Leslie Ricard Chambers

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry speaks with the editorial board in this February 2017 file photo.

When a senior aide to Gov. John Bel Edwards was fired over sexual harassment allegations, Attorney Gen. Jeff Landry wasn’t shy about criticizing the governor.

The hard-charging Republican attorney general, who seldom passes up a chance to pick a fight with the Democratic governor, promised he would take a hard-line stance, including firing employees, if something similar ever happened in his office.

Well, it looks like something similar has happened in Landry’s office. The head of his criminal division, Pat Magee, allegedly “engaged in inappropriate verbal conversations" that included sexual slang and "unprofessional comments regarding the appearance of employees," Landry’s office now admits.

Landry fashions himself as the state’s top lawman, but apparently his gumshoe instincts deserted him when there were sexual harassment allegations right under his nose.

But the attorney general has faced the crisis with his customary combativeness.

Not against Magee, the man who is accused of harassing civil servants in the attorney general’s office. Magee quietly returned to work last month.

Landry is going after Andrea Gallo, the reporter for The Advocate and The Times-Picayune who has been probing the whole sordid matter.

Gallo filed a public records request for the complaint against Magee and other documents related to the attorney general’s investigation of his allegedly misbehaving subordinate.

The attorney general denied her request in January, saying the matter was still being probed. But when Gallo called the office and asked for Magee, she found that he was at work.

Why was he back at his desk if the matter was still being investigated? The attorney general then admitted that the probe had indeed been concluded and Magee had been docked 38 days pay, or about $20,000.

But Landry’s office never released all of the records Gallo requested, and Friday he tried a novel legal approach to keep the details of the scandal secret – probably forever.

He filed suit against Gallo, asking a judge to issue a declaratory judgment denying her request and to seal the lawsuit itself.

Louisiana’s public records laws give all citizens, not just journalists, the right to seek documents from the governments their tax dollars support. Lots of people take advantage of the law: Activists fighting pollution, bidders who feel they were cheated out of government contracts, victims of false prosecutions.

It’s not a violation to ask for public records. It’s a fundamental right found in Article 12, Section 3 of the Louisiana Constitution.

So we can’t sit by when an elected official uses taxpayer money to sue a private citizen for seeking records about a potentially embarrassing scandal in his office.

We will fight until the truth comes out.

That’s a promise to our readers, to all of Louisiana, and to Jeff Landry.