with a in the meantime wanna go back to a text message board architects and we're talking about the governor. It was a net Edwin Edwards governor Jon bill Edwards against this moguls Freudian slips they call. Anyway I got this these coming in with. Comments on this is they've done is John Bell and was related to the Silva fox Edwin Edwards if he is maybe this would explain a few things. As far as I know I know he is not there's no relation. Here's another says maybe they should have voted for dinner he doesn't do all that kind of back room. Dealings. I detect a little facetious listen tournament. I is another that says this is how the system is run you always reward your friends win UK and you know that was kind of my first of thought me. Comment to Melissa Landry that while always surprises of this the way it goes to the Victor goes the spoils among the gives you a big huge campaign contribution. Shouldn't they you expect to repay. Just the way things have gone politically. Our question about should top donors to elected officials campaign be banned from excepting state contract let's see. One of viewers and of the website and our listeners of the radio program thing about that 91%. Said yes 9% said no. What would be wrong with that Melissa said we certainly would hate to disqualify someone from participating. In getting the contract simply because. They want good government and they're willing to put their money up to get someone they believe in in office but by the same token. Perception is reality and it appears to be a conflict of interest. I just coincidentally. How some of these people with a major campaign contributors. And up was some of the most lucrative no bid state contracts I would say within 91%. Even though this is unscientific. Four legislate tore got a hold of that and put it through with those kind of numbers just forget the past might beat. Pretty good. I'm here we go here's another on the line between former governor Edwin Edwards and John bill he is great at best John Bale is no different. It's good to be a governor's friend. Here's another one that says so why would I or anyone give thousands of dollars to politicians and last we had an alternative reason. To cash in on the future I or anyone would certainly make a contribution because we love the politicians. Just say. That's from text or 4058. Well and that seems to be the way. Our political system works in non unfortunately is the people in political office. Would have to make those changes. And here's another one Edwards last name comments about his name really is no connection direct between him and former governor Edmund was. It was last name says a lot about him and remember when you be reading these stakes islamists only in my opinion this is what the listeners zone commenting. He appointed Marty shop now a man that had to drop out of the senate race because of something with the gambling industry. And they had against team to lead the oil spill response team same old politics. Another says JBE is related to and sure about that I've never. On any. Connection them maybe a wrong someone's got some connection on how they are related how audit related. And here's another one. Good Friday Don nice shall thank you for the compliment. I have a hard time trusting many Democrats have a lovely weekend that is from Boston Bob you do the same body. And here's another one banning contract to contribute is would be a back door campaign. Finance reform now think console and look at that 91% of the respondents may be. Well legislate doors are you are out there listening and do you wanna write the bill that the the the Louisiana voters would would support wholeheartedly I think that might be 10 would be wrong. Where that. I'm sure there be some opposition unloved here I would take a breaks if we cannot. Find in Newton new Navarro to talk about this inaugural 9/11 morial stair climb if not tell you what I know about it coming back right after this almost. You're listening to the think tank Friday's style on WW. Iowa connected to the think tank got a few Texan won a clear out here are some good ones coming him. This one said. DX no way noted that his one here. Don can you name one politician on either side that has never and would never find a way to accept the contribution and return the favor even if we the people with successful. In getting one. To let us vote on. Two (%expletive) I think you. Probably correct in that they would find some way back door it is to get an accomplished. I the wanna tell you about this 9/11 more rustic climb going on right here at 400 pointers tower is taking place. Today there's going to be a brotherhood bash block party. With the local band float tribe headlining and that's following the climb. This action is taken place tomorrow September the tenth in the morning as some of them have been doing this today. In full fireman's gear we've got some New York firemen in the coming here we're now fifteen years after the collapse of the Twin Towers. On this their climb is gonna pay tribute to the 343. Firefighters. Seventy law enforcement offices. And nine emergency medical service technicians that made the ultimate sacrifice with their lives. Now exclusive to the New Orleans event in also honors and a 137. Louisiana veterans who have lost their lives since 9/11. I Jefferson Parish in wall in spite of fighters and police all first responders. Have committed to the inaugural climb in more are needed to register you can register. It's open for active firefighters law enforcement officers EM massive military. Our volunteers are needed an open anyone ages eighteen and up if you climb our volunteer you can register. At New Orleans stair climb dot com then proceeds of this event go to an organization called Louisiana. Heroes project is a nonprofit organization. That probably supports all Louisiana first responders and military veterans. And their family. Again this New Orleans there climb dot com. And hopefully we will. That you can find out more too about that brotherhood bash block party which is right next door at the at the Arcadia bar and restaurant which is right here near 400 point street so that's the first ever 9/11 memorial stair climb people. Callables the first annual and I have been told for a long time that there's no such thing as a first annual and ordered to be an annual. It has to have taken place at least one years you have the second annual in the correct terminology. Es inaugural which is what they call that Angel on the show. I'm here we go text message is coming at all this some typical fire finest on the stand climbed to and alma I've been told that that. It gear that there wearing is somewhere in the neighborhood of fifty to seventy pounds of weight. And now they're doing as many as a 13010. Floors on. Is pretty grueling understand it takes among hours voted again it. I'm here we go. If that allows the small print from your advertisers to be read laid back so fast it doesn't even sound like English there a condone lean. Hiding the small print for the general public. Not cool. You know private enterprise private advertises what they do private businesses. Hold different set rules and what do government has to abide by one and government Nazi skates and conceals and hides things from the public that's breaking a public trust. People have different opinions about prominent prize and they are allowed to operate under a completely and totally different set of rules. I we're getting close to the time the wrap it up there one in my Q and sixteen hours from now on will be back on five to seven the outdoor show blog a lot of stuff on. A lot of developments on the red snapper war controversy will comment update you on how that's going. We also have the opening of the Louisiana special September teal season. We gonna take you out some of the dock lines we hear from some of the people who are out there actually hunting which I will not anyone on the oversee you've it's cathedral broadcasting the program is I'm done for the last 28. Opening days of teal season. Dove season deer season squirrel season rabbit season duck season in all opens on Saturday folks and I gotta wait till the next day afternoon in fact Albion a dove field tomorrow on the hunt for those of you wanna come when this crane creek hunting. On day you might Google and they've got to hunt going on tomorrow gonna stop me afternoon around 1230 is so. You wanna come out there and get him on yes I will have a radio listening to L issue hopefully they can bounce back from that awful upset against Wisconsin last week. I get Friday night high school football saints this weekend going to be a great time and I'll see you next week right back Q&A think tank on WW.