Governor's office leaving Council on Aging in charge of its own investigation
BATON ROUGE- There were additional calls for an investigation into the local council on aging director Tuesday.
This time, the requests were from members of an organization that includes people of similar positions for groups across the state. Those who spoke with WBRZ are concerned about the actions of East Baton Rouge Council on Aging Director Tasha Clark Amar.
Clark Amar was the focus of a WBRZ Investigative Unit report last week which showed a local council on aging board member drew up a will for an organization client that benefited Clark Amar. Clark Amar could garner as much as $125,000 from stipulations in the will. Her involvement in the estate wasn't discovered until Clark Amar called the family following the elderly woman's death, alerting them to the existence of the will and its requirements. In fact, the family said the woman, Helen Plummer, told them on her death bed, she had "no will." The will was drawn up by Dorothy Jackson at Southern University in July of 2016, days before Plummer's 95th birthday.
Becky Bergeron is the president of the Louisiana Council on Aging Director's Association. LACOADA meets three times a year to advocate for the elderly. The organization includes all 64 directors of council on aging groups from all parishes in the state. Members are watching the situation involving Plummer's will closely.
"It should be up to the Governor's Office of Elderly Affairs to investigate the allegations," Bergeron said.
It is concerning to Bergeron and others, she said, since both Clark Amar benefits from the will drawn up by Jackson, who is also a council board member. The will stated that Clark Amar shall pay herself $500 per month for the next 20 years to act as a trustee over Plummer's estate.
"If a senior came to her in peril, and her response to that was to bring her to Southern University to have a will drafted," Tracie Davis, Plummer's granddaughter, questioned recently, "[Clark Amar's] response should have been to connect that senior with resources, assistance, or help to reach out to the family. She should be removed. If not for what she did, but what she didn't do."
The Governor's Office of Elderly Affairs holds the charter for Clark Amar's group, and all others across the state, and its the agency being asked to investigate the situation in Baton Rouge. In addition, the EBR Council on Aging falls under state ethics laws.
The Investigative Unit has learned around this time last year, LACOADA hosted an ethics training session for the 64 council on aging directors around the state. What they learned was clear, nothing of monetary value could be taken or accepted from their clients or seniors at their centers.
"Whatever we took - we could take a meal sitting face to face with them - but nothing you can monetarily walk away with," Bergeron recalled.
Bergeron said Clark Amar attended the training.
Bergeron said she and other council on aging directors disagree with Clark Amar's involvement in the will and added her actions have caused a blemish on the good work similar organizations perform around the state.
"I'm concerned about the negative impact it makes for the council on aging across Louisiana," Bergeron said. "Especially right before the legislative session."
In a statement provided to WBRZ Tuesday night, the governor's office says it will leave the investigation in the hands of the East Baton Rouge Council on Aging.
"The governor's office has no involvement and any decisions rest solely with the East Baton Rouge Council on Aging's Board that governs their operations," the statement read.
That means Dorothy Jackson, who drew up the will in question, will be a part of the governing body that makes a final decision in the investigation.
> READ MORE: After the initial WBRZ report, some lawmakers called for Clark Amar's resignation. Read the report HERE.
Clark Amar has filed a lawsuit against Plummer's family over the estate. A hearing is scheduled for Thursday. Each side held news conferences to counter each other Monday. Click HERE for more.