Councilman wants parish to reimburse money spent to fight ethics charge

St. Charles Parish Councilman Clayton “Snookie” Faucheux has authored a resolution that asks the parish administration to reimburse legal expenses to former Planning and Zoning Commissioner Neal Clulee, which were incurred in defense of an ethics complaint.

Last year, the state’s Ethics Adjudicatory Board ruled that Clulee and his wife, Mary, did not violate ethics law when they applied for and received a zoning change for property they own on Highway 90 in Luling. This reversed an earlier decision by the state’s Board of Ethics, who ruled that the Clulees were in violation of the state ethics law.

The incident began in January 2010 when the parish sent a letter to Clulee advising him that he was in violation of the zoning code when he allowed Phylway Construction, LLC to store trucks, fuel tanks and job trailers on two tracts of land he owns. The land was zoned for residential use and the parish told Clulee that he must move the construction trailers and fueling tanks off of the residential property. Instead Clulee submitted an application to the parish’s Planning and Zoning Department requesting a rezoning of the property.

Clulee did not attend a public hearing about the rezone held by the Planning and Zoning Commission, but his wife, Mary, did speak in favor of the rezone.

The rezone was agreed upon by the Planning and Zoning Commission and put into affect following a vote of the St. Charles Parish Council.

Faucheux says the parish informed the state’s Board of Ethics about the incident. After reviewing the case, the board ruled that the Clulees violated ethics law when they applied for the rezone while Neal Clulee was a member of the commission. The Clulees hired legal representation to fight the charge and argued that they did not enter into a transaction with the commission because applications for rezoning are submitted to the Planning and Zoning Department, not the Planning and Zoning Commission.

The Clulees appealed the Board of Ethic’s decision to a panel of administrative law judges with the Ethics Adjudicatory Board. The Adjudicatory Board agreed with the Clulees, ruling that the laws prohibiting appointees from entering into certain contractual relationships with the parish government do not prohibit a Planning and Zoning Commission member from seeking a zoning change.

Faucheux’s resolution, which will be voted on by the council on Monday, Aug. 5, asks the parish to pay Clulee $8,589.26.

Faucheux has also authored an ordinance that will be voted on Monday night that calls for the parish to reimburse legal expenses for any appointed officer, board member or elected official who retains outside counsel to defend an ethics complaint.

The meeting will be held on Aug. 5 at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers at the courthouse.


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