On Jan. 24, Cliff Kincaid, editor of the AIM Report, the online newsletter of AIM, revealed that DuhÃ© had reported Courtney to the ethics board. On Jan.12, the board ruled that Courtney and her husband, Bob, had violated state ethics laws prohibiting state employees and their family members from doing business with the state agency where the employee works. Bob Courtney's company, Courtney Communications, was paid $46,869 by John Camp Productions Inc. to develop three documentaries.
DuhÃ© told AIM: "Just after I reported her unethical activities to the governor's executive counsel, I was fired. A thorough, hate- and profanity-filled screaming fit came first, of course. Anybody want to hear it? I've got it in MP3 now. It's 52 minutes long."
We wanted to hear it. On Jan. 26, at our request, DuhÃ© directed The Independent Weekly to a Web page with an audio MP3 file (http://www.yourfilelink.com/get.php?fid=11301). But the audio was only 16 minutes long, not the 52 minutes DuhÃ© claimed he had.
The Independent Weekly requested the entire version, but DuhÃ© would not release it. He wrote in an e-mail: "As I'm sure you can appreciate, there are future legal options available to me in this matter." When AIM's Kincaid was asked if he had heard the entire version or the shorter one, he responded: "I heard so much I was sickened by it. I didn't time it."
Before Kincaid named DuhÃ© as the whistleblower, AIM had called for a federal investigation into whether Courtney should remain on the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The organization has also supported the controversial efforts of former Corporation for Public Broadcasting Chairman Kenneth Tomlinson to infuse more conservative views into CPB's programming. Tomlinson resigned from his post in November after it was revealed that he had hired an outside consultant to monitor the political content of public broadcast programs, without the CPB board's knowledge.
In the 16 minutes of audio that DuhÃ© provided, the nature of the meeting is unclear. What is clear is that DuhÃ© gets a caustic lecture from Courtney for not covering a story he was assigned to do. DuhÃ© talks very little, but Courtney's yelling and profanity is heard loud and clear. Courtney declined to comment on the recording.
DuhÃ© told The Advocate that the recording was made in 2004 shortly before he was fired. He told AIM Report that the confrontation with Courtney was over his refusal "to produce a story on a business I suspected was a client of Bob's."
At one point in the recording, Courtney says, "Nobody said go make somebody look good. We said do something on the economy, maybe Bass Pro, because it's 5,000 f--king stories. I don't care about Bass Pro. Do something on the economy ' the number one issue ' not streetcars. Do you understand that? The economy, not streetcars! West Nile virus, serial killers, not people making art out of matchsticks! If you don't want to do that, and you're not good at it, since you don't want to or you're pouting â?¦ because [sarcastically] it's unethical for management to have a conversation with you about doing a story on the economy. Are you crazy, Jeff? I have no vested interest in Bass ' I don't give a f--k about Bass Pro. I said that it's a news story that's of interest in north Louisiana."
At another juncture, Courtney tells DuhÃ©, "I'm just a straightforward person, Jeff. And I tell you exactly what I think, and I'm sorry when I hurt people's feeling sometimes, but I'm not a weasel, and I don't pout."
Courtney later adds: "Have you lost all sense of proportion? â?¦ You work for us. â?¦ Do you have any idea that if you worked for another television [station], your ass would have been fired about 15 times? I happen to like you, oddly enough. I happen to admire your talent, strangely enough. I'm appalled by your immature behavior. You're a grown man who has plenty of talent, who doesn't need to act childish."
At the end of the recording, DuhÃ© says he didn't cover two different stories because he felt there was "management interference" in the content of his program. He adds, "I thought one of the more polite ways to do it was to, you know, not do the story, rather than simply refusing and being rude in any way to you."
The day after DuhÃ© provided a copy of the recording to The Independent Weekly, Louisiana news Web site The Dead Pelican posted the audio online. DuhÃ© seemed to be sticking to his initial pledge to provide the audio to anyone who wanted to hear it, but that's not what he later told The Advocate. The paper reported, "DuhÃ© said Friday that he did not provide the recording to The Dead Pelican or any other Web site. He said he did share the recording with friends and with the Louisiana Educational Television Authority which oversees LPB."
Despite his earlier willingness to share the recording ' and essentially tell his side of the story ' DuhÃ© isn't talking much now. "Right now, I may have said enough," he says via e-mail. "However, I will say the tape recorder was in plain sight and there are witnesses to that fact." On the recording, DuhÃ©'s voice is quite prominent, and it sounds as if Courtney is on the other side of the room, leaving questions as to whether Courtney knew she was being recording during the meeting. And since he won't release the full 52-minute version, it's also unclear how it was edited down to the 16-minute version.
