Official to appeal ethics ruling

THIBODAUX — State Ethics officials will not rehear arguments about ethics charges against Lafourche Parish President Charlotte Randolph, but they did reduce her fine.

Randolph said she is now preparing to take her challenge to court.

Earlier this year, the state Ethics Board ruled Randolph must repay $50,000 she received from renting her camp to BP in addition to a $10,000 fine for violating laws that prohibit a public servant such as her from receiving any financial benefit from entities either seeking a contract or having a contract with the parish government.

At the time Randolph rented her Grand Isle camp to BP, the parish was in contract with the oil giant to receive money used to respond to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil leak.

Attorneys for Randolph challenged that ruling, arguing Randolph deserved a second hearing in front of the three-person ethics adjudicatory panel that handed down the ruling.

In a five-page opinion, the panel rejected Randolph’s bid for a rehearing but reduced the penalty by $5,000.

Randolph’s primary argument was that the contract with BP was in effect a donation.

Her attorneys argued because the $1 million Lafourche received through the agreement was nonrefundable, the contract was over once the money was given — before Randolph rented her camp.

In rejecting her plea, the board said because the agreement with BP stipulated the parish must provide annual reports on how the money was spent, it was more a contract than donation.

The board reduced the fine because Randolph self-reported the violation.

On Tuesday, Randolph said she disagrees with the decision not to grant a rehearing and is preparing to challenge the fine in court using the same arguments laid out in her application for a rehearing.