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Council, administration continue to spar over halted investigation

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Posted at 3:50 PM, Apr 06, 2023

The investigation has been stopped, but Josh Guillory's administration is still sparring with City Council members over it.

Last month, the Lafayette City Council called a halt to an investigation into the Guillory administration that they hired a Baton Rouge firm to conduct. At that meeting, council chair Glenn Lazard said the state Legislative Auditor was conducting a parallel investigation and to avoid duplication the council investigation would stop. The firm was to turn over all information they'd gathered to the Legislative Auditor. To read our story about that, click here.

At a special meeting Tuesday, council member Andy Naquin complained that he never got a report from that firm, Faulk and Winkler. The meeting was called to give final council approval to the individual invoices that the firm had submitted for the work done before the legislative auditor took over.

The council already had approved at least one of the firm's invoices at a March meeting. But Council member Nanette Cook said some of the individual invoices hadn't been approved by the council prior to their being paid, and thus the council met today in special session to approve them all. The allocation of the funds for the investigation - $100,000 - was approved by the council last fall, when the decision was made to hire the firm.

Under the City-Parish charter, the council can conduct an investigation of the Mayor-President. To read about that, click here.

Cook said each individual invoice should have been approved by the council prior to it being paid, but some weren't and so they held the meeting to approve them all - including those that already had been paid.

Naquin then said he wanted to see what Faulk and Winkler had come up with, and referenced a letter sent to the firm by City-Parish Attorney Greg Logan. The letter, which wasn't attached to the council agenda, was called a "demand letter" several times during the meeting.

KATC Investigates obtained the letter, which you can read for yourself below. It was sent to the firm by Logan on Tuesday. In it, he demands that the firm return $41,000 paid to the firm, and accuses Cook and the council's staff of submitting the invoices for payment without proper authorization. He threatens the firm with legal action if they don't return the money or make arrangements to do so prior to April 10.

Lazard reiterated what he had said at last month's meeting, that no report had been prepared by the firm, and that everything they had was turned over to the Legislative Auditor. He said the state investigators would issue a report when they were done.

Cook added that the firm didn't have anything to report yet, because they were still waiting on information from the administration. She said she and Lazard had met with some members of the firm to discuss the status, and she said she could set up a similar meeting for Naquin. Cook also said she would have liked to have seen the letter Logan sent, or at least to have known it was being sent.

"He had every right to send it," Naquin said. "He represents the city."

"Does he?" Cook responded. "Who are we?"

Logan then asked Cook who it was she spoke with at the Legislative Auditor's office about the investigation. He said he was trying to find that person's name. Cook said she doesn't remember the person's name. He also argued with Lazard, who also is an attorney, about what Lazard had said earlier in the meeting while recounting his conversation with the Legislative Auditor. Both men referenced the fact that the meeting was being recorded, and after it became clear they would not agree on what was said, Lazard invited Logan to go back and listen to what he had said.

In the end, the council approved payment of the invoices from Faulk and Winkler. If you'd like to watch the tape of the meeting, you can do so here.

If you'd like to read the engagement letter that the council signed in hiring the firm, The Current obtained it and you can read it here.

Here's Logan's letter, which was referenced during the meeting: