The former head of the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority faces ethics charges related to his lawyer-son’s business dealings with the agency.
The Louisiana Board of Ethics on Wednesday released conflict of interest charges against Walter Monsour, who served as president and chief executive officer of the RDA until late 2014 as well as executive director of the East Baton Rouge Community Development Entity, a related group.
The Ethics Board also charged Monsour’s son, Jordan, in connection with his representation of clients who brokered deals with the publicly funded agency.
The charges have been forwarded to the Ethics Adjudicatory Board for hearing and the assessment of “appropriate penalties.”
As reported by The Advocate last October, the Redevelopment Authority, created for slum and blight prevention, sought an Ethics Board opinion last year on the potential father-son conflict but then withdrew its request. At the time, Walter Monsour said authority staff thought sufficient protocols were in place to ensure he never had any decision-making authority over deals involving his son’s clients. Other executives of the agency would step in, he said.
Under state law, no public servant can participate in transactions involving their governmental entity in which any member of their immediate family has a substantial economic interest.
Jordan Monsour’s law firm, Butler Snow, billed clients involved in the transactions $283,561, according to ethics documents.
Monsour could have submitted a disqualification plan to the Ethics Board for its approval, but he did not, the board said. So the Ethics Board said he is considered the agency head and deemed to have participated in all transactions involving his agency, including those associated with his son.
Walter Monsour ran afoul of the law in four deals in which his son, Jordan, “had a substantial economic interest,” according to Ethics Board charges. In the deals, Jordan Monsour represented Windsor/Aughtry Company, Red Stick Hospitality, Honeywell International, Model Block LLC and Circa 1857 in their pursuit of financing through New Markets Tax Credits or the Gap Financing for Commercial Development Program.
The Ethics Board said Jordan Monsour should have filed a financial disclosure statement each year disclosing information about the transactions which occurred between 2011 and 2014.
As a result of the nondisclosure, the board found that Jordan Monsour violated the ethics law because he represented clients in transactions under the supervision or jurisdiction of his father.