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Attorney general: Edwards’ pick for waterway board illegal

September 19, 2018

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) — Louisiana’s governor violated state law with his appointment to a state water regulatory commission, Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry said Wednesday in his latest clash with Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards.

Landry traveled to Shreveport to release a formal opinion saying Edwards’ pick for the Red River Waterways Commission is illegal and threatens to cast legal doubt on any business the board conducts.

An opinion from the attorney general doesn’t carry the force of law, but Landry, considering a run against Edwards in 2019, indicated he would consider litigation to settle the issue.

“I’m here ensuring we’re going to protect northwest Louisiana’s position on this important commission, and we’re ready to take whatever action is necessary to facilitate that,” Landry said.

The Shreveport Times reports Edwards refused to appoint Carolyn Prator to the water commission despite her nomination by local officials. Prator is married to Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator, who has panned Edwards’ criminal justice overhaul.

Instead, Edwards picked retired Col. Michael Deville of Rapides Parish for the commission position. Edwards spokesman Richard Carbo defended the governor’s choice, saying the appointment of Deville, a black man, achieved more balanced representation.

“The governor made a commitment in November 2017 to restore racial and geographic balance to this commission when a vacancy occurred, and that’s what he has done,” Carbo said.

The 11-member commission represents seven parishes: Caddo, Bossier, Red River, Natchitoches, Grant, Rapides and Avoyelles. Carbo said Deville’s selection gave Caddo and Rapides each two board seats.

Landry said state law requires the governor to make the appointment from the nominating agencies’ choice or choices.

In a statement, Carbo called Landry’s opinion a “cheap political stunt.”

“We stand by the appointment, and would encourage the attorney general to focus on the matters that fall under his jurisdiction,” Carbo said.

Landry said he entered the controversy because the Caddo Levee District and state Sens. Greg Tarver, a Shreveport Democrat, and Barrow Peacock, a Bossier City Republican, requested his opinion.

Republican U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, also considering a run against Edwards, weighed in on the commission disagreement as well, accusing Edwards last week of conducting “vendetta politics.”

But central Louisiana Sen. Jay Luneau, an Alexandria Democrat, said Edwards made the commitment to him for a Rapides appointment.

“This was strictly about evening out representation,” Luneau said. “It didn’t have anything to do with Sheriff Prator or his wife.”

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Information from: The Times, http://www.shreveporttimes.com

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