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Metro Councilman Rowdy Gaudet to pay $50k fine for ethics violations; worked for company paid by city-parish

1 year 9 months 2 weeks ago Friday, September 02 2022 Sep 2, 2022 September 02, 2022 5:09 PM September 02, 2022 in News
Source: WBRZ
Rowdy Gaudet (Photo: Emergent Method)

BATON ROUGE - Metro Councilman Rowdy Gaudet was ordered to pay a $50,000 fine for violating ethics laws after working for a consulting firm that received contracts from the city-parish government.

The Advocate reports the firm, Emergent Method, will separately pay a $2,500 civil penalty under a consent opinion with the Louisiana Board of Ethics that was approved Friday.

Gaudet was managing director for Emergent Method, a frequent contractor with the city-parish from May 2020 until he left the company in May 2022, according to his LinkedIn profile. He did not own a stake in the company.

Gaudet released the following statement Friday afternoon:

"I am a person of deep faith with a strong moral compass and a demonstrated desire to be a selfless public servant, and this ruling by the Board of Ethics is clearly not representative of the values I live out. Since being contacted by the Ethics Board about this matter I have expended a substantial amount of effort demonstrating to the Board members numerous reasons why I was compliant with their published rules: the fact that there are currently over 100 opinions on their website allowing for non-owner employees to serve in public office - the very same website their ethics training directs all public servants to reference for previous opinions; the fact that this practice for part time elected officials has been allowed for over 40 years, even for previous Metro Councilmembers, and there’s been no public declaration changing it; the fact that I had no ownership interest in my employer and appropriately abstained as a Councilmember from any votes related to its contracts; and the fact that since being elected I was advised by several attorneys that I was in compliance with all ethics regulations. I even called to the Board’s attention the policy implications that this broad ruling is going to eliminate a substantial portion of the population from holding public office. 

It was my hope that all of this evidence would have been acknowledged by the Board members, they would have recognized there was no intent, and we would have reached a reasonable resolution; however, the Board never modified its position and my family and I have undergone the stress of a substantial financial fine. My conscience is clear, and I remain steadfast that I adhered to all previously promulgated Ethics Commission rules and policies. I strongly believe the Board should have ruled on this by providing information, not by imposing a punitive penalty. Every elected official and candidate for office should pay attention to this ruling, as this is clearly a new policy and interpretation of long standing rules which, in my opinion, were not properly promulgated to public servants like myself. 

While I vehemently disagree with their ruling, I accept this outcome as a means of bringing comfort to my family. It was clear there was no path to overturning the Board’s decision and I am not inclined to pursue this through a lengthy and expensive legal process. As a community leader I’ll always own my actions and agreeing to a settlement puts this behind me. These actions do not break my commitment to public service, and I remain focused on continuing to serve the residents of East Baton Rouge Parish."

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