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Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK – Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Charlie Melancon, named by Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, speaks at a press conference, Wednesday, December 16, 2015.


Charlie Melancon resigned Wednesday as secretary of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

“Charlie and I have agreed that we should move the agency in a different direction,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said Wednesday, adding that the former congressman has been a tremendous public servant.

“This will be a time of transition for the department, but there are still positive reforms we can make to LDWF to correct the significant issues raised in the Legislative Auditor's report regarding the previous administration's mismanagement,” the governor added.

Melancon is the first cabinet secretary to leave the 11-month-old Edwards administration. He was a congressman from 2005 to 2011, representing the district covering the bayou communities of south Louisiana.

Melancon did not respond Wednesday to calls and emails seeking comment.

Melancon had ordered a “complete internal review” after an analysis by Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera raised numerous issues with millions of dollars spent during the previous administration. Auditors stated that Gulf oil spill recovery money intended for fish testing instead paid for unnecessary iPads, cameras, boats and now-missing fishing equipment, according to the Associated Press.

He also clashed with U.S. Rep. Garret Graves, R-Baton Rouge, over a congressional bill that would hand recreational red snapper management in the Gulf of Mexico to the five Gulf states.

Melancon objected, saying the legislation would put the onus of data collection on the states.

Graves countered that money is available to the states from various sources and should not be an impediment for states to begin regional management.

Graves released a statement Wednesday, saying: “We appreciate Charlie’s years of public service and wish him well in future endeavors. We also look forward to working with the new secretary to ensure Louisiana remains the Sportsman’s Paradise. The State of Louisiana has a remarkable record of sustainable wildlife and fisheries leadership. We can build upon these successes by delegating management authority over larger areas of Gulf of Mexico fisheries.”

Melancon also initiated plans to end several programs popular with recreational anglers, including reducing the number of days for fishing snapper and terminating tournaments.

At its August meeting, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission refused to approve its July minutes, saying Melancon’s executive assistant, Wendy Brogdon, hadn’t finished preparing the document. She was later placed on administrative leave.

On Dec. 9, Brogdon filed a lawsuit in 19th Judicial District Court alleging she was terminated after Melancon falsely accused her of “forgery.”

Follow Mark Ballard on Twitter, @MarkBallardCnb.