Gov. Bobby Jindal today nominated Department of Natural Resources Secretary Scott Angelle to serve as interim lieutenant governor after Mitch Landrieu becomes mayor of New Orleans May 3. Angelle, a Democrat who has toyed with the idea of switching parties, will have to be confirmed by a majority vote of the House and Senate before he can assume the post. At that time, he will step down temporarily from DNR but will continue in his current part-time role as legislative liaison for the governor’s office.
Landrieu’s permanent replacement will be chosen by voters in a special election Oct. 2; if necessary, a runoff election would take place in November. Angelle has agreed not to run for the statewide office, which the governor said was a condition for any nominee.
The interim appointment comes at a time when Jindal is proposing to abolish the position of lieutenant governor, which would require a constitutional amendment and a 2/3 vote of both houses of the Legislature. If he’s successful, voters would have the final say on the abolishment this fall, at the same time they go to the booth to elect Landrieu’s replacement.
The governor has named Robert Harper as acting secretary of DNR. Angelle plans to return to the agency once his tenure as lieutenant governor is over. Harper currently serves as undersecretary at DNR.
In other breaking DNR news, an attorney today filed a writ against the agency, demanding that it turn over all documents it has regarding the purchase of generators after Hurricane Gustav, according to Baton Rouge’s Daily Report. “Stephen Babcock’s filing today is related to a suit he filed last year on behalf of Generator Supercenter, which has offices in Baton Rouge. According to the suit, the state had a contract to buy 68 generators after the hurricane from Generator Supercenter,” notes Daily Report. Babcock contends the state is refusing to pay $3.2 million for generators it delivered and claims DNR has turned over less than 10 e-mails regarding the generator purchases. He charges the agency with “hiding behind feigned confusion” to avoid releasing embarrassing correspondence.