Xerxes Wilson / HoumaToday.com
THIBODAUX, La. - Lafourche Parish President Charlotte Randolph must pay $60,000 as punishment for violating a state ethics law by renting her Grand Isle camp to BP following the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.
The state Ethics Board ruled today that Randolph must repay $50,000 in ill-gotten gains in addition to a $10,000 fine for violating laws that prohibit a public servant from receiving money from entities parish government has a contact with.
Randolph only said she is reviewing her options after the ruling was released this morning. The ruling stipulates Randolph may apply for a rehearing with the board within 10 days. She can also appeal the ruling in court.
As oil gushed from the Macondo well in April 2010, local hotels and rental properties filled with workers hired to respond to the spill.
Charlotte Randolph said the couple decided to lease the property after "conversations with friends and other officials" about "similar arrangements they had with BP."
The couple were paid $100 per night for each person using the property. They were paid about $50,000 total for the rental.
Before that agreement between Randolph and BP was reached, the parish entered contract to accept $1 million from BP to cover costs related to the spill.
"The statute is broad, but it is very clear. She is prohibited from providing services, compensated services to BP while BP has this relationship with her agency." Tracy Barker, staff attorney for the Ethics Administration, said at a hearing on the issue earlier this month.
The law Randolph was found in violation of are framed to prevent public servants from being improperly influenced through their private business.
At the hearing, Randolph argued the disaster, not her personal dealings, led to the parish entering contract with BP. She also argued that her authority as parish president, even if wielded in return for rent money, has no bearing on BP's legal battles.
"We further determine that the extraordinary circumstances involved do not excuse her conduct," the ruling states in response.