Thanks to the commendable hard work of reporters at The Advocate and The Times-Picayune, Louisianans now know about the culture of sexism, harassment, and retaliation at the criminal division of the Attorney General’s Office under Pat Magee.
But there is still far too much we don’t know, due to an investigation rife with conflict and shrouded in secrecy.
When a sexual harassment complaint was filed against one of Attorney General Jeff Landry’s top appointees and personal friends, his government office hired the law firm Taylor Porter to conduct an internal investigation. As our colleague state Rep. Tanner Magee, R-Houma, noted to The Advocate, Taylor Porter “cannot have a clear lens” while investigating a state entity that regularly considers awarding Taylor Porter state contracts. More importantly, one of Landry’s top political appointees, Liz Murrill, is married to a partner at Taylor Porter, John Murrill.
It's hard to believe that one spouse's law firm being hired by the other's government office for an investigation could truly be independent. At minimum: it looks bad. Even if Taylor Porter did its best to conduct an investigation with integrity and avoid outside influence — and we trust that their lawyers did — the presence of such stark conflicts of interest makes it impossible for the people of Louisiana to have faith in their investigation.
The public still hasn’t been allowed to see that investigation, which shockingly concluded that Pat Magee hadn’t committed sexual harassment.
When Pat Magee resigned on Thursday, March 11 he said, "Let me be very clear, I did not commit — nor do I condone — sexual harassment in the workplace, or anywhere." But if he is truly innocent why does our attorney general refuse to let the public even read the Taylor Porter report?
The people of Louisiana have a right to know the details of this ugly scandal in the office charged with administering criminal justice across our state. The hardworking civil servants in the Department of Justice have a right to believe they will be heard if they are harassed at work. And our attorney general needs to start accounting for how he spends the money given to him by the taxpayers of our state.
On behalf of the public, we demand action. Attorney General Jeff Landry must release the Taylor Porter report and initiate a new, truly independent investigation.
AIMEE ADATTO FREEMAN