A consultant who worked as a health insurance adviser for Jefferson Parish is facing ethics charges in connection with his wife’s work.
The Times-Picayune reports that Scott Fontenot’s consulting firm, Fontenot & Associates, was associated with Lagniappe Industries, an insurance agency co-owned by Tim Whitmer and his wife while he worked as former Parish President Aaron Broussard’s top aide.
Broussard is facing 38 federal charges in a separate payroll fraud case and Whitmer pleaded guilty in March to misprision of a felony in that case.
The newspaper reports that these ethics charges focus on his Fontenot’s wife, Eugenie, and her job working for Coventry Health Care of Louisiana.
Fontenot was first charged in May 2011 with 21 ethics violations occurring between 2006 and 2010.
Fontenot’s attorney, Jenny Jackson, called the new charges meted out by the state Board of Ethics on June 14 baseless.
“The board’s action with bringing these five charges is irresponsible and egregious,” she said.
Jackson said the new charges call Eugenie Fontenot’s salary from her work with Coventry an “impermissible thing of economic value” from which Scott Fontenot benefited while consulting for Jefferson Parish on employee health insurance packages, including some offered by Coventry.
Jackson said the charges go back to 2006 but the Fontenots didn’t marry until 2008. She added that Fontenot recommended in 2009 that Jefferson Parish drop Coventry’s coverage in favor of United Health Care and that the parish followed that advice and used United in 2009 and 2010.
The newspaper says the crux of the charges hangs on the definition of Fontenot’s former contractual role with the parish. The ethics board considers him a public employee subject to state laws, a description his attorney disputes.
Ethics Board attorney Kathleen Allen said board attorneys will be more than capable of proving the charges.