The Louisiana Public Provider Fee has supplied $220,000 really worth of government contracts to a advisor with professional and personalized connections to 1 of its commissioners, even after the consultant’s law license was suspended in 2019.
The commission awarded Scott McQuaig two contracts in 2020 well worth virtually $180,000 whole for consulting operate on 5G utility pole attachments and cybersecurity problems. It also awarded him a 3rd agreement truly worth $44,000 in December to seek advice from on electric vehicle charging stations.
The former law firm, less than his consulting organization the McQ Team, won’t be performing as an attorney for the commission, however his most up-to-date deal perform contains “research of authorized and policy issues” on irrespective of whether the charging stations should really be less than the commission’s jurisdiction. It may possibly also entail drafting of proposed state regulations. McQuaig was the only human being who submitted a bid for the consulting do the job awarded in December.
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“The McQ Group will be doing the job with in-household lawful Team on this investigation but would not be building a jurisdictional resolve,” Colby Cook, the commission’s push secretary, stated in an e-mail. “Staff has also not dominated out the likelihood of retaining outside the house counsel dependent on the breadth of the first exploration.”
Before McQuaig ran into problems with his regulation license, the General public Provider Commission had been applying him to do legal perform. He won two fee contracts in 2013 worth a lot more than $350,000 whole to serve as outdoors counsel to aid the fee build ideal procedures for disaster preparing and to support build regulations and polices for prison telephone systems, according to commission information.
McQuaig is a former private-damage attorney from Metairie whose regulation license was suspended on March 6, 2019, according to a Louisiana Supreme Court ruling. According to a report by the Louisiana File, a lawful journal that covers the state’s justice process, his suspension arrived additional than a few several years following a former client accused him of misappropriating settlement funds.
McQuaig could not be arrived at for comment at his listed cellular phone numbers, e mail or business addresses. The cellular phone quantity on his company’s letterhead, which he used recently to post the bid for the electric powered car or truck charging stations deal, is no more time in services.
Commissioner Eric Skrmetta (R-Metairie), who voted in favor on each individual of the 5 contracts supplied to McQuaig because 2013, has particular and qualified connections to McQuaig — a point that drew heated exchanges from other commissioners as McQuaig’s the latest bid was getting regarded for approval at the Dec. 14 assembly.
Skrmetta, also a Metairie lawyer, co-started two nonprofit corporations with McQuaig, as perfectly as the political corporation Jefferson Alliance for Fantastic Government, in accordance to organization filings with the Louisiana Secretary of State’s Workplace.
The pair have also executed authorized solutions for every other. In 2016, McQuaig labored as Skrmetta’s notary in the institution of a have confidence in fund for Skrmetta’s children, according to information with the Jefferson Parish Clerk of Court’s place of work. Prior to his 2008 election to the fee, Skrmetta labored as McQuaig’s legal professional in numerous civil matters.
Commissioners Lambert Boissiere and Foster Campbell, the two Democrats on the board, planned to query McQuaig during the Dec. 14 community assembly in an exertion to identify regardless of whether his romance with Skrmetta posed any ethical or money conflicts of fascination, but McQuaig abruptly left the conference before they had been able to simply call upon him to testify.
Skrmetta then gave a prolonged speech defending his romance with McQuaig and repudiating the conflict of interest allegations as a “political assault.” He denied acquiring any conflicts and claimed his nonprofit perform with McQuaig all went unpaid. He then challenged Commissioner Campbell to “go toe-to-toe” and reported he would answer any questions on behalf of McQuaig.
The subsequent working day, Dec. 15, Campbell wrote a letter to Chairman Craig Greene inquiring him to call for a rehearing on the issue, stating Skrmetta should not have been authorized to give an uninterrupted speech on McQuaig’s behalf.
“In Mr. McQuaig’s absence, Commissioner Skrmetta took the unusual stage of giving to solution for Mr. McQuaig, heading so significantly as to characterize as ‘nonsense’ the thoughts which a greater part of commissioners, which includes you, experienced lifted in November,” Campbell wrote. “He spoke for 5 minutes, loudly dismissing the conflict issues, and you cut me off immediately after one particular moment of response.”
Skrmetta did not answer to recurring requests for comment.