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Questionable demands by band director likely violated state ethics laws

4 months 3 weeks 5 days ago Monday, April 30 2018 Apr 30, 2018 April 30, 2018 4:50 PM April 30, 2018 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE- Southern University Band Director Nathan Haymer violated state ethics laws when he demanded personal payments from multiple Mardi Gras krewes to have the band perform, WBRZ learned Monday. 

State ethics laws strictly regulate payments from nonpublic sources. Part of the law reads, "No public servant shall receive anything of economic value, other than compensation and benefits from the governmental entity to which he is duly entitled for the performance and duties and responsibilities of his office or position."

The WBRZ Investigative Unit has reported Haymer asked for extra payments from private organizations to have the band participate in events.  Hundreds of emails tied to Haymer's Southern University email account and obtained by the WBRZ Investigative Unit show Haymer demanded around $3,000 from Mardi Gras krewes - including Bacchus, Femme Fatale, Poseidon and Nyx. 

One of the emails WBRZ obtained showed a message to Zulu: "Make check payable to Nathan B. Haymer for $3,000."

Monday, a board member with Zulu who spoke with WBRZ on condition of anonymity said "anytime a band plays in Zulu, the krewe sends a check to the school or institution where the band comes from. We do not write checks to the band director personally. Nathan Haymer was the one who insisted the checks had to be written in his name. The krewe even asked, 'are you sure you want to do this?' And he said, 'I'm sure.'"

Two months ago, Haymer said he has never taken questionable checks or payments as band director. 

"I'm an honest person," Haymer said. "I have integrity. Southern pays me well enough, and there's no need for me to get kickbacks."

Following a previous WBRZ report, Haymer's brother, Niles, who is also the band director's attorney, attempted to start a social media campaign – claiming the band director at Florida A&M has received payments for that school's band to perform.
“Someone tell me what's the difference?” Niles Haymer posted, using hashtags – a social media technique to link conversations - #TelltheTruth and #MarchingforMrHaymer.

But, FAMU disputed Haymer's argument Monday.

The university told WBRZ, the band director there never received personal payments.

“[The post does not include the] full document which states all payments must be paid and written to Florida A&M University.... Once the funds are received they are distributed to the band's university account. All fees must be paid to the university...not to an individual."

Monday, board members making up the Southern University personnel committee appeared to have held a meeting at the administrative building on campus. Dr. Leon Tarver, Patrick Magee, Tony Clayton and Ann Smith were seen attending.

"I can tell you at no point did any board member give Dr. Belton instruction on what to do, except for to be honest, ethical and do what's appropriate," Magee said. 

No decision was made on Haymer's future with the university. When reached by phone, Haymer declined to comment but revealed the university had locked him out of his offices last week but restored access Monday.

Earlier this year, Haymer was the focus of a lawsuit by Octagon Media. The owner of Octagon Media claimed Haymer violated a contract after the company refused to pay him what was described as a kickback. Part of the lawsuit quotes a text message that reportedly came from Haymer's phone discussing the payment and asking for the owner of the company to "hide it.”

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