BATON ROUGE (AP) — A public records dispute between legislative auditors and the Louisiana Department of Insurance heads to the courtroom on Tuesday, though the hearing isn’t expected to resolve the yearlong disagreement over auditors’ access to e-mails.
Legislative Auditor Steve Theriot is investigating possible wrongdoing, including price-fixing, at the state-backed Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corp. His auditors want access to about 13 million e-mail messages involving Citizens and Donelon’s agency.
Tuesday’s court hearing is related to Donelon’s refusal to release about 2,000 of the messages. Without release of the materials by this weekend, DOI will be in violation of state law that requires that legislative auditors have access to state agencies’ books and other materials. Donelon wants District Court Judge Todd Hernandez to support an injunction that would instruct the state treasurer and the Division of Administration to keep state money flowing into Donelon’s agency.
If the judge rules against Donelon, the agency will be out of compliance with his office on Jan. 31, then face a possible cut-off of funding, Theriot said.
It’s not clear how the larger e-mail dispute could be resolved, however. Donelon and Theriot floated several possible compromises on Monday, while testifying before the Legislative Audit Advisory Council, the panel of lawmakers that oversees Theriot’s office. Donelon said the best resolution might come from a lawsuit.
Several lawmakers on the panel said they were getting impatient.
“Members of the Legislature want to get this done, to get it resolved,” said Sen. Ed Murray, D-New Orleans.