The spat between Ed Quatrevaux, the New Orleans inspector general who retired last week from an office mired in controversy, and his interim replacement, Howard Schwartz, is continuing to churn, with Quatrevaux picking apart Schwartz’s account of how the office careened off course.
Quatrevaux heaped scorn on his former deputy in a statement he emailed to The Advocate on Sunday, hours after the newspaper published Schwartz’s narrative of the bizarre series of events leading up to Quatrevaux’s retirement on Thursday.
In his statement, Quatrevaux suggested, as he has before, that it was inappropriate for Schwartz to write a scathing report accusing another deputy IG of ethics problems because both deputies were theoretically competitors for the top job in the office when Quatrevaux left. Schwartz took over as interim IG on Friday.
But the former IG also acknowledged for the first time that — as Schwartz maintained — he gave Schwartz the initial OK to look into his counterpart, Nadiene Van Dyke. However, Quatrevaux said he didn’t know the investigation would turn into what he derisively called “office gossip.”
Previously, Quatrevaux had implied that Schwartz simply took it upon himself to besmirch a colleague who might challenge him for the top job.
"I authorized Schwartz to look into a complaint of racial discrimination,” Quatrevaux said. “I let him continue because I wanted to know if funds were misdirected. He repeatedly said the report was almost finished, but it went on for months before he produced an error-filled report that was all innuendo, suggesting impropriety where there was none.”
Schwartz's report cited complaints from several office employees that Van Dyke was dismissive of minorities and spoke ill of Independent Police Monitor Susan Hutson, who is black and with whom Quatrevaux feuded for years. Separately, the report accused Van Dyke of approving excessive payments to contractors of the IG's Office who were friends of hers.
The whole episode has dented Quatrevaux's reputation and credibility after an eight-year tenure largely free of such drama. The major exception was his bitter feud and eventual 2016 split with Hutson's office, which may have weakened his standing with the board that oversees his work, the Ethics Review Board.
If Schwartz's claims are correct, Van Dyke was also involved in that controversy: Hutson accuses her in the report of taking Hutson's 2012 research and presenting it as the OIG's own. Hutson said that tiff sowed the seeds for the later formal division of the two offices.
The ethics board opened a national search for Quatrevaux's replacement earlier this year, prompting him to campaign for his reappointment. But a day after the explosive Schwartz report was obtained by The Advocate — sparking Quatrevaux's fury — the IG submitted his retirement notice to the board, although it was not publicly announced at the time.
Quatrevaux's termination of Schwartz last week, months after the damning report was leaked but four days before Schwartz was due to replace Quatrevaux as IG at the ethics board's request, was seen by Schwartz and some of his supporters as retaliatory.
Quatrevaux claimed last week that he actually fired Schwartz because the deputy's report was biased. But Schwartz shot back that Quatrevaux gave him clearance to investigate Van Dyke in the first place. Moreover, Schwartz said, he had reported back to Quatrevaux after some initial digging, and Quatrevaux told him to keep going.
Last week, Quatrevaux refused to say whether he had authorized the investigation. But on Sunday, the former IG admitted giving Schwartz the green light to look into at least the discrimination claim.
It wasn't until the investigation was complete that Quatrevaux realized Schwartz's angle, he said.
"His report is nothing more than office gossip of questionable motive," Quatrevaux said.
Asked to respond to Quatrevaux's rebuttal, Schwartz referred to his earlier statements about his former boss. Schwartz has said Quatrevaux dismissed his report solely because he didn’t like its conclusions.
“I don’t think I need to reiterate that the report is accurate,” Schwartz said. "Everything is backed up by hundreds of pages of supporting documentation, and the facts speak for themselves.”
The pages Schwartz referenced were not included in the leaked copy of the report The Advocate received in July. The interim IG has not yet released those emails, saying that to do so while the report remains under review would be a violation of OIG policy.
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