State Rep. and mayoral candidate Patrick Williams says it is not his fault that he double-billed his expenses as a state legislator – getting reimbursed by both his campaign account and the taxpayers.
The word has been out for a while about his double-billing in The Times, here in the Fax-Net, and on websites, but KTBS-TV put an exclamation point to the situation with its investigative report on Sunday night.
Michael Wainwright, a former Shreveport attorney who was also a former assistant U.S. attorney, first brought Williams’ double-dipping activities to light. His investigation alleges that in the two years he looked at, Williams double-dipped to the tune of $8,000.
KTBS looked only at 2012 and determined that, for that year, he double-dipped 45 times for $4,021.88. The details can be found at KTBS.com.
Williams blames an assistant for the illegal activities and says that he has now hired an accountant. But as one politico said, “It’s hard to blame an assistant for habitual double-dipping. He was getting the checks and cashing them.”
What damage this revelation does to the Williams campaign for mayor remains to be seen. But one thing is for sure. His campaign gurus are in full damage control mode. The word is that they fired a Lafayette political consultant and hired a Florida consulting firm.
With the KTBS-TV report, the Williams double-dipping episode will likely explode. It brings to mind the double-dipping of Walter Lee, the former DeSoto Parish School Superintendent and BESE board member.
Lee was indicted in January on two counts of felony theft, one count of public contract fraud, and one count of malfeasance in office. DeSoto Parish District Attorney Richard Johnson said Lee faces up to 17 years in prison and $12,000 in fines if found guilty.
Another state legislator, Rep. Joe Harrison, R-Gray, is being investigated by the FBI for double-dipping on his legislative expenses. A grand jury is also looking at Harrison’s finances.
The investigative findings on Williams was presented to Caddo District Attorney Charles Scott, but he has recused himself because he is a friend of Williams. Scott has turned over the evidence to the Louisiana Attorney General.
Also in possession of the findings are the U.S. Attorney’s Office, East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney, and the Louisiana Legislative Auditor.
But now that the double-dipping situation surrounding Williams has gotten high-profile, statewide publicity, it will be hard for authorities to ignore it.
But one thing is for sure. There is more to come involving Williams and his financial activities. There are rumors that loans he had with the city of Shreveport and the Housing Authority are also being scrutinized.