BATON ROUGE: Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards released the following statement on the latest lawsuit filed against his administration from Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry:
“Once again, the attorney general chose to alert the media before alerting my office of his intentions to pursue legal action, which leads me to believe this is nothing more than another dog and pony show from the Department of Justice. Jeff Landry is going to great lengths at the taxpayer’s expense to protect an escrow account that doesn’t belong to his department while the rest of state government is taking a spending cut. Only Jeff Landry thinks he should be shielded from any spending cuts while students are at risk of losing TOPS, while higher education is at risk of taking a cut or while lifesaving health care services are in jeopardy. The law clearly states that this money does not belong to the Department of Justice, and I am more than willing to defend that in court.”
The $3.98 million in question traces back to a 2014 pharmaceutical settlement that, under the laws at that time, should have been remitted to the treasury. According to Act 420 of the 2013 Regular Session (the funds bill) any proceeds recovered by the attorney general on behalf of the state related to any cause of action against a pharmaceutical company shall be transferred by the treasurer to the Over Collections Fund and then to the State General Fund. The previous attorney general received such a settlement, but deposited the amount in his own escrow account in 2014. Per Act 420, it should not have been deposited into the attorney general’s escrow account or used for the attorney general’s expenses.