New Orleans — Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera is suing to force St. Tammany Parish Coroner Peter Galvan to produce staff emails that the auditor sought by legislative subpoena April 15.
A motion, filed in 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge on Friday, also asks that Galvan be required to appear in court to show why he should not be held in contempt for refusing to obey the legislative subpoena.
Galvan, whose office has fallen under public scrutiny over spending issues, refused in February to provide documents sought by the St. Tammany Parish Council. Last month, the council passed a resolution asking him to step down. The council also passed one resolution asking the coroner to return money from accumulated leave and another asking the state Attorney General’s Office to help get documents from the coroner that the parish needs to determine the minimum revenue required to efficiently operate the office.
The Legislative Auditor’s Office, which is investigating the Coroner’s Office, asked for all email records by or between six employees of the Coroner’s Office: Galvan,Michael DeFatta, Melanie Comeaux, Kim Kelly, Mark Lombard and Rebecca Caminta.
The motion filed Friday cites state law that gives the auditor subpoena authority.
“These emails, created by public employees on public equipment, are subject to review by the Legislative Auditor pursuant to various provisions of the Audit Law,” it reads in part.
“Galvan has refused to provide the email, according to the motion, alleging that the documents sought are confidential, privileged or protected by federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act laws.”
The motion notes that state law granting authority to the legislative auditor applies to records “whether confidential or otherwise,” although the office is required to comply with restrictions imposed by law on information that is furnished to the auditor.
It also asks that Galvan be required to pay attorney fees.
The Coroner’s Office is taking its own legal measures to fight the subpoena. According to the auditor’s motion, the St. Tammany Parish Coroner’s Office has asked a judge in the 22nd Judicial District Court in St. Tammany Parish to quash the subpoena or place the record under seal. A hearing on that matter is set for May 8.