Ethics law prevents job promotion for cabinet secretary’s husband _lowres

Associated Press photo by MELINDA DESLATTE -- Louisiana Health and Hospitals Secretary Kathy Kliebert reviews notes before a legislative hearing in March.

Kathy Kliebert’s position as chief of the state health agency will prevent a job promotion for her husband, the Louisiana Board of Ethics advised Friday.

Kliebert’s husband, Lynn, is assistant chief financial officer of Teche Regional Medical Center in Morgan City. He’s up for the chief financial officer’s job.

But the Ethics Board said his wife’s job as secretary of the state Department of Health and Hospitals would create ethics conflicts if he moved to the CFO position.

“Since Teche Regional ... receives Medicaid payments from DHH and is licensed-regulated by DHH, Mr. Kliebert’s employment may be prohibited while his wife serves as the Secretary of DHH,” the board advised.

“In addition, with the duties and responsibilities assigned to the CFO, he would be entering into transactions with DHH,” another ethics no-no, the board said.

In an interview, Kliebert said her husband has been assistant CFO for more than 10 years. “The CFO retired suddenly ... and they wanted to offer the job to him,” she said.

“Obviously, he will not accept the position. We knew that was a possibility going in,” Kliebert said in a Friday telephone interview. “It was a natural progression, but again we thought it might be an issue.

“It is what it is. We want to make sure we are doing the right thing,” she said.

The board advisory opinion came in response to a request from DHH’s Executive Counsel Stephen Russo.

Russo wrote that Kliebert, as secretary, has recused herself from all decisions that may impact Teche Regional. He said the hospital does receive Medicaid reimbursement.

The Ethics Board cited two provisions of law.

One deals with a ban on receiving a thing of economic value, either directly or through their spouse, for services rendered to a person that has or is seeking to have a contractual or other business or financial relationship with the public servant’s agency; conducts operations or activities that are regulated by the public employee’s agency; or has substantial economic interests that may be substantially affected by the performance or nonperformance of the public employee’s official duty.

The other provision states that no public servant, or a member of such a public servant’s immediate family, or a legal entity in which he has a controlling interest shall bid on or enter into any contract, subcontract or other transaction that is under the supervision or jurisdiction of the agency of the public servant.

In other action, the Ethics Board dismissed charges against Kliebert’s brother-in-law, Galen Schum, for failure to disclose his employment by state Medicaid contractor Magellan Health Services Inc.

Ethics administrator Kathleen Allen said Schum has now filed the two disclosure reports that were required of him and been assessed a late fee of $2,500 on each report.

The ethics charges related to Schum’s failure to file required reports disclosing his relationship with Kliebert as well as the $140,000-plus in income he made as a Magellan employee.

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