Rainey not breaking ethics code with job, council duties

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 26, 2000

ERIK SANZENBACH / L’Observateur / January 26, 2000

RESERVE – The Louisiana Board of Ethics has given St. John the BaptistParish Councilman Lester Rainey Jr. Of District 1 a clean bill of health.Rainey’s employer, the St. John Parish School Board, wanted to make sure hewas not breaking any ethical codes by being a councilman and the sales and use tax auditor for the school board.

“We were just checking to see if there was any conflict of interest,” said Ann LaBorde, supervisor of Personnel Accountability for the board. “We have tolook at Mr. Rainey’s school board responsibilities and his duties as acouncilman.”The Board of Ethics’ report said, “The newly-elected councilman may not be involved in the decision to give the sales and use tax auditor a pay raise.” Inother words, he can’t vote to give himself a pay raise.

However, if Rainey has to vote on a matter that may be construed as a conflict of interest, he may do so only if “he files a disclosure statement with the Parish Council and with this Board of Ethics within three days of the vote which explains why, despite the fact that the code indicates a conflict of interest exists, he could vote in a manner that was fair, impartial and in the best interest of the public.”LaBorde said she is not satisfied with the Board of Ethics’ decision.

“The board painted a really gray picture,” LaBorde said. “They didn’t go into alot of detail.”The Board of Ethics doesn’t see this a real violation of the Ethics Code.

Carla Courtney, staff attorney for the Board of Ethics said, “The code doesn’t really deal with a person who holds two public positions. The codemainly deals with a person who holds a public office and also works in the private sector.”LaBorde has also sent a letter to the Louisiana Attorney General’s office to get Richard Ieyoub’s opinion.

“We just want to make sure everything is legal,” said Laborde. “We will wait tosee the attorney general’s opinion.”

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