14 December 2007

heh heh heh ethics board bungles arnold & heaton case

in the 2006 first extraordinary legislative session, house bill 50 was a proposed constitutional amendment that would have lowered the amount of orleans parish assessors from seven to one.

the bill was killed on a 6-8 vote in the house ways and means committee. state representative's jeff arnold and alex heaton are on ways and means and voted to kill it.

at the time state representative arnold's father, tom arnold, was the algiers assessor and representative heaton's brother, henry heaton, was the 7th district assessor.
see did two leges violate the heh heh heh ethics law? by c.b. forgotston

obviously, any potential unethicalness was when rep's arnold and heaton voted on legislation that would affect their immediate family members.

instead louisiana state heh, heh, heh, ethics board bunglers filed charges not because of their vote, but because rep's arnold and heaton discussed the legislation.

we feel like this was the heh, heh, heh, ethics board's way of effectively appearing like they were concerned about ethics but at the same time sabotaging the charges against rep. arnold and heaton. whomever, on the heh, heh, heh, ethics board who filed and authorized these charges should be investigated themselves.

soon to be former state representative charlie dewitt informed us that representatives can say whatever they want on the house floor without fear of being personally sued - whether or not this privilege extends to the committee rooms we dont know, but rep's arnold and heaton in their suit against the heh, heh, heh ethics board argue that it does.

when the baton rouge advocates marsha schuler first wrote a story about this back in march 2007 we thought she had her facts backwards. lol.

in june of 2006 the house ways and means committee passed hb642 which was another bill to reduce the orleans assessors. this time rep's arnold and heaton didnt vote - in fact they left the room just prior to the vote being taken. despite rep. heaton claiming that he was in possession of an 11 may 2006 heh, heh, heh ethics board opinion that exonerated him for his original vote against hb50.

which brings us up to the present day and a times-picayune story


Ethics hearing waits for ruling
Charge focuses on N.O. assessor debate
Friday, December 14, 2007
Capital bureau

BATON ROUGE -- The Louisiana Board of Ethics postponed a public hearing Thursday into charges that a pair of New Orleans-area legislators violated state ethics laws by debating legislation that affected their relatives.

The hearing into allegations against Reps. Jeff Arnold, D-Algiers, and Alex Heaton, R-New Orleans, is on hold pending a decision by the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal on whether the ethics board has jurisdiction in the case.

The board's charges against Arnold and Heaton stem from the lawmakers' participation in a 2006 House debate on whether to consolidate New Orleans' seven elected property tax assessors into a single office.

Arnold's father and Heaton's brother are assessors. Louisiana's ethics code bars public servants from participating in transactions involving government entities in which members of their immediate family have a "substantial economic interest."

Attorneys for the lawmakers have argued that their participation is protected by the constitutional right to free speech, and that only the House has the authority to punish them.

The appeals court is scheduled to rule Jan. 9, House Clerk Alfred "Butch" Speer said.
only in louisiana!