Agenda Item
Docket No. 23-261
Request to clarify an advisory opinion issued by the Board at its June 2023 meeting as to whether the Code of Governmental Ethics ("Code") permits Leah Hood ("Ms. Hood") to obtain outside employment with the Louisiana Mental Health Association.
The Louisiana Legislature established the South Central Louisiana Human Services Authority ("Authority") through Act 449 of the 2006 Regular Session to provide administration, management, and operation of mental health, addictive disorders, and developmental disability services to the residents of Assumption, Lafourche, St. Charles, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Mary, and Terrebonne parishes. The mission of the Authority is to promote overall health within the general population by increasing public awareness and access for individuals with behavioral health and developmental disabilities to integrated primary care while promoting wellness, recovery and independence through education and the choice of a broad range of programmatic and community resources. The Authority operates a separate clinic in each parish, including Terrebonne Behavioral Health Center ("TBHC") in Houma.

Leah Hood has an independent contract with the Authority to provide peer support specialist services at TBHC. Generally, peer support services are designed to assist the client/member and the clinic to develop and maintain the best care for the client suffering from substance abuse or addiction. At this time, Ms. Hood only provides services to TBHC.

Ms. Hood is seeking outside employment with the Louisiana Mental Health Association ("Association"), a non-profit corporation in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which offers services for persons with, or at risk for, mental health and substance abuse issues. Ms. Hood has stated that she would be employed with the Association as a Certified Target Health Facilitator to teach a group of people suffering from substance abuse or addiction, on her own time, for ten weeks, on the material of the Target Health Whole Health Management Program, which focuses on the importance of building mental, physical, relational, and spiritual goals to enhance the addiction recovery process.

The Authority currently has a contract in place with the Association to provide an addiction Recovery Center in St. Mary Parish, with support and self-help services in the Authority's geographical area. TBHC does not have any contractual or business relationship with the Association. You ask whether Ms. Hood's potential employment with the Association presents a conflict of interest given her service to the Authority. Ms. Hood has expressed interest in referring Authority patients whom she treats to the Louisiana Mental Health Association.

Ms. Bonner is seeking clarification as to whether Ms. Hood can specifically refer patients to the Target Health Whole Management Program group that she teaches for the Association. Ms. Bonner asks whether Ms. Hood's referral of patients would violate the Code of Governmental Ethics.

The Board rendered an Opinion on June 2, 2023. Subsequently, Ms. Kristin Bonner requested a clarification of the opinion and provided additional information with an additional question.
La. R.S. 42:1111C(1)(a) provides that no public servant shall receive any thing of economic value for any service, the subject matter of which is devoted substantially to the responsibilities, programs, or operations of the agency of the public servant and in which the public servant has participated.

La. R.S. 42:1112A. No public servant, except as provided in R.S. 42:1120, shall participate in a transaction in which he has a personal substantial economic interest of which he may be reasonably expected to know involving the governmental entity.

La. R.S. 42:1112B. No public servant, except as provided in R.S. 42:1120, shall participate in a transaction involving the governmental entity in which, to his actual knowledge, any of the following persons has a substantial economic interest: (3) Any person of which he is an officer, director, trustee, partner, or employee.

Adopt the revised proposed advisory opinion.
Assigned Attorney: Mallory Guillot
2023-261 - AO
2023-261- Request to clarify opinion and analyze the application of 1112B(3) to the facts