• Swamp Watch

Hypocrisy of Parish Presidents and Their Trial Lawyer Funders

Updated: May 20

Over the last two weeks, we’ve begun to introduce you to the trial lawyers and Parish Presidents behind the lawsuits against Louisiana’s oil and gas industry. Before continuing, let’s take a quick look at what we know so far.

As we covered in our first piece, lawyers are by far the largest political funders in Louisiana, giving over $50 million across 46,000+ contributions to political and judicial candidates. The main law firm behind the lawsuits, Talbot Carmouche & Marcello, makes up a staggering $4 million of that total- just since 2012. Despite being one of the largest political spenders in Louisiana, John Carmouche has decried political spending by Louisiana’s energy industry. Carmouche’s hypocrisy doesn’t end with his massive political spending, as he’s also attacked oil & gas industry lobbyists, even though he spends between $350,000-$750,000 a year on his own lobbyists. Surely, his lobbyists don’t exist to help reclaim the $9 million his firm claims to have spent bankrolling just 2 of the 42 lawsuits they are involved in.

Carmouche’s hypocrisy extends to one of the biggest beneficiaries of his massive political spending, St. Bernard Parish President Guy McInnis. McInnis, who won his first election by just over 300 votes, has received over $30,000 in trial lawyer contributions, with more than $20,000 coming just from Carmouche and his partners. Despite his big trial lawyer money, McInnis has attacked legislators for caring about “the big bank accounts that got you elected”. McInnis may have been telling on himself a little bit, as just days after being sworn in as Parish President, he signed a potentially lucrative contract with Carmouche’s firm and two other firms who were big donors to his campaign to represent St. Bernard Parish in a lawsuit against oil & gas companies.

We also covered Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee-Sheng, who, like McInnis, benefitted from tens of thousands of dollars in trial lawyer money, particularly Carmouche’s firm, in her 2019 election. Like McInnis, Sheng has gone to bat for the lawsuits, even publicly thanking the Carmouche Talbot & Marcello law firm for their work while she was a candidate receiving contributions from the firm.

Stay tuned as we continue to look into the trial lawyers, politicians, and judges involved in Louisiana’s coastal suits later this week.