Three former Louisiana State Racing Commission members, including the ex-president of the New Orleans Fair Grounds, are facing state conflict of interest charges.
The Louisiana Board of Ethics has filed charges against Bryan Krantz, who still owns the land on which the Fair Grounds is located; Neal Cormier, of Lake Charles; and Paul Anthony Bourgeois, of Church Point, involving business they did with companies or individuals licensed or regulated by the commission while they served as members.
A legislative auditor’s report issued in May 2011 cited the potential conflicts by commissioners. The report said despite Ethics Board opinions issued in November 2008 banning certain business relationships, the three commissioners continued to serve while not resolving conflicts.
All commissioners serve at the pleasure of the governor.
The Ethics Board voted to file charges against the three in secret session on April 19. The charges were filed with the Ethics Adjudicatory Board on May 18, according to newly released documents.
“This will test the dynamics between the obvious necessity to have people on boards and commissions involved in the business on the one hand and the Ethics Board’s newfound perception of violations of the ethics code on the other hand,” Krantz’s attorney Gray Sexton said Monday.
Sexton said the contract the Ethics Board is questioning was in existence years before Krantz became a member of the racing commission, which the board has previously said “trumps any violation.”
Bourgeois’ attorney, Nicholas Bellard, said his client does not own enough of the business for the conflict of interest law to even be triggered. In addition, Bellard said, Bourgeois has not worked at the business which serves the general public for more than ten years.
The Ethics Board alleges that:
- Krantz “received a thing of economic value, in the form of lease payments, for services provided to or for Churchill Downs Louisiana Horseracing Company, LLC,” at a time when Churchill Downs operated an off-track betting and racetrack that was licensed and regulated by the racing commission. The lease payments were made to Family Racing Ventures for use of a building while Krantz was a commission member Aug. 1, 2008, through Dec. 2, 2010. Krantz owned 50 percent interest in Family Racing Ventures.
- Cormier, owner of NBC Stables Inc., “received things of economic value, in the form of lease payments, for the leasing of immovable property to or for racehorse trainers and racehorse owners,” at a time when those racehorse trainers and racehorse owners were licensed and regulated by the racing commission. The charges list 18 individuals who rented horse stable space from NBC Stables, a Lake Charles farm with stables and racehorse training facilities. The board said the activity occurred while Cormier served on the commission from Aug. 1, 2008, until June 29, 2011.
- Bourgeois’ company, Anthony’s Feed and Farm Supply, “routinely sold Mr. Keith Bourgeois horse supplies and feed” from Aug. 1, 2008, through June 29, 2011.
The board alleged that Bourgeois “received a thing of economic value for services provided to or for Mr. Keith Bourgeois,” at a time when Bourgeois was a licensed horse trainer in Louisiana, an operation or activity regulated by the racing commission.
Under state law, violations are subject to a maximum $10,000 fine and there is the potential additional assessment of one-and-a-half times the amount received.