Created By: Sheila LaCost on 10/17/1997 at 11:54 AM
| CN 1995-169|
Category: Ethics Rulings
LOUISIANA BOARD OF ETHICS
DATE: October 16, 1997 OPINION NO.: CN 95-169
RE: In the matter of Nancy Wells
The Louisiana Board of Ethics (the "Board") pursuant to the authority contained in LSA-R.S. 42:1141, conducted a private investigation concerning information that Nancy Wells may have violated Section 1113(A) and/or Section 1119 of the Louisiana Code of Governmental Ethics (LSA-R.S. 42:1101 et seq.) (the "Code") by providing compensated services to Southern University, College of Engineering, at a time when her brother, Dr. Thomas Henderson, served as the Director of the Engineering Summer Institute and as Interim Dean of Engineering.
On the basis of information obtained by the Board during the course of this investigation, and with the concurrence of Nancy Wells, the Board now makes the following essential:
I. Nancy Wells is the sister of Dr. Thomas Henderson, who was employed by Southern University from January of 1975 through April of 1996.
FINDINGS OF FACT
2. In February of 1976, Dr. Henderson became the Director of the Engineering Summer Institute, a position he held until January, 1995. Additionally, Dr. Henderson was an Associate Professor in the College of Engineering and from August, 1993 until January 10, 1995, he acted as Interim Dean of Engineering.
3. Nancy Wells was employed for portions of the summers of 1990 through 1993 as the Coordinator of the Engineering Summer Institute, Elementary Section. This program is a part of the College of Engineering. Ms. Wells was paid $8,000 as Coordinator in 1992 and $8,000 as Coordinator in 1993.
4. Ms. Wells was also to provide catering services to the College of Engineering through her business, Sweet Inspirations in 1994. Sweet Inspirations was paid a total of $8,050 by the Southern University Foundation upon Dr. Henderson’s request and approval.
II. At issue in this case are Sections 1113(A) and 1119A of the Code of Governmental Ethics.
Section 1113(A) provides in pertinent part as follows:
§1113. Prohibited contractual arrangements
* * * *
Section 1113(A) imposes a restriction on contracts, subcontracts and transactions which may be entered into by a public servant, his immediate family or a legal entity in which either of them owns a "controlling interest." The Code defines "controlling interest" as "ownership by an individual or his spouse, either individually or collectively, of an interest which exceeds twenty-five percent of any legal entity." LSA-R.S. 42:1102(8).
A. No public servant . . .or member of such public servant’s immediate family, or legal entity in which he has a controlling interest shall bid on or enter into any contract, subcontract, or other transaction that is under the supervision or jurisdiction of the agency of such public servant.
Section 1119A of the Code states:
A. No member of the immediate family of an agency head shall be employed in his agency.
"Immediate family" is defined at Section 1102(13) as follows:
(13) "Immediate family" as the term relates to a public servant means his children, the spouses of his children, brothers, sisters, parents, spouse, and the parents of his spouse. (Emphasis added.)
III. It is the opinion of the Board that Nancy Wells violated Sections 1113A and 1119 of the Louisiana Code of Governmental Ethics by providing compensated services as an employee in the Engineering Summer Institute and subsequently by providing catering services, under the name Sweet Inspirations, to the College of Engineering.
As Director of the Engineering Summer Institute and as Interim Dean of the College of Engineering, Dr. Henderson was an “agency head”. His agency as Director of the Engineering Summer Institute was the entire Engineering Summer Institute program. Therefore, Ms. Wells, his sister, was prohibited from being employed by the Engineering Summer Institute.
As Interim Dean of the College of Engineering, Dr. Henderson’s agency encompassed the College of Engineering. Not only was Ms. Wells prohibited from employment in that College under Section 1119, she and her company were prohibited from entering into any type of transaction with the College under Section 1113A.
The Board is authorized to impose fines upon finding that a violation of the Code has occurred. In this particular situation, given the facts outlined above, it is the conclusion of the Board that the interest of the public would be served by the imposition of a $1,500 fine.
IV. For the foregoing reasons:
DECREE AND ORDER
IT IS ORDERED that the Board finds as a matter of fact and as a conclusion of law that Nancy Wells violated Section 1119 of the Code of Governmental Ethics by being employed within the Southern University Engineering Summer Institute while her brother, Dr. Thomas Henderson, served as Director of the Engineering Summer Institute.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Board finds as a matter of fact and as a conclusion of law that Nancy Wells and/or Sweet Inspirations Catering violated Section 1113A of the Code of Governmental Ethics by providing catering services to the College of Engineering at a time when Ms. Wells’ brother, Dr. Thomas Henderson, served as Interim Dean of the College of Engineering.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that a fine of $1,500 be and is hereby imposed upon Nancy Wells to be paid in ten equal monthly installments commencing November 1, 1997 and on the first day of each successive month until paid.
BY ORDER OF THE BOARD this 16th day of October , 1997.
s/Robert Roland s/ T. O. Perry, Jr.
Robert Roland, Chairman T.O. Perry, Jr., Member
s/ Harry Blumenthal, Jr. Absent and did not participate
Harry Blumenthal, Jr., Vice Chairman Ronald L. Sawyer, Member
Absent and did not participate Absent and did not participate
Dr. Robert Bareikis, Member Nathan J. Thornton, Jr.,Member
Absent and did not participate Edwin O. Ware, III
Judge E. L. Guidry, Member Edwin O. Ware, III, Member
s/ Virgil Orr s/ Carole Cotton Winn
Dr. Virgil Orr, Member Rev. Carole Cotton Winn, Member
s/ Revius Ortique, Jr.
Justice Revius Ortique, Jr., Member