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."
So far the Democratic agenda includes proposals to expand Medicaid; increase the minimum wage; offer equal pay to women; heighten regulations on predatory lending practices, like payday loans; and add more transparency in the governor’s office.
Hot-button education issues ranging from Common Core to charter schools have some lawmakers pushing to scrap the appointing process and go back to electing the state's super.
Police say the handcuffed man fatally shot himself in the back, but his family isn't buying the story.
Gov. Bobby Jindal offered a budget proposal that suggests new education and health care spending, pay raises for state workers and an incentive fund to encourage colleges to enhance their science, engineering and technology training.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Tuesday, March 11, 2014:
Hopefully he’ll be better prepared today than he was in that Feb. 20 deposition.
They came by the hundreds, arriving from all regions of the state to gather on the steps of our Capitol in protest of the Legislature’s long tradition of giving industry the go-ahead to abuse our air, our water and our coastline, all in the name of good economics.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s recent rhetoric against President Barack Obama has failed to boost his standing among the conservative base.
Louisiana's annual legislative session begins.
The state has hired marksmen to shoot feral hogs from helicopters at two wildlife management areas in south Louisiana.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.
The New Orleans Saints have yet to make it official as of this writing, but popular wide receiver Lance Moore has reportedly been cut by the team to free up salary-cap space on the roster.
While two medical marijuana bills are slated for the upcoming legislative session, what some Louisianans might not know is that the plant was approved for therapeutic use by state lawmakers in 1991.
The agenda is shaping up to be lighter than in previous years. But Jindal is term-limited, with fewer than two years remaining in office, and he saw his last big initiative — a proposed rewrite of Louisiana tax law — collapse without getting a vote in 2013.
Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?
The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.