LSU

The Advocate file photo

Four highly-paid administrators at LSU have resigned their posts after they failed to comply with a state law that requires them to register their vehicles here and get a Louisiana driver's license, officials said Friday.

All four claimed Illinois as their primary residence, according to a a report by the LSU Office of Internal Audit.

Three of the four also spent part of their time working for LSU from Illinois, sparking controversy on whether those privileges won proper approval.

They are Andrea Ballinger, chief technology officer, $268,000 per year; Matthew Helm, assistant vice-president in information technology services, $202,085 per year; Susan Flanagin, director in information technology services, $149,000 annually; and Thomas Glenn, director of information technology services, $144,200 annually.

“They have all issued their resignations," LSU spokesman Ernie Ballard said in a statement Friday. "As it is a personnel matter, we don’t have any further updates at this time.”

The 2013 law was sponsored by then little-known state Rep. John Bel Edwards, an Amite Democrat.

The law requires that unclassified state employees who are paid more than $100,000 per year provide proof to their employer within 30 days of hiring that they have a Louisiana driver's license and that any vehicle registered in their name be registered in Louisiana.

All four started work at LSU in 2017. The audit said Ballinger was hired on March 1 of that year; Helm, Dec. 18; Flanagin, Aug. 7 and Glenn, May 1.

In addition, three of the four were provided stipends to help with moving expenses. Ballinger was paid a $20,000 relocation stipend; Helm, $15,000 and Flanagin received $5,000, the report said.

All four established residences in Baton Rouge.

"Each of the employees acknowledged not having obtained a Louisiana driver's license or registering their vehicle in Louisiana," according to the report.

"The employees explained that their primary/main residence is the state of Illinois and following Louisiana law would require them to violate Illinois state law," it says.

"When asked if they would be willing to register their vehicles in the state of Louisiana or obtain a Louisiana driver's license each employee stated they would not be willing to do so," the audit says.

Auditors also said the four officials said it was only during questioning that they learned about the state law and if they had known in advance they would never have taken jobs with LSU.

None of the four could be reached for comment.

Unclassified employees do not have civil service protection.

The report said there was also confusion on whether Ballinger, Helm and Flanagin went through proper channels when they spent part of their time working in Illinois for LSU.

Work schedules from March 1, 2017-Feb. 1, 2018 showed all three were "regularly working" from Illinois with their supervisors' approval.

However, no such documentation could be found, LSU officials wrote.

The report said earlier this year Dan Layzell, vice president for finance and administration and chief financial officer for the school said he gave Ballinger verbal approval to work remotely on a periodic basis "given her personal situation."

Ballinger said she worked remotely 23 days in 2017 and 27 days in 2018.

She also said she gave Helm and Flanagin permission to work from Illinois periodically.

Helm said he routinely worked six weeks at LSU, then a week in Illinois, according to the audit.

Flanagin told officials she worked four weeks at LSU followed by a week in Illinois.

The measure six years ago that ensnared the foursome breezed through the House 70-20 but cleared the Senate with a bare minimum 20-17, with heavy opposition from Republicans.

The year before some lawmakers were angered by the news that one of then Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal's top aides, Stafford Palmieri, was driving a car with New York license plate.

A spokesman for Jindal said the car belonged to Palmieri's father and she was borrowing it.

Palmieri was a key figure in 2012 when the governor pushed through a major overhaul of public schools, including tougher teacher tenure and evaluation rules and an expansion of state-financed tuition, called vouchers.

During Jindal's term critics complained about what they called an influx of aides from other states.


Follow Will Sentell on Twitter, @WillSentell.