ELMWOOD, La.-- Days after the Jefferson Parish Office of Inspector General issued its first subpoena to compel an interview with a parish administrator, the IG issued a memo demanding greater access to parish records and facilities, including around-the-clock access to parish buildings.
Inspector General Dave McClintock renewed his request for full swipe-card access to all parish government buildings Tuesday. McClintock reached an agreement with the Yenni administration to ask the parish security director for entry when needed, but in the memo, McClintock alleges the parish staff "continues to prohibit swipe card access."
"We have the entire council, all those elected officials, as well as the administration and our work staff and we just don't think it would be a good practice to allow anybody, other than maintenance or security purposes to be able to go into anybody's office at any given time without some type of agreement or policy that's in the best interests of everybody," said Yenni's Chief Administrative Officer Keith Conley.
While the OIG can conduct criminal investigations, McClintock says the majority of his probes are administrative in nature, likening them to Conley looking into allegations of fraud and/or waste within parish government himself.
But the nature of having an independent entity to root out fraud, waste, abuse and inefficiency is key to the success of the OIG, and McClintock argues prohibiting access is a violation of the parish ordinance that established the IG's office.
"You can only get into our facility if you bring my person with you. That is not independence," McClintock said in an interview Tuesday.
In the memo, McClintock writes, "It has become clear to me that the administration does not place a priority on the JPOIG’s operational independence."
But Conley counters, "The last thing that we want to be accused of is interfering or meddling in an investigation, but by the same token, he's got to be respectful of our independence and realize that some of the things he's doing is interfering and meddling in the administration."
Last week, McClintock asked a judge to issue a subpoena to compel a Yenni official to appear at the IG's office for an interview. According to the IG, parish Public Information Officer, and former WWL-TV reporter, Antwan Harris ignored repeated requests to come to the IG's office.
"Antwan doesn't have to go down there and talk to him if Antwan doesn't want to go down there and talk to him. [McClintock] had access to come meet with [Harris] and speak with him anywhere in the building. I guess that was a line that was drawn in the sand," Conley said.
The subpoena, however, requires Harris to appear at the OIG Wednesday, June 14, 2017 at 10 a.m.
McClintock maintains it is essential to allow the OIG to choose the venue for an interview to allow parish employees to speak freely away from their supervisors, but Conley argues it's putting an undue burden on the parish.
"We're just in a position where we need to determine a way in which we don't step on each others toes and function efficiently," Conley said.
The CAO had scheduled a meeting Tuesday with the Chair person of the board that oversees the OIG try and work on a solution.
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