The Louisiana Board of Ethics found the Lafayette Parish School Board’s former insurance consultant violated ethics laws by offering a board member tickets to a Saints game while conducting business with the School Board.
The Ethics Board filed a charge against Rina Tikia, owner of Tikia Consulting Group, on Jan. 15 for giving then-board member Mark Cockerham two tickets to the Nov. 17, 2013, New Orleans Saints game against the San Francisco 49ers. The face value of the tickets was $300 apiece.
The Ethics Board’s decision was not released publicly until Tuesday. The charges were referred to the ethics adjudicatory board to conduct a hearing and determine any penalties. Efforts to reach Tikia late Tuesday afternoon at her office were unsuccessful.
Cockerham, who is no longer on the School Board, had admitted publicly to receiving the tickets and said he attempted to return them. Former board member Shelton Cobb also had said he was offered tickets but refused them. In December 2014, some School Board members admitted they were questioned by the FBI in March 2014 about Tikia’s offers of Saints tickets after then-board member Kermit Bouillion submitted an old legal bill that showed he hired an attorney to accompany him to the interview. At the time, a local FBI spokeswoman would not confirm whether there was or had been any investigation related to the board or Tikia.
Tikia Consulting Group was hired by the School Board in 2013 to vet proposals and recommend an administrator for the school system’s health insurance program. At the time Tikia offered Cockerham the tickets, her company “had or was seeking a contractual and business relationship with the Lafayette Parish School Board,” Ethics Board attorneys wrote.
The School Board was continuing contract negotiations with Tikia, but fired her as a consultant on Dec. 31, 2013. In early 2014, Tikia, through an attorney, threatened litigation against the School Board, but she has not filed a lawsuit.
Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.