Ethics board takes no further action in Randolph victory

The Louisiana Board of Ethics decided in a meeting last week to take no action regarding the state Supreme Court’s decision last month to deny its request to review the Louisiana Court of Appeal 1st Circuit’s reversal in favor of Lafourche Parish President Charlotte Randolph.

The board could have asked the state Supreme Court for a re-hearing at last Thursday’s meeting but chose not to.

The decision by the ethics board means that the Aug. 21 reversal by the appeal’s court in favor of Randolph will be the final ruling in the matter.

The ethics board accused Randolph of violating an ethics law following the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill of 2010.

Randolph and her husband George Randolph collected $50,000 from June through October of 2010 from BP for the rental of their Grand Isle camp. In May of that year, BP provided Lafourche Parish Government $1 million to offset oil spill related costs to the public.

According to state ethics code, public servants may not receive anything of economic value from a person if the person has or is seeking to obtain contractual or other business or financial relationships with the public servant’s agency.

The Louisiana Ethics Adjudicatory Board ruled Charlotte Randolph violated that code because Lafourche Parish received $1 million from BP, an entity the parish was in a financial relationship with. The Board ruled Charlotte Randolph must forfeit the $50,000 she received in rent in addition to levying her a $5,000 fine.

However, Randolph appealed, and the Louisiana Court of Appeal 1st Circuit ruled that because it was explicitly stated in BP’s financial provision to Lafourche Parish that the $1 million payment was irrevocable and nonrefundable and the parish had full discretion as to how the money would be spent, the payment “comprised a one-time gratuitous donation that did not create a contractual, business or financial relationship between BP and the Parish,” the judges wrote in their ruling.

The reversal vacated a requirement for Charlotte Randolph to pay $55,000 in penalties and required the Louisiana Board of Ethics to pay all appeal costs – totaling $411.95.

In September, the Louisiana Board of Ethics approved a writ application to the Louisiana Supreme Court – an action asking the Court to review the ruling. The Supreme Court denied the writ application Nov. 21.

The Louisiana Board of Ethics provided no comment along with its decision to not to seek a re-hearing.

Charlotte Randolph