How about some Friday morning Jefferson Parish political corruption

This is our Friday morning twofer in the target rich environment that is Jefferson Parish political corruption scandal. First up lets backtrack to December to highlight what has become the current MO of the rats on top of the public purse scattering like cockroaches when the light is shine upon them, in this case former Parish President Tim Coulon:

Tim Coulon, the former Jefferson Parish president now caught up in an insurance scandal, has resigned his seat on the Superdome Commission, Gov. Bobby Jindal’s office said.

“It is with deep regret that I tender my resignation in order to focus on other challenges I face,” Coulon wrote in a letter to Luke Letlow, the governor’s assistant on intergovernmental affairs.

Of course we now know the feds are looking at the Superdome Commission per our profile of Mr Coulon’s first employment stop after leaving office at the lobbying arm of the large law firm Adams and Reese. Evidently it didn’t take very long for the firm to understand they had a dog in Coulon who since moved on to the friendlier waters of the Jefferson Business Council as its executive director. It is from that position that he took a leave of absence yesterday as Times Picayune reporter Richard Rainey reports:

Amid a broadening political scandal in Jefferson Parish, former Parish President Tim Coulon took a temporary leave of absence Wednesday from his job as executive director of the Jefferson Business Council, Chairman Ric Smith said today.

“What this means is that until all this stuff that is being reported is finished and settled and he feels comfortable to return, he’s not going to be involved in our operations,” said Smith, chief executive of Metairie Bank. “I think the issue here is he’s concerned — and this was his call — he’s concerned that his very presence is distracting people from what the very mission of the JBC is.”

The business council is a private group of business owners who work on economic development and public policy.

Given the nature of the allegations against Coulon his association with business council has certainly raised some eyebrows among the good citizens there. The wagons look to be circling close to the hive and as Jefferson Business Council, Chairman Ric Smith makes clear they are standing by their man:

Smith said the business council will pay Coulon through January but that any future salary or stipend has yet to be discussed. Smith would not say how much the executive director position paid…………

“I will tell you that the members of the JBC have a huge respect for Tim Coulon and the knowledge he possesses and what he’s done for this parish,” Smith said.

That may be but the average Joe in Jefferson Parish is also wondering what Mr Coulon did for himself. That said Mr Coulon the insurance man is evidently well liked in banking circles. Besides Metairie Bank’s Ric Smith singing Mr Coulon’s praises to Richard Rainey the good folks at Omni Bank have Tim on their Board of Directors.

Up next is the Broussards and a pair of reports from Fox 8 that will help us roll out more of the players. Like the Jeffersons before them making a living from the public purse is a family affair as the spotlight is now being shined on Aaron Broussard’s ex-wife as Val Bracy reports:

A public records request made by FOX 8 News has prompted a parish investigation into the employment of Aaron Broussard’s ex-wife.

In August of 2003, a few months before Broussard began his first term as parish president, his soon-to-be wife, who worked for him during his term on the council, transferred over to the Parish Attorney’s Office.

A human resources document, signed by Parish Attorney Tom Wilkinson, shows that Karen Parker was hired into the newly created position of Paralegal Supervisor at a starting salary of $48,000.

Last month, FOX 8 asked the parish for Parker-Broussard’s resume and paralegal certification information.

According to a job description, the certification is a parish requirement for all paralegals.

But the parish doesn’t have one on file for Parker-Broussard. We didn’t get a resume either and the Human Resources department claims it has no personnel records relating to her 18 years of employment.

“The whole thing smacks of this was a position that was created for her because of her status as Aaron Broussard’s then-wife,” says Rafael Goyeneche of the Metropolitan Crime Commission.

Politics and the having well placed family members is a way of life among the political elites. Mr Broussard’s son Troy for instance is the “Director of central staff” at Louisiana’s 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Maybe I’m just a hayseed but has anyone heard of such a position or is it a glorified Broussard family public make work project?

Speaking of making work, Aaron Broussard and the judiciary, Fox 8’s Rob Masson has a report out that documents a few problems with certain business arrangements Aaron Broussard has with certain Jefferson Parish judges and it is with this report we rollout the trial lawyer connections in former Wendell Gauthier partners turned judges in Bob Murphy and Pat McCabe:

New details are emerging on the business relationships between former Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard and several judges who serve on the state bench in Gretna.

Broussard collected thousands of dollars, after being appointed legal representative in dozens of foreclosure cases.

For over thirty years, he served in elected office in Jefferson Parish, but as a lawyer, Broussard also took on outside work, as a curator for several judges in dozens of cases.

Judges have wide latitude in selecting lawyers to work as curators to represent an absentee property owner in a foreclosure hearing. It usually involves running ads to seek the property owner, and can earn a lawyer a standard fee of $475 each, plus costs.

The Metropolitan Crime Commission has found that Broussard got 300 curatorships over the last four years, generating around $150,000.

The commission found that three judges in particular doled out the most work to Broussard; Judge Glen Ansardi gave Broussard 30 curatorships last year, Judge Robert Murphy 17, and judge Patrick Mccabe, 15. The judicial code of ethics says a judge should exercise the power of appointment impartially on the basis of merit and he should avoid the appearance of impropriety.

Predictably these judges of men see nothing wrong with this arrangement but our main man Rafael begs to differ as the report makes clear.

The Broussard family story is still not complete however as we still have daughter in law Norma to profile. Stay tuned.


One thought on “How about some Friday morning Jefferson Parish political corruption”

  1. There was an old rumor that while mayor of Kenner in the aftermath of what is considered his “finest” moment in his political career – the Kenner airline crash disaster – he and his office directed inquiries towards Gauthier’s law firm. They go way, way back.

    Also, anyone notice how similar Coulon’s excuse is for leaving the Jeff Business Council to Broussard’s for up and quitting JP president’s post?: >”I think the issue here is he’s concerned — and this was his call — he’s concerned that his very presence is distracting people from what the very mission of the JBC is.”< Sounds almost word for word the same and just as unconvincing.

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