State lawmakers gave final unanimous approval last week to a bill that would permanently bar contractors convicted of public bribery, extortion, money laundering and corrupt influencing from bidding on public contracts in the state. House Bill 1292 by Rep. Walker Hines, D-New Orleans, had 32 co-authors and no opposition.
In addition to the felony convictions enumerated above, the bill also would bar contractors convicted of nine other, lesser charges from bidding on public contracts for five years after their convictions. Hines' bill came in response to former Mayor Ray Nagin's defense of giving city contracts to a company owned by Burnell Moliere, who pleaded guilty to a federal "structuring" charge for his role in facilitating bribes paid by political operative Mose Jefferson to former Orleans School Board president Ellenese Brooks-Simms.
Nagin said he saw nothing wrong with giving city contracts to felons after they have served their sentences or probations. In fact, before he left office Nagin gave one of Moliere's companies a $2.6 million contract to build a "cultural sculpture garden" in Armstrong Park — which had to be redone several times because of shoddy workmanship and is currently in ruins. — Clancy DuBos