U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy performed the part-time teaching physician work required of him under an LSU Health Science Center arrangement, according to a newly released LSU internal audit.
But the audit report said future such work arrangements between Cassidy and LSU should be formalized, including a system for measuring performance.
During last fall’s U.S. Senate race, questions arose about whether Cassidy — then a Republican congressman representing the 6th District— was fulfilling responsibilities associated with the paid position. Documentation was lacking. Incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu called on Cassidy to produce records that showed he performed the work promised LSU for which he was drawing a paycheck.
“Although Dr. Cassidy’s effort was not adequately documented by the Health Sciences Center, sufficient facts and information exist to conclude that Dr. Cassidy provided services equal to at least that of his compensation for his part-time educational work,” according to a memo written by chief auditor Chad Brackin.
Cassidy had worked for two decades at the LSU Earl K. Long Medical Center in Baton Rouge prior to joining the U.S. House of Representatives in January 2009. He stayed on to teach part-time at LSU and was paid $20,000 a year until he left in April, when he launched his campaign to unseat Landrieu.
Brackin wrote that when Cassidy moved to a part-time basis, there was a lot of discussion about what services he would provide, his pay and level of work effort to be performed. But, he said, “It does not appear that agreed upon services were ever formalized in a written agreement or letter of assignment which would have been a better procedure.”
For the future, the auditor recommended that a formal written agreement be established between LSU and Cassidy, if both parties agree that his part-time employment “is mutually beneficial” and should continue.
“Duties and responsibilities as well as system for measuring performance of those should be formally established by written agreement,” according to Brackin’s report.
“The system should reasonably capture services provided and require certifications by Dr. Cassidy as well as that of a supervisor with knowledge of the performance taking into account the reasonable flexibility of a physician performing these types of duties in an educational context.”
In an audit response letter, Dr. Larry Hollier said he agreed with the findings.
“The corrective actions will be initiated upon indication from Dr. Cassidy that he would also like to continue the relationship,” Hollier said.
Cassidy too issued a response letter, which noted that there was “ample evidence and sufficient facts” to conclude that he did what was required and more “even when Congressional responsibilities required my presence outside of Louisiana.”
“All who were interviewed expressed satisfaction with my work and stated that it was their belief that my employment was justified and supported by the services provided,” Cassidy wrote.
“I look forward to continuing my relationship with LSUHSC pending approval from the U.S. Senate.”
Cassidy did not respond to an interview request made through his Senate office.
During Senate campaign speeches, Cassidy frequently mentioned teaching doctors. Available time records showed that Cassidy was billing LSU for work in Baton Rouge on days he also cast votes in Washington, D.C.
The timesheets showed Cassidy received the same $1,666.70 payment each month regardless of how many hours were booked. He was supposed to give “20 percent” effort, which would calculate to about eight hours a week. Most of the time records produced showed about six hours per week, sometimes less.
Because a formal tracking system was not in place, the auditor said available documentation was gathered and interviews conducted with those “with knowledge of the provisions of those services.”
“The audit found that for faculty receiving no salary supplement, such as Cassidy, timesheets are not used for payroll purposes,” according to an LSU news release. “Cassidy’s timesheets were not used to support payments made to him nor were they intended to record all of his time worked.”
“Timesheets were kept to capture work on the Our Lady of the Lake contract (with LSU), starting when the Earl K. Long (Medical Center) clinics moved in April 2013. Cassidy was found to have regularly attended clinic, and all of those interviewed believe that Cassidy fulfilled the duties related to his part-time responsibilities.”