BATON ROUGE -- Dr. Bill Cassidy spent two decades as a full-time physician and liver specialist for the LSU Earl K. Long Hospital in Baton Rouge.
LSU allowed Cassidy to drop down to part-time,16 hours a month, after voters elected him to Congress in 2009. He was to be paid a $20,000 a year stipend for the work. Cassidy was also allowed to keep his LSU tenure and malpractice insurance.
WWL-TV asked LSU Health Science Center to produce Cassidy's timesheets from 2009 to the present. Hospital officials were only able to find 16 timesheets. There should have been 63 turned in by Cassidy between the time he became part-time and this past April when he took a leave of absence to run for the U.S. Senate.
According to the timesheets, Cassidy only met or exceeded 16 hours a month, six times in the more than five years he worked part time for LSU.
Appearing on the Eyewitness Morning News earlier this week, Cassidy's senate opponent, incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu, called the revelation, unethical and possibly illegal.
"Hiding behind the fact that he's a doctor that serves the poor, but what we now know, from these records is that he's serving himself an extra paycheck," said Landrieu. "That's not right. It could be illegal and it looks very much like payroll fraud."
LSU also produced emails that indicate Cassidy's supervisors at the LSUHSC were a little uncomfortable about his part-time arrangement.
On January 29, 2009, Cassidy writes: "I am spending approximately 5 hours to 10 hours a week on LSUHSC activity. This includes activity at Angola, private practice, discussing research issues and patient care issues with my research coordinator and nurse practitioner, speaking to residents and taking internet courses in research ethics."
On March 25, 2009, Earl K. Long Business Manager William Livings sends and email to to Internal Medicine Department Head George Karam. He writes, "We are going to really have to spell out exactly what it is he does for us for his remuneration from us. Believe me, this scenario will be a very auditable item and I feel they will really hone in on this situation to make sure we are meeting all federal and state regulations."
Karam writes, "I could make up some semblance of what I think his duties could be, but, in this case, given his status as a U.S. Congressman, I think it would be prudent, from our perspective if I knew exactly what ya'll expect from him for his one day per week."
WWL-TV political analyst Clancy DuBos says both Cassidy and LSU have some explaining to do."At a minimum, this looks like an inside deal for a guy who's politically connected and LSU wanted to do a smoothie for a Congressman," said DuBos. "Worst case scenario, it's payroll fraud."
Cassidy's campaign spokesman John Cummins told Eyewitness News, "Dr. Cassidy is on a stipend - he does not bill for his work."
He also said, "There has never been made an issue with the amounts of time Dr. Cassidy served. Dr. Cassidy has more than fulfilled his obligation with LSU.
Cummins dismissed the payroll fraud allegation as false, saying Senator Landrieu is attacking in desperation.
DuBos says it doesn't appear this issue has gained much traction with voters."This thing would have gotten a lot more traction if it had come out six months ago," said DuBos. "If Rob Maness had this information, six months ago, he might be in the runoff with Senator Landrieu or she may have won on November 4."
LSU refused our request for comment.
Director of Media Relations Ernie Ballard sent a statment saying, "Based on concerns that have surfaced in the news media, we will review any information we have regarding Dr. Bill Cassidy's employment with LSU, just as we would any other employee."