BATON ROUGE — A recent lawsuit filed by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry claims that Governor John Bel Edwards improperly withheld almost 4 million dollars the AG needs to run his office, the Department of Justice.
The $3.98 million dollars came from a 2014 settlement of a pharmaceutical case which Landry claims should have gone into an escrow account. The governor claims the money should stay in the general fund.
In an April press release, Landry said, “Despite the media’s best attempt of cloaking the emperor in bi-partisanship and compromise, the facts are clear: John Bel Edwards is a predictable and vindictive Washington-style politician more concerned with political points than the people’s business. By playing petty partisan politics, the Governor is jeopardizing the operations of the Louisiana Department of Justice.”
The press release explains what Landry feels should have happened to the money.
“When money is recovered for the State by the hard work of the Louisiana Department of Justice (LADOJ), a percentage of that money goes into an escrow account to help fund ongoing, active operations of the office – relieving a burden on the limited State General Fund. The LADOJ is approved to use these monies through the legislative appropriations process; but in order for the LADOJ to spend monies in the escrow, the funds must be re-classified to the Legal Support Fund or Self-Generated Revenue, both of which contain expenditure authority but no cash.”
On April 11th, the governor told local news station WAFB, “I was a little bit amused, I guess, that he went to the media with a statement before he ever approached me and tried to work this matter out. But I think that's to be expected from the Attorney General.”
This is not the first dispute between the Republican Landry and the governor, who is a Democrat. Last September, the governor filed a lawsuit against Landry over language in state contracts protecting LGBT workers.