The red-hot “legacy lawsuit” issue got personal on Thursday when leading environmental lawyer Don Carmouche announced the filing of an ethics complaint against Rep. Neil Abramson, D-New Orleans, author of the bill backed by oil companies. Carmouche alleges a conflict of interest by Abramson, a partner in the New Orleans law firm Liskow & Lewis, which represents Exxon and BP as defendants in legacy lawsuits. Carmouche’s complaint notes that while state court opinions have held that the Board of Ethics cannot question a lawmaker’s “speech,” that is distinguished from Abramson’s “actions” for having “personally authored five bills aimed at benefiting Liskow & Lewis and its primary clients, Exxon and BP.” A new player in the legacy fight, Republican Sen. David Vitter, quickly came to Abramson’s defense by attacking Carmouche, saying, “This intimidation tactic certainly underscores the trial lawyers’ key role in all this—just how important preserving the legacy lawsuit bonanza is to them.”
—Two years after the Gulf oil spill, Louisiana is finally in line to receive a large share of the fines to be levied on BP and other responsible parties, which could reach as high as $20 billion. The House version of a new transportation bill, passed late Wednesday, includes language inserted by Congressman Steve Scalise to direct 80% of the fine money to five affected coastal states. The same language is in the Senate bill. To help keep it there, Sen. David Vitter will be on the conference committee to write the final bill.
They said it: “I may give some out, but I’m sure not going to pay for it.” —Rep. Bernard LeBas, D-Ville Platte, author of anti-phone cramming bill, on being billed on his credit card for a website offering “love tips”
(John Maginnis publishes LaPolitics Weekly, a newsletter on Louisiana politics, at LaPolitics.com.)