Sharon Kleinpeter, a spokeswoman for Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, says her office has solved the Richard Becker/LPTFA email mystery.
Last week the office confirmed receipt of an email from attorney Richard Becker, who has requested an opinion on whether documents on the partnership formed to develop Cypress Trails Apartments are a matter of public record.
On behalf of the LPTFA, which is spearheading the north Lafayette low-income apartment development, Becker wrote a letter March 14 to the AG for an opinion on the issue, provided the paper with a copy, and said he mailed it. The LPTFA board had passed a resolution March 10 directing Becker to seek the opinion in connection with The Independent asking for information on the partnership. In reporting the cover story, “How Gachassin Games the System,” we requested records on the individuals involved in the 72-unit apartment complex under way at Moss and Sophie streets. We also put in a public records request for a copy of the development consulting contract with Greg Gachassin, a former LPTFA board member. The $10 million project is being funded in large part with low-income housing tax credits awