Prior to the start of the 2010 exhibition season of the New Orleans Saints, Budweiser sought to obtain exclusive rights to sell alcohol at Champions Square during the fast-approaching season. Budweiser made clear its willingness to remit a $300,000 payment to the State of Louisiana to obtain such an exclusivity agreement. The Commissioner of Alcohol Tobacco Control (ATC) at the time, Murphy Painter, refused to approve Champion Square’s liquor license with that stipulation because Louisiana law forbids such exclusivity agreements. Painter was then strong-armed by then-Gov. Bobby Jindal to issue the license, and he indicated that he would do so only if Jindal’s then-Chief Executive Counsel, Stephen Waguespack, would draft a letter instructing Painter to issue the license. Waguespack, clearly sensing the illegality of the exclusivity provision, declined to issue such a letter saying, “It would not be an efficient use of my time.”
Painter did not budge, so late in the evening on Tuesday, August 13, 2010, Jindal summoned Painter to his office and terminated him. Meanwhile Louisiana Office of Inspector General (OIG) Investigator Shane Evans and others were dispatched to ATC to attempt to find justification for Jindal’s action. Over three years later, OIG’s investigatory techniques were laid bare in an utterly laughable Federal trial (which prosecutors never dreamed would transpire going on the premise that Painter could not afford the $500,000 defense costs and would simply fold and accept a plea). Though none of the alleged counts in the 29-count indictment (that even survived for trial) were much more credible (see details at preceding link), Federal Judge James Brady openly asked if two of those counts, for which Painter was indicted for using an ATC address database to mail sympathy cards to two colleagues whose mother had just passed away, “rise to the level of a Federal offense?”
The end result was a quick acquittal of Painter on all charges, after which Louisiana taxpayers had to pay his $500,000 in legal fees. That doesn’t include the massive amount of wasted Federal taxpayer dollars (almost assuredly in excess of $1 million), the cost and man-hours of the OIG for its so-called “investigation,” the massive legal fees the State has incurred in defending the civil litigation Painter filed in 19th JDC for which yet another hearing is scheduled in early February, or any judgment that may ultimately ensue from Painter’s civil litigation.
So, because the OIG “takes referrals from the Governor” (see second block after clicking on “initiation” at this link) who technically cannot remove Street but who holds tremendous power over Louisiana legislators, who CAN remove Street, he is in no way, shape, or form “independent” from the Governor!
Around the same time Painter experienced his cram-through of corruption at Jindal’s hands, Corey delaHoussaye, on contract with Livingston Parish to assist with cleaning up massive documentation problems the parish had with the Army Corps of Engineers in the aftermath of Hurricane Gustav, was busy serving as an FBI informant to report $58 million in fraudulent claims to FEMA (especially noteworthy in the preceding link is FEMA attorney Linda Litke’s highlighted text entailing delaHoussaye’s role as a “confirmed FBI agent,” and referencing Street’s investigation of delaHoussaye as “reprehensible”).
Like Painter, delaHoussaye’s actions, which resulted in many irate contractors in Livingston Parish who weren’t paid for fraudulent invoices and who supported Jindal in 2007 and would be supporting him again in 2011, didn’t please Jindal. Consequently, Jindal again ordered Street’s Office to “investigate” delaHoussaye. Street didn’t let the fact that the OIG lacked jurisdiction to investigate a municipal agency because it is not a “covered” agency get in the way of an aggressive “investigation” of delaHoussaye. That “investigation” included a 5:00 a.m., guns-drawn, full-blown raid on his home during which 19 Terabytes of computer files and hard-copy personal tax returns were seized. The charge? An allegation that delaHoussaye may have cheated the State of Louisiana out of $6,000 (out of $2 million in invoiced charges) during which he was attending to personal business rather than actually working.
In addition to the lack of jurisdiction, also lost on Street, who, as a CPA, he should be cognizant of, was the fact that delaHoussaye never was an employee of the State of Louisiana but was instead an independent contractor. The difference simply cannot be over-emphasized because, as Street should know, if the “employer” lacks the ability to control when, where, and how an “employee” performs his work, he is deemed an independent contractor. What that means is that Livingston Parish (not the OIG) could investigate and charge delaHoussaye only if he did not work the number of hours he said he did! It’s irrelevant when he worked the hours as long as he DID work them. DelaHoussaye asserted that he worked more than the hours for which he billed and also argued that he had to camouflage the hours he reported as working in order to be able to meet with the FBI. That whole matter was rendered moot, however, when 21st JDC Judge Brenda Ricks suppressed all of the “evidence” against delaHoussaye because the OIG lacked the jurisdiction to obtain it in the first place!
With those two high-profile instances of Street readily demonstrating that he is in no way independent of the Governor’s Office and after Street provided an excellent lead-in to a question by Sound Off Louisiana founder Robert Burns entailing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Burns asked a simple question of Street at the January 30, 2017 meeting of the Baton Rouge Press Club which readily provided Street the opportunity to demonstrate that he is independent of the Governor’s Office. Let’s watch Street’s nonsensical answer, shall we?
IG Stephen Street provides completely nonsensical “answer” to question posed by Burns
Believing Street may just be flustered by a recent post of a major setback in Corey delaHoussaye’s own civil litigation against Street, Burns attempted to provide Street with a second opportunity to answer his concerns about Street’s Office’s independence from the Governor’s Office. Let’s watch Street’s flippant response, shall we?
Street, clearly uncomfortable with one-on-one questions from reporters, gets downright
flippant with Burns regarding his question on the organization chart of other IG offices
across the nation.
Well, you saw it folks, Street declared his office “independent,” so in his mind, it is so! Keep on telling yourself that, Inspector Street! Everyone can plainly see the reality is 180-degrees opposite and that you live in utter fear of being flushed by the Legislators upon pressure being applied on them from the Governor to fire you. After all, you know Jindal put extreme pressure on you to go after Painter and delaHoussaye, so why would you be exempt from such pressure being imposed by Legislators if you don’t “toe the line” and the Governor commands them to send you packing?
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