IG says Jefferson administration detached; the response: baloney

Inspector generals, by nature, ruffle politicians’ feathers with investigations of waste, fraud and abuse. Yet the latest clash between Jefferson Parish’s inspector general, David McClintock, and Parish President Mike Yenni’s administration centers not on McClintock’s exposes but on the administration’s response – or lack thereof.

McClintock and his allies used an Ethics and Compliance Commission meeting Wednesday night (Dec. 13) to bemoan what they portrayed as an indifferent attitude on the part of the administration toward the work of the inspector general’s office. Yenni’s top staff repeatedly fails to respond to draft reports or set up corrective action plans, McClintock said, citing as the most recent example an audit of the Finance Authority.

Piling on were:

  • First Assistant Inspector General Kim Raines Chatelain: “The administration does not seem happy that we are doing it right.”
  • Commissioner Paul LaRosa Jr.: “It seems incredibly difficult to get anyone to cooperate.”
  • Commission Chairwoman Carroll Suggs: “The citizens deserve better than this.”

To which Yenni’s chief operating officer, Keith Conley, responded: Baloney. He said the administration has submitted responses to every inspector general’s office report except one, which was directed to the Parish Council.

In the case of the Finance Authority, Conley said an interview Thursday, the administration was already working on a plan to distance itself in law and accounting from that agency. “This ball was rolling long before the IG got onto it,” he said.

Keith Conley, chief operating officer in Parish President Mike Yenni’s administration, says the administration was already working on a plan to distance itself in law and accounting from the Finance Authority when the inspector general asked it to pause the effort. (Photo by David Grunfeld, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune archive)  

When McClintock learned of the administration’s efforts, Conley said, he asked during a one-hour meeting Nov. 9 that it pause the work until his own office could complete the Finance Authority audit. Conley said he agreed – and thus was surprised that McClintock beat up on the administration Wednesday night.

Conley said the administration and inspector general’s office generally have the same goals and are not adversaries.

“Have we agreed on everything? No,” Conley said. “Have we always had a dialogue? Yes.”

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Drew Broach covers Jefferson Parish politics and Louisiana interests in Congress, plus other odds and ends, for NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune. Email: dbroach@nola.com. Facebook: Drew Broach TP. Twitter: drewbroach1. Google+: Drew Broach.

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