Sen. John Milkovich’s SB-260, which sailed through the Louisiana Senate 35-0, will go a long way toward cleaning up corruption on Louisiana occupational licensing Boards and Commissions.

 

 

Louisiana State Sen. John Milkovich (D-Shreveport).

 

Sound Off Louisiana subscribers will recall our feature wherein Louisiana dentists laid bare the rampant historical corruption of the Louisiana Dentistry Board (LDB).  As we mentioned, they did so in testifying in favor of SB-260 by Sen. John Milkovich (D-Shreveport).  The bill would allow a person who has a disciplinary action brought against him by a professional licensing board or commission to elect to have the matter moved to the Louisiana Division of Administrative Law for a disciplinary adjudication by an administrative law judge.

Though the LDB has historically exhibited the most corruption of any occupational licensing board in Louisiana, it by no means has a monopoly on such corruption.  As an example involving Sound Off Louisiana founder Robert Burns and the Louisiana Auctioneer Licensing Board (LALB), consider:

Burns was an LALB Member when Executive Assistant Sandy Edmonds was hired in August, 2009.  In making her presentation to the Board, Edmonds stated she’d “work from home and the office.”  This statement prompted Burns to inquire how much  time Edmonds would be in the office, to which Edmonds responded, “Oh, I’ll be in the office more than you can imagine.”  Burns has made a public records request for the August, 2009 audio tape to substantiate Ms. Edmonds’ response, but Ms. Edmonds stated that the tape had conveniently gone “missing” and that she continues to this day to be unable to locate it.  Imagine that!!

Contrary to her statement that she would “be in the office more than you can imagine,” the reality was that Edmonds was routinely letting office matters “slip through the cracks,” which, in one instance, cost auctioneer Dan Mahaney over $30,000 while her priorities were to claim she was on the clock while she:  1) visited Disneyworld for a week, 2) relaxed on the beach in Orange Beach in Alabama, 3) visited relatives in Kansas,  and 4) went sightseeing in New York.

Burns’ services on the LALB were terminated by Gov. Bobby Jindal on September 10, 2010 with Jindal providing no other explanation than, “things just aren’t working out.”  Nevertheless, Burns continued attending LALB meetings and videotaping them.  Edmonds continued with her shenanigans, so Burns drafted an email to three of the LALB members stating that he’d visited with the Legislative Auditor’s Office (as had fellow-auctioneer and then-current LALB member Rev. Freddie Lee Phillips), having done so upon the advice of Civil Service Chief of Accountability, Patrick Lowery, who stated that Edmonds’ actions, if substantiated, constituted, “blatant payroll fraud.” [Would seem like common sense, no?]

The three LALB members, in turn, sumbitted Burns’ email over to Convicted-Felon Attorney Larry S. Bankston, whom they’d hired specifically to “deal with Burns.”  Bankston, in turn, sent Burns a notice of an Administrative Hearing accussing him of issuing “false and misleading reports.”  Consequently, Burns hired an attorney, Robert Loren Kleinpeter.  Kleinpeter initially told Burns that it would be pointless to hire him because the LALB’s case was “totally unfounded and essentially nuts.”  Kleinpeter then stated, “The LALB would be utterly stupid to proceed with this, Robert.  I can get it stopped dead in its tracks with a mere letter.  Unfortunately, my minimum retainer is $2,000, and I don’t see you paying me $2,000 to draft a simple letter.”  Burns responded, “You don’t know these people like I do,” after which he began writing the check.

Kleinpeter consistently told Burns, “There’s no way in hell I’m going to permit your case to be heard by this crew.  I am going to file a motion to have the entire matter presented before an Administrative Law Judge.”  Unfortunately, Kleinpeter was unaware that there was (and is) no such provision within Louisiana’s statutes.  Consequently, on the day of the hearing, September 17, 2012, Burns showed up, and Kleinpeter informed Burns that he was in error about Burns having the right to have the matter transferred to an Administrative Law Judge.  Consequently, the following video provides highlights of the Kangaroo Court “hearing” entailing Burns’ so-called “false and misleading reports.”


Kangaroo Court “Hearing” of LALB entailing Burns’ so-called “false and misleading” reports on Edmonds’ payroll fraud, which the
Inspector General’s Office had NO CHOICE but to substantiate over a year after the above “hearing.”

Now, had Milkovich’s bill been law back in 2012, Kleinpeter could have invoked a right for Burns’ “hearing” to be conducted in front of an Administrative Law Judge, and the whole intimidation tactic of the LALB of “you keep quite on our corruption, or we’ll yank your auction license” would have been exposed.  Further, a disinterested party like an Administrative Law Judge would have recognized the effort for what it was and dismissed the matter forthwith (which, ironically, one of the LALB members said needed to happen on the above video).  Also, under Milkovich’s bill, the Board would have to cover the cost of the proceeding if it lost.  That’s going to get pretty expensive real fast when you’re a board or commission hell-bent on cramming rampant corruption down licensees’ throats the way the Dentistry Board has historically been.

Milkovich’s bill only solves half the problem.  Why?  Because the corrupt licensees of a profession will be more than happy to have their hearings conducted by corrupt cronies on an occupational licensing board.  Further, that’s assuming the matter even reaches a hearing stage because, more likely than not, the matter will be either dismissed by the agency’s “investigative” staff or else a stipulation agreement reached that doesn’t remotely match the way someone not in a licensing board “cartel Mafia” would be treated.  Nevertheless, Milkovich’s bill at least serves as a great mechanism for solving a problem such as the obvious corruption that the LALB succeeded in cramming down Burns’ throat or the Dentistry Board corruption we profiled on our prior post linked above.

As a final note, not only did Burns have to write that $2,000 check to Kleinpeter for the “letter that would stop this whole matter dead in its tracks,” but he ended up having to write him another check for $2,300 beyond the $2,000 “minimum retainer” for his services which culminated in the above Kangaroo Court “hearing.”

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