State Rep. Mike Johnson is wondering whether he needed to file a report disclosing some legal work he’s doing for the state.
The Benton Republican argues that the contract isn’t specifically with him.
Johnson stands to make tens of thousands of dollars as part of the legal team in a federal court lawsuit challenging state abortion clinic restrictions.
The $400,000 contract is with the Washington, D.C., law firm of Duncan PLLC, which is headed by S. Kyle Duncan. The contract lists Johnson as a co-counsel and spells out a $200 per hour rate of pay.
Johnson filed a “contract disclosure statement” with the Louisiana Board of Ethics on June 26 – after a news story about the contract.
“Please note: The contract indicated below does not include James M. Johnson or his law firm as a party. Requesting further clarification on the need for this filing,” Johnson wrote on the disclosure statement. The “M” is for Michael.
After disclosing the $400,000 value of the contract, Johnson noted: “(*NOT the value attributed to public servant filer.)”
State ethics law bans legislators and certain other officials from entering into contracts with state government. There is an exception to allow completion of contracts entered into prior to the individual taking office, as in Johnson’s case.
Another law requires disclosure of the contract in a report filed with ethics officials by May 15 each year for the activity in the prior year. Johnson missed that report.
But he did disclose receiving $12,320 in income from the state Department of Health and Hospitals in 2014 for “litigation services” when he filed a separate personal financial disclosure report.
State ethics administrator Kathleen Allen said she had not seen Johnson’s request and could not comment specifically on the situation.