Lt. Gov. Nungesser’s Scam Deal Isn’t Funny; It’s Impeachable

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“It might be a good idea to get someone from IT to make sure Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser’s spam filter is working,” joked Jeffrey Bostick, also known as Skooks, on his website Library Chronicles. “We can’t keep falling for phishing schemes.” Jeffery sarcastically titled his post, “The Nungesser Administration seems to be going well.”

Jan Moller, the Director of the Louisiana Budget Project, beat most of us to the punch when he observed on Facebook, “I always used to wonder what kind of person fell for those Nigerian prince email scams. This explains a lot.”

On Sunday, Rebekah Allen and Richard Thompson published a blockbuster story in The Advocate, detailing the ways in which the newly-elected Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser became involved in what transparently appears to be a bogus and comically ludicrous attempt to negotiate a mega-billion dollar deal between a Lake Charles “healing company” named Alexandros (headquartered in Delaware) and the government of Iraq. The deal was supposed to create 30,000 new jobs, revitalize the Avondale shipyard, and invest more than $1 billion in charitable causes. In exchange, Alexandros would contract for 25-years with the government of Iraq to export 150 million barrels of Iraqi oil every month.

Falah Alamri, the director general of Iraq’s oil export agency, told The Washington Post that the contracts outlined by Nungesser were “a hundred percent not real.”

“We don’t have any such deal,” he said.

According to Nungesser, the entire deal was presented to him by the chairman of the Louisiana Republican Party, Roger Villere.

It’s a salacious and must-read report, and I recommend you read the entire thing.

It is also an enormous embarrassment to Louisiana, a blatant usurpation of the statutory power of the Lt. Governor’s office, and regardless of Nungesser’s public apologies, it demonstrates both an enormous disrespect to Gov. John Bel Edwards, for whom Nungesser deliberately misrepresented as working under his authority and blessing, and a fundamental and damaging misunderstanding of the duties of his office.

This may not be too surprising to anyone who closely followed Nungesser’s campaign, in which he promised to deliver 60,000 new jobs to Louisiana, despite the fact that as Lt. Governor, he is in charge of tourism marketing efforts, not large-scale economic development projects involving massive shipments of foreign oil or negotiating contracts with foreign governments.

Nungesser, in letters he signed and sent to leaders of a foreign country and Secretary of State John Kerry, lied about his legal authority, lied about acting as a representative and emissary for Gov. Edwards, and even claimed that he was “the top economic development recruiter for Louisiana” in letters and at least one press release exclusively given, for some bizarre reason, to The Washington Post.

Nungesser pathetically claimed that he never really read the letters he was asked to sign on behalf of Roger Villere, whose connection to this particular deal should raise the red flags of the Justice Department and our U.S. Attorneys. Furthermore, Nungesser, perhaps even more pathetically, blamed his staff for the oversight, all while defending Roger Villere’s credibility. At the very least, this is a dereliction of duty.

Regardless of Nungesser’s half-hearted and far-too-late apology to Gov. Edwards, his actions represent gross misconduct in office and should be considered an impeachable offense.

Villere’s intimate involvement, at the very least, warrants an investigation into criminal conspiracy. 

Art. 10 §24 (A) of the Louisiana State Constitution states (emphasis added):

Impeachment

Persons Liable.  A state or district official, whether elected or appointed, shall be liable to impeachment for commission or conviction, during his term of office of a felony or for malfeasance or gross misconduct while in such office.

Make no mistake: This is gross misconduct.

An act which deliberately or willfully threatens the employer’s rules, or shows a repeated disregard for the employee’s obligations to the employer or disregards the standard of behavior which an employer has a right to expect of its employee”, constitutes gross misconduct. [Giles v. District of Columbia Dep’t of Empl. Servs., 758 A.2d 522, 525 (D.C. 2000)]

But Nungesser has little to fear. Louisiana is too busy laughing at him to worry about actually holding him accountable. “Hopefully, nothing will come of it,” Nungesser said. He’s probably right.