Created By: Sylvia Scott on 11/10/2005 at 09:04 AM
| 2004-882 Miss-Lou|
Category: Ethics Rulings
LOUISIANA BOARD OF ETHICS
DATED: November 8, 2005 OPINION NO: 2004-882
RE: In the matter of Metro Rural Services, LLC, now known as Miss-Lou Ambulance Service, LLC
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 Metro Rural Services, LLC, now known as Miss-Lou Ambulance Service, LLC (hereinafter referred to as "Miss-Lou") may have violated provisions of the Code of Governmental Ethics (LSA-R.S. 42:1101 et seq.) (the “Code”) by providing transportation services for the Riverland Medical Center, which is part of the Concordia Parish Hospital Service District, at a time when Jim Graves served as an appointed member of the Concordia Parish Hospital Service District Board of Commissioners and Mr. Graves was an employee of Metro Rural Services, LLC, now known as Miss-Lou Ambulance Service, LLC.
On the basis of information obtained by the Board during the course of the investigation, and with the concurrence of Miss-Lou, the Board now makes the following essential:
I. Jim Graves has served as an appointed member of the Concordia Parish Hospital Service District (the "District") Board of Commissioners since the spring of 2001.
FINDINGS OF FACT
2. The District oversees the operations of Riverland Medical Center.
3. Since prior to 2001, Miss-Lou has entered into annual contracts with Riverland Medical Center to provide emergency and non-emergency transportation services for the medical center. As of July 30, 2005, Miss-Lou terminated its contractual relationship with Riverland Medical Center.
4. Mr. Graves is employed with Miss-Lou as a paramedic and is the manager of the Mississippi territory. Mr. Graves is responsible for Miss-Lou's public relations in overseeing its Mississippi operations. Mr. Graves does not have an ownership interest in Miss-Lou; however, pursuant to an order issued by the Bankruptcy Court, Mr. Graves, along with Bob Purvis, was made responsible for all management decisions of Miss-Lou, including financial and bankruptcy-related matters. Mr. Graves receives a salary of approximately $52,000 a year from Miss-Lou.
II. At issue in this case are Sections 1111,1113, and 1117 of the Code. Section 1111C(2)(d) provides:
§1111. Payment from nonpublic sources
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C. Payments for nonpublic service.
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(2) No public servant and no legal entity in which the public servant exercises control or owns an interest in excess of twenty-five percent, shall receive any thing of economic value for or in consideration of services rendered, or to be rendered, to or for any person during his public service unless such services are:
* * *(d) Neither performed for nor compensated by any person from whom such public servant would be prohibited by R.S. 42:1115(A)(1) or (B) from receiving a gift.
* * *
Section 1115 of the Code sets forth those prohibited sources referenced in Section 1111C(2)(d) and provides in pertinent part:
§ 1115. Gifts
A. No public servant shall solicit or accept, directly or indirectly, any thing of economic value as a gift or gratuity from any person or from any officer, director, agent, or employee of such person, if such public servant knows or reasonably should know that such person:
(1) Has or is seeking to obtain contractual or other business or financial relationships with the public servant's agency, or
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Section 1117 of the Code provides that a person is prohibited from making payments to a person if the Code prohibits the public servant from receiving the payment and provides in pertinent part:
B. No public employee shall solicit or accept, directly or indirectly, anything of economic value as a gift or gratuity from any person or from any officer, director, agent, or employee of such person, if such public employee knows or reasonably should know that such person:
(1) Conducts operations or activities which are regulated by the public employee's agency.
(2) Has substantial economic interests which may be substantially affected by the performance or nonperformance of the public employee’s official duty.
Section 1113B of the Code provides:
§1117. Illegal payments
No public servant or other person shall give, pay, loan, transfer, or deliver or offer to give, pay, loan, transfer, or deliver, directly or indirectly, to any public servant or other person any thing of economic value which such public servant or other person would be prohibited from receiving by any provision of this Part.
§1113. Prohibited contractual arrangements
* * *B. Other than a legislator, no appointed member of any board or commission, member of his immediate family, or legal entity in which he has a substantial economic interest shall bid on or enter into or be in any way interested in any contract, subcontract, or other transaction which is under the supervision or jurisdiction of the agency of such appointed member.
* * *
The following terms are defined in Section 1102 of the Code and are relevant when analyzing the above Sections:
(2)(a) “Agency” means a department, office, division, agency, commission, board, committee, or other organizational unit of a governmental entity. For purposes of this Chapter, “agency of the public servant” and “his agency” when used in reference to the agency of a public servant shall mean:
* * *(vi) For public servants of political subdivisions, it shall mean the agency in which the public servant serves, except that for members of any governing authority and for the elected or appointed chief executive of a governmental entity, it shall mean the governmental entity. Public servants of political subdivisions shall include, but shall not be limited to, elected officials and public employees of municipalities, parishes, and other political subdivisions; . . .
(20.1) “Service” means the performance of work, duties, or responsibilities, or the leasing, rental, or sale of movable or immovable property.
(21) “Substantial economic interest” means an economic interest which is of greater benefit to the public servant or other person than to a general class or group of persons, except:
(a) The interest that the public servant has in his position, office, rank, salary, per diem, or other matter arising solely from his public employment or office.
(b) The interest that a person has as a member of the general public.
(22)(a) “Thing of economic value” means money or any other thing having economic value, except promotional items having no substantial resale value; food, drink, or refreshments consumed by a public servant, including reasonable transportation and entertainment incidental thereto, while the personal guest of some person, . . .
(23) “Transaction involving the governmental entity” means any proceeding, application, submission, request for a ruling or other determination, contract, claim, case, or other such particular matter which the public servant or former public servant of the governmental entity in question knows or should know:
(a) Is, or will be, the subject of action by the governmental entity.
(b) Is one to which the governmental entity is or will be a party.
(c) Is one in which the governmental entity has a direct interest. A transaction involving the agency of a governmental entity shall have the same meaning with respect to the agency.
III. It is the opinion of the Board that Miss-Lou violated Section 1117 of the Code by making payments to Jim Graves, when the Code prohibited Mr. Graves from receiving said payments. Section 1111C(2)(d) of the Code prohibits public servants from receiving a thing of economic value for services provided to a person that has a contractual, business or financial relationship with his agency. Therefore, Section 1111C(2)(d) prohibited Mr. Graves from receiving compensation as an employee from Miss-Lou, at a time when Mr. Graves served as a member of the District’s Board of Commissioners and Miss-Lou had a contractual relationship with the District's hospital, Riverland Medical Center. Since the Code prohibited Mr. Graves from receiving said compensation, Section 1117 of the Code prohibited Miss-Lou from making said payments to Mr. Graves.
Also, the Board concluded that Section 1113B of the Code prohibited Miss-Lou from entering into or having contracts with Riverland Medical Center, at a time when Mr. Graves served on the District’s Board of Commissioners. Section 1113B of the Code prohibits a legal entity in which an appointed member of a board or commission has a substantial economic interest from entering into or being in any way interested in a contract that is under the supervision or jurisdiction of the appointed member’s agency. As an employee and manager for Miss-Lou, Mr. Graves has a substantial economic interest in Miss-Lou. Therefore, Miss-Lou was prohibited from having a contract with Riverland Medical Center at a time when Mr. Graves served as an appointed member of the District’s Board of Commissioners.
The Board is authorized to impose penalties on 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 a penalty of $2,000 be imposed on Miss-Lou for violating Sections 1111C(2)(d) and 1113B of the Code, which will be suspended conditioned on Miss-Lou’s future compliance with the provisions of the Code.
IV. For the foregoing reasons:
DECREE AND ORDER
IT IS ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED that the Board finds as a matter of fact and as a conclusion of law that Miss-Lou violated Section 1117 of the Code of Governmental Ethics by making payments to Jim Graves at a time when Mr. Graves served as an appointed member of the Concordia Parish Hospital Service District Board of Commissioners and was a compensated employee of Miss-Lou.
IT IS ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED that the Board finds as a matter of fact and as a conclusion of law that Miss-Lou violated Section 1113B of the Code of Governmental Ethics by having contracts with Riverland Medical Center, at a time when Jim Graves served as an appointed member of the Concordia Parish Hospital Service District Board of Commissioners and was employed as a paramedic and manager for Miss-Lou.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED that a penalty of $2,000, payable to the Treasurer of the State of Louisiana, be and is hereby imposed upon Miss-Lou for violating Sections 1117 and 1113B of the Code, which is suspended conditioned on Miss-Lou’s future compliance with the provisions of the Code.
By Order of the Board this 8th day of November, 2005.
Did not participate s/Hank Perret
Robert L. Roland, Chairman Henry C. Perret, Jr., Vice-Chairman
s/John W. Greene s/Gwendolyn P. Hamilton
Judge John W. Greene Gwendolyn P. Hamilton
s/E. L. Guidry, Jr. s/R. L. Hargrove, Jr.
Judge E. L. Guidry, Jr. R. L. Hargrove, Jr.
s/Michael T. Johnson Absent and did not participate.
Michael T. Johnson Michael J. Kantrow, Sr.
s/Joseph Maselli s/Ascension Delgado Smith
Joseph Maselli Ascension Delgado Smith
Dr. Dolores Spikes
The undersigned (a) stipulates to the facts found by the Board; (b) waives the procedural requirements contained in Section 1141 of the Code; (c) admits that the conduct, as described above, violated Sections 1117 and 1113B of the Code; (d) consents to the publication of this opinion; (e) agrees to comply with the conditions and orders set forth in this opinion; and (f) agrees not to seek judicial review of the findings and actions taken in this opinion.
Miss-Lou Ambulance Service, LLC Date
s/Jim Graves/Bob Purvis 9/1/05
Through its authorized representative