Can public agencies legally hire lobbyists?
By C.B. Forgotston - Mar 15, 2012
According to a story in the Times-Picayune, the Port of South Louisiana is hiring two lobbyists for its staff. See story here.
These positions "will be required to devote their efforts to directing every aspect of projects assigned, working closely with federal and state legislators, local officials and special interest groups in order to influence legislation beneficial to accomplishing the objectives of port projects.
The law: These new positions appear to violate the state law.
LA R.S. 34 :2471(A) states that the Port of South Louisiana is a "political subdivision of the state."
LA R.S. 43:31(D) provides in part: No branch, department, agency, official, employee, or other entity of state government shall expend funds of, administered by, or under the control of any branch, department, agency, employee, official, or other entity of state government … to lobby for or against any proposition or matter having the effect of law being considered by the legislature or any local governing authority.
Apparently the Civil Service Commission did not address the legality of the positions.
First Amendment battered in La.
The last few days have not been good ones for the First Amendment freedom of expression in Louisiana.
Yesterday, Bobby Jindal fired a state employee for expressing her views on a matter before a lege committee. See here.
The Dead Pelican reports that LSU System President John Lombardi issued a "gag order" all LSU system administrators to not complain about the budget cuts made to LSU by Jindal. See report here.
State employees targeted
It seems that Jindal and his minion Lombardi have effectively disenfranchised a class of people in Louisiana from exercising their rights as granted under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Obviously, Jindal and Lombardi cannot suspend the operation of the U.S. Constitution for certain state employees, but they have in effect done just that.
Anyone who dares to defy the orders of Jindal and Lombardi facing the likelihood of losing their state jobs.
This sounds more like the old Soviet Union than America.
Where do they stand?
The other public officials in Louisiana have remained unusually quiet on this matter. Obviously, the affected state employees cannot say anything.
Tell the governor where you stand on this matter via: Telephone @ 866-366-1121 (Toll Free) or Fax: (225) 342-7099 or email here.
Additionally, ask your leges where they stand on this matter.
Today it is the state employees, tomorrow it may be you and me.
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