Louisiana has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars defending anti-abortion efforts led by former Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration.
New Gov. John Bel Edwards and Attorney General Jeff Landry have now agreed those cases will fall under the purview of the Attorney General’s Office, rather than handled as private contracts under the Department of Health and Hospitals.
“Going forward, DHH will not be responsible for funding outside counsel on this suit and will let the litigation run its course under the direction of the Attorney General,” Edwards said in a statement.
The move signals a shift in how the state will handle lawsuits brought against it.
The cases identified by Edwards and Landry this week include a Jindal-led effort to pull Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid funding and a lawsuit over a state law that attempted to require that doctors who perform abortions also have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. A federal judge struck down part of that law Tuesday.
The Planned Parenthood suit is being defended by Jimmy Faircloth, Jindal’s former executive counsel who received several private contracts through the administration.
Meanwhile, Jindal ally state Rep. Mike Johnson, R-Benton, was hired as co-counsel on the admitting privileges lawsuit.
As The Advocate reported, that contract has repeatedly been hiked to up to $750,000.
Under the Jindal administration, those contracts were handled through DHH, rather than the AG’s office.
“Previous governors have overreached their constitutional authority,” Landry said in a statement. “I appreciate Gov. Edwards’ recognition of the attorney general’s role over legal issues involving the state of Louisiana.”
Landry, a Republican, beat former AG Buddy Caldwell in a Nov. 21 election. He and Edwards, a Democrat who opposes abortion rights, were sworn into office Jan. 11.