NEW ORLEANS — Within a week of assuming office in January, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry began making drastic changes to his office and winning over the likes of former state representative and senator Bernard J. Bagert Jr., who is now practicing law in New Orleans.
“Kudos to new Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry," Bagert said in a letter he wrote to the New Orleans Advocate that was published on Feb. 22. "In one week, he has set an example for all Louisiana officials who run their offices with public funds."
One of the new changes implemented by Landry is a policy that prohibits any lawyers from the AG's office from working on any private business while on taxpayers' time. He also saved taxpayers nearly $340,000 when he chose to move some of his office space from downtown to unused office space previously leased from Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson as part of a deal to keep the NFL team in New Orleans.
“It’s a no-brainer,” Bagert recently told the Louisiana Record. “Really nice free office space they can use.”
The space isn't exactly "free" since the state has been paying rent on it since 2009. But it remained unused under former Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, who insisted the space would not meet the needs of his staff.
“It is infuriating that Mr. Landry’s predecessor used state funds to pay for expensive office space when equivalent free space was available," Bagert said in his letter to the Advocate. "Mr. Landry deserves credit for seizing this opportunity to eliminate waste."
Bagert hopes others who hold public office in the state will make similar changes, and is hopeful about the future of Louisiana after seeing Landry in action for the first few weeks of his time in office.
“He’s asked for help from a lot of knowledgeable people who don’t need a job or want a job; people like retired judges, experienced lawyers. " Bagert told the Louisiana Record. "So that’s a good sign."