By Bill Sumrall, The Light
Claims of a conflict of interest were outlined against Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy during Tuesday’s City Council Legal Committee meeting.
Alexandria City Councilmember Ed Larvadain, who chairs the committee, began by saying he’s conducting a fact-finding probe and outlined justification for his actions by citing sections of the city’s Home Rule Charter.
However, Councilmember Chuck Fowler claimed the action is a “kangaroo court” and questioned Larvadain’s application of the sections cited.
Most of Alexandria City Council’s committee time Tuesday, Dec. 1, was occupied by claims of a conflict of interest on the part of Mayor Jacques Roy in dealing with the city’s lawsuit against Cleco Corp.
The claims were detailed by Larry English, an attorney representing local attorney Bridget Brown, who was also involving at one point in the city’s lawsuit against Cleco Corp.
English acknowledged in a seven-page statement that he read aloud to the committee that he represents Brown, “who has filed suit against the city for recovery of legal fees in the CLECO matter.”
“I also want to acknowledge that Ms. Brown has filed a lawsuit against Mayor Jacques Roy and City Attorney Charles Johnson for tortuous interference of Contract and Defamation, again in the CLECO matter,” English stated.
Council President Myron Lawson swore in former City Attorney Kelvin Sanders and English were to testify separately before the committee chaired by Larvadain, who cross-examined both men.
“Mayor Roy as a private lawyer was intimately involved in the CLECO representation as legal Counsel to Sam Sansing and EMS,” English stated, identifying EMS and Sansing as “consultants who claim a share of any funds awarded through the CLECO litigation.”
“However, in November of 2007, Attorney Roy won a special election and was named Mayor of Alexandria,” English stated.
“I believe at the moment Mr. Roy was elected, he should have immediately resigned his representation of Sam Sansing and EMS,” English stated. “And moreover he should not have discussed the CLECO case in any form or fashion until after he had done so. He did neither,” English testified before the committee in his statement.
English stated that once Roy became mayor “he was required by the Rules of Professional Conduct to cease all representation of Sam Sansing and EMS.”
“Furthermore he was required to seek a written waiver from the Council before having any discussions about the CLECO case. He did neither,” English stated.
English claimed this was in “clear violation of the Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct” that governs attorneys.
English also claimed Roy violated the City Charter by having a financial interest in the outcome of the Cleco litigation.
Roy did not attend Tuesday’s City Council committee or regular session.
Kay Michiels, the city’s Chief Operating Officer/Director of Planning, gave the city administration’s response to the published City Council’s agenda in a document dated Nov. 25 as follows for the Legal Committee meeting Dec. 1:
“To continue fact finding probe in regards to the potential conflict with Mayor Roy in regards to EMS, LLC, Sam Sansing and David Pugh involving the case of City of Alexandria vs. Cleco and related cases,” Michiels stated in the response.
“This agenda item neither merits nor requires a response since no fact finding probe was authorized by the City Council pursuant to the Alexandria Home Rule Charter.”
English also presented affidavits from several people claiming Roy engineered Bridget Brown’s removal from the Cleco litigation after his election as mayor.
“The conduct of Mayor Roy along with the willing approval of the City Attorney (Chuck Johnson) brings into question the moral authority of the Mayor’s office itself,” English stated, by refusing to honor the Legal Committee’s subpoena of city employees and documents in its fact-finding probe.
“The mayor has stated that he has two ethic opinions that blessed his conduct. Rather than produce these alleged opinions, he attacks the President of the Council (Myron Lawson) as having an ethical problem also,” English stated.
English was referring to earlier questions raised in broadcast reports about the $70,000-plus costs of the City Council’s catered meals authorized by Lawson.
“These are not the actions of an elected official who had a momentary ethical lapse. These are the actions that show a clear pattern of abuse and contempt for the rules of the City Charter,” English stated in reference to Mayor Roy.
English ended his testimony before the committee by challenging the City Council about what they plan to do about the allegations.
“I warn each of you that the citizens are watching to see if in Alexandria everyone is beholding to the rule of law,” English stated.
Afterward, committee members Larvadain and Jonathan Goins voted over the objection of committee member Harry Silver in favor of Larvadain preparing a report to go before the full council.