Meetings
 
Agenda Item
Docket No. 22-323
 
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RE:
A Request for an Advisory Opinion, submitted on behalf of Desire Line LLC, regarding whether the Louisiana Code of Governmental Ethics ("Code") would prohibit Desire Line LLC from entering into a contract with the Pontchartrain Levee District to provide grant management services.
Facts:
Alex Gelpi Carter, AICP was publicly employed with the Louisiana Office of Community Development ("OCD") from 2018 to September 2021 as a Resilience Program Manager responsible for providing planning and policy services in support of the launch of the Louisiana Watershed Initiative, a $1.2 billion Community Development Block Grant-Mitigation ("CDBG-MIT") program federally funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD"). Evelyn Campo, CFM was publicly employed with OCD from 2018 to September 2019 as a Resilience Analyst and then from September 2019 to July 2021 as a Resilience Specialist assigned to the Louisiana Watershed Initiative ("LWI"). Nicolette Jones was publicly employed with OCD from August 2019 to July 2021 as a Resilience Analyst and from July 2021 to January 2022 as a Resilience Specialist assigned to the Louisiana Watershed Initiative.



The Pontchartrain Levee District ("PLD") was awarded a $42 million infrastructure grant by OCD in March 2021. On September 17, 2021, PLD approved and entered into a cooperative endeavor agreement ("CEA") with OCD for the use of the HUD CDBG-MIT funds on the LWI Highway 22 Gapping Project ("Project"). The Project is described as follows:



LA Hwy 22 functions as a barrier impeding natural hydrology in the Amite River floodplain. The highway prevents the natural flow of water into the adjacent McElroy Swamp, increases surface elevation in the river and exacerbates area flood risk. The LA Hwy 22 Bridge Construction and Drainage Improvements project includes the construction of two bridge structures and the excavation of two drainage basins for the purpose of improving local hydrology, reducing area flood risk and restoring the McElroy Swamp.



Desire Line LLC, of which Alex Carter is President/CEO, has offered to perform work for PLD as part of a contract for grant management services for the Project. Evelyn Campo and Nicolette Jones are employees of Desire Line LLC.



During her employment in the Policy and Planning Division of OCD, Mrs. Carter did not participate in, initiate, or finalize the grant award by OCD to PLD in March 2021 or the preparation or execution of the CEA. Mrs. Carter's responsibilities were limited to designing, planning, and providing policy support within OCD's Policy and Planning Division for the successful launch of CDBG-MIT programs, not administrating or ensuring CDBG-MIT compliance for infrastructure grants post award. These responsibilities were separately addressed by OCD's Implementation Division. Ms. Campo and Ms. Jones both worked under the direct management of Mrs. Carter in these duties, but similarly were housed within the Policy and Planning Division of OCD. The designing, planning, and providing policy support work performed by Mrs. Carter, Ms. Campo, and Ms. Jones was directly geared towards the Program as a whole. Once their work on the Comprehensive Program Policies and Procedures was complete, they had no further involvement.

Law:
La. R.S. 42:1102(2)(a)(i) defines "agency" to mean a department, office, division, agency, commission, board, committee, or other organizational unit of a governmental entity. "Agency of the public servant" and "his agency" when used in reference to the agency of a public servant shall mean for public servants in the twenty principal departments of the executive branch of state government, the office in which such public servant carries out his primary responsibilities.



La. R.S. 42:1102(16) defines "person" to mean an individual or legal entity other than a governmental entity, or an agency thereof.



La. R.S. 42:1121(B) provides that no former public employee shall, for a period of two years following the termination of his public employment, assist another person, for compensation, in a transaction, or in an appearance in connection with a transaction in which such former public employee participated at any time during his public employment and involving the governmental entity by which he was formerly employed, or for a period of two years following the termination of his public employment, render, any service which such former public employee had rendered to the agency during the term of his public employment on a contractual basis, regardless of the parties to the contract, to, for, or on behalf of the agency with which he was formerly employed.



La. R.S. 42:1121(C) provides that no legal entity in which a former public servant is an officer, director, trustee, partner, or employee shall, for a period of two years following the termination of his public service, assist another person, for compensation, in a transaction, or in an appearance in connection with a transaction in which such public servant at any time participated during his public service and involving the agency by which he was formerly employed or in which he formerly held office.

Recommendations:
Adopt the proposed advisory opinion.
Assigned Attorney: LaToya Jordan
 
 
ATTACHMENTS:
Description:
2022-323 - AO request
2022-323 CDBG-MIT Comprehensive Program Policies and Procedures
2022-323 - Advisory Opinion Draft - July