Created By: Wendy Ingram on 03/14/2007 at 01:22 PM
Category: Lobbyist Advisory Opinions
Dismissed Document:

March 14, 2007

Mr. J. Isaac Funderburk
Funderburk & Herpin
P.O. Drawer 1030
Abbeville, LA 70511-1030

Re: Ethics Board Docket No. 2007-160

Dear Mr. Funderburk:

The Louisiana Board of Ethics, at its March 8, 2007 meeting, considered your request for an advisory opinion regarding whether Vermilion Parish Sheriff deputies may accept donations from a Katrina Relief Fund. You stated that four deputies from Vermilion Parish have been identified as potential recipients of excess donations collected after Katrina. These persons were adversely affected by Hurricane Rita. Donations for Katrina evacuees were collected by Keith Fontenot and Bill Guidry and were used to assist persons who evacuated to Evangeline Parish during the 2005 hurricane season. They state that all evacuees to Evangeline Parish have been helped or have moved back home or moved on and that there is still money in the “Katrina Relief Fund”. They would like to give this money to Vermilion Parish Sheriff's Office to assist any officers adversely affected by Hurricane Rita.

Based on the information provided, the Board concluded, and instructed me to inform you, that the Code of Governmental Ethics prohibits the receipt of funds from the “Katrina Relief Fund” by deputies of the Vermilion Parish Sheriff’s Office. Section 1111A of the Code prohibits a public servant from receiving a thing of economic value, other than the compensation and benefits to which they are entitled to receive from their governmental employer, for the performance of the duties and responsibilities of their governmental position. Since they receiving the donation because of the governmental position that they hold, the donation is prohibited. The exception contained in Section 1123(36), which allowed for governmental employees to accept donations in limited situations following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, is inapplicable since the source of the donations is not included in the exclusive list approved by the Legislature. However, the Board instructed the staff to inform you that the Code does not prohibit Keith Fontenot and Bill Guidry from making an unconditional donation of the funds directly to the Vermilion Parish Sheriff’s Office for use and/or distribution by the governmental entity, including distribution to the deputies as compensation, if they are duly entitled to receive such compensation.
The Board issues no opinion as to past conduct or as to laws other than the Code of Governmental Ethics. Any questions concerning the proper use of public funds should be directed to the Attorney General’s Office. If you have any further questions, please contact me at (225)763-8777 or at (800)842-6630.



Peggy A. Sabadie
For the Board