A decade ago, Louisiana legislators passed a set of reforms dubbed the “Gold Standard” to rid the state of its reputation for political corruption. But the laws are riddled with loopholes that allow legislators to lawfully enrich themselves in office.
Ethics reforms championed by then-Gov. Bobby Jindal in 2008 have created loopholes that have greatly limited the power of the state’s Ethics Board to police lawmakers.
Jim Tucker, Troy Hebert and Nick Gautreaux are among 35 past lawmakers since 2010 who became lobbyists, agency heads, legislative influencers or state board appointees.
Widely supported legislation would have allowed Uber and Lyft to operate throughout Louisiana. But John Alario took steps to kill it, and colleagues point to his long-standing ties to a power broker who sells insurance to cab companies.
One lawmaker supported a bill that would help his brother, who owns truck stop casinos. Another, a lawyer who represents physicians, sponsored a bill that helps doctors under investigation by the state medical board.
The laws vary by state. In some, lawmakers are told to recuse themselves from votes that could create even the “appearance of impropriety.” In others, overlapping interests are seen as “almost inevitable.”
Legislators own everything from gas stations to nursing homes, yet they rarely recuse themselves on bills that directly affect them.
Louisiana Legislators Are Earning Big Money From Government Agencies — But Don’t Have to Disclose It All
One state senator earned $836,000 in legal fees representing a sheriff. The amount he disclosed: $13,328. “The notion that you could get public money and not report it in our flim-flammery of an ethics system is ridiculous,” an ethics expert says.