Tony Tramel, the former director of traffic and transportation for Lafayette Consolidated Government, has been told to proceed with caution in his new role as a private traffic consultant lest he run afoul of state ethics law.
Tramel retired from LCG at the end of March this year and formed Tony Tramel LLC, a company that will provide traffic engineering consulting and other services. A few weeks before his retirement, Tramel sought an advisory opinion from the Louisiana Ethics Administration about whether he will be allowed to work as a primary or sub consultant on projects involving LCG. Tramel points out in a follow-up letter to Ethics that his former department was abolished as a separate entity and merged into the Department of Public Works by a vote of the City-Parish Council in September.
On Friday the Ethics Board adopted an advisory opinion by staff attorney Jennifer Land that cites Section 1121B of the Louisiana Ethics Code, which “prohibits a former public employee, for a period of two years following the termination of his public employment, from assisting another person, for compensation, in a transaction involving the agency of the former public employee, in which the public employee participated at any time during his public employment.” (A similar restriction led to ethics charges against developer Greg Gachassin and his The Cartesian Company after they went to work for the Lafayette Public Trust Financing Authority in 2009 while he was chairman of LPTFA's board and immediately after he left the board. A hearing on motions in that case is scheduled for March 13.)
However, the opinion instructs Tramel to seek further counsel from the board on a case-by-case basis due to the fact that his former department no longer exists.
“Without specifics, the board just rendered a general opinion,” says Kathleen Allen, the board’s administrator. “I can’t give you a definitive answer [about whether Tramel is barred from participating in any services involving LCG].”
The ethics code wouldn’t prohibit Tramel from working on projects outside Lafayette Parish or with private projects within the parish, but if LCG is involved, adds Allen, “it would depend on the specifics of the situation.”
Read the full advisory opinion here.