Brister tells WWL First News she has requested that Caldwell's office step in and investigate Coroner Dr. Peter Galvan after the parish DA recused his office from the matter.
Recent reports have surfaced raising questions about possibly improper lavish spending by the office, as well as allegedly improper reimbursement for vacation and sick days.
Brister said her office made a public-records request of the Coroner for timesheets, but says she has not yet heard back from him.
"I think when the payroll information came out that he was out of the country and still not charging for vacation time, I think it took it to a new level," Brister told us.
Listen to our interview with Brister about the alleged problems at the Coroner's office:
The full news release from Brister's office follows:
In light of the investigative reports of alleged malfeasance in the St. Tammany Parish Coroner’s Office, Parish President Pat Brister is calling for the Louisiana State Attorney General to investigate. In addition, the Parish Government has begun its own examination of the records and is compiling documents that relate to the Coroner’s office, and by making a formal records request for the leave policy and timesheets of the Coroner.
“Government should work with efficiency and effectiveness, and there is no place for a public servant that goes down the road of abuse and squander,” said Pat Brister. “I have spent a career standing up for what’s right and against those that would want to misuse hard-earned tax dollars. This is why I feel it is vitally important that we get the truth.”
The records request letter references the 2007 law passed by the Louisiana State Legislature that allows the Parish Coroner to have control of his budget and limited the oversight of the Council and Parish Government. The letter also formally requests public information and states, “while LA R.S. 13:5724 states that all funds in excess of that required to satisfy the debt are to be sent directly to the Coroner, the tax still remains a ‘parish tax’ and it is our belief that the parish has a fiduciary responsibility to investigate any and all allegations regarding the possible misuse of tax dollars.”
As in many public trust investigations, it was necessary that the 22nd Judicial District Attorney’s office recuse themselves. With this recusal the Parish President made contact with the State Attorney General’s office to further the investigation and assure the citizens of St. Tammany that due process will be followed.
“As I have said previously, we all have our own personal feelings about the allegations, but the people of St. Tammany Parish elected the Coroner, not the Administration or Council. But the public trust should never be taken lightly or abused, much less completely disregarded,” said Brister. “I strongly encourage the Coroner to cooperate fully with all investigations.”
The Parish President went on to say that she will continue to support and assist in any and all investigations.