"Believe it or not, I'm tired of the whole affair," DuhÃ© adds. "I would have let it go a year and a half ago if she hadn't waged an aggressive war of slander against me. That's what drove me to report her to the Ethics Board and the Legislative Auditor. In the past two weeks, I have learned that she is trying to slander someone else who is entirely innocent and undeserving of her abuse. That's what got me mad enough to talk to AIM and has brought it all up again. The [Louisiana Educational Television Authority] Board is looking into it, and so is CPB."
State Legislative Auditor Steve Theriot says his agency's findings will be made public later this month. Michael Levy, a CPB spokesman, confirms there is an independent investigation under way as to whether Courtney violated CPB ethics.
On Friday, the LETA board sent a letter to LPB employees stating that it had formed a committee that examined DuhÃ©'s claims and "found no basis to support the allegations." It also added: "Mr. DuhÃ©'s termination of employment from LPB was not retaliatory."
Will $400 be enough for the re-election campaign of LPSB's Hunter Beasley to overcome two years of holding our school system hostage and hurting the education of our children all because of a personal dislike of the superintendent?
Saints tight end Jimmy Graham said Friday he expects his playing status in Detroit to be decided by coach Sean Payton on Sunday, shortly before the game.
Lawmakers have sidestepped a decision on whether they accept claims from Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration that the state closed last year's books with a nearly $179 million surplus.
Coming off the high of a fourth quarter comeback against Tampa Bay and a helpful bye week, linebacker Junior Galette sees a real turnaround coming for New Orleans' struggling defense.
Former President Bill Clinton, the Democratic Party's most popular surrogate this fall, is heading to Louisiana early next week for a campaign rally with U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu.
Time and again you hear people say DA Mike Harson is unbeatable because he's doled out political favors over the past 20 years. But a new lawsuit could end that speculation.
Cat 4 storm heads for Bermuda; travel ban called counter-productive; comet approaches Mars and more national and international news for Friday, October 17, 2014.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
After the season's signature win (so far), here are some helpful tips for Cajun Nation during the conference stretch.
Did the state close last year's books with a surplus or a deficit?
Practicing without limitations on Wednesday, running back Mark Ingram looked ready to return to a New Orleans offense that once again ranks among the NFL's best when the Saints play at Detroit on Sunday.
It’s been decided: Superintendents of Louisiana’s public school system will retain the controversial powers granted by Act 1 of the 2012 session.
Louisiana Treasurer John Kennedy has a bone to pick with the Jindal administration, which recently — surprise! — announced that the state ended the most recent budget year with a $178.5 million dollar surplus.
The messaging battle, however, isn't tied to individual campaign accounts. Third-party groups have poured millions of dollars into advertising.
With her political future in jeopardy, Sen. Mary Landrieu is turning to a natural constituent base in her re-election bid.
Terrance Broadway threw for a touchdown and rushed for 113 yards to lead Louisiana-Lafayette to a 34-10 victory over Texas State on Tuesday night.
Aligned with the party of an unpopular president, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu sought to keep her distance from the Obama administration, against claims from her chief Republican challenger Bill Cassidy that a vote to re-elect the Democratic incumbent was a vote for Barack Obama.
Seven people in Louisiana and two others in Mississippi have been arrested in connection with an international online sales scam.
Despite the hype and potential misinformation to have spread in the wake of Mark Cockerham’s recent departure from the LPSB, his candidacy for reelection is still on — now with the backing of the Chamber's Empower PAC.
No, seriously, the state says today cops nabbed seven people suspected of being “members and affiliates of Romanian organized crime.” In Lafayette.
LSU’s all-time leading rusher and three-time Super Bowl champion Kevin Faulk, UL Lafayette great and Super Bowl quarterback Jake Delhomme and coaching legend Yvette Girouard will be enshrined next summer.
Severe storms that moved across Louisiana caused widespread damage and power outages.
A dispute over the Common Core education standards won't sideline Louisiana's application for up to $15 million in federal grant money for pre-kindergarten programs, Gov. Bobby Jindal decided Monday.
The three main contenders in Louisiana's U.S. Senate race are squaring off in a TV debate for the first time, with only three weeks to go until Election Day.
A state judge signed an order Monday temporarily blocking ash from the incineration of a Texas Ebola victim's belongings to be disposed of at a southwest Louisiana site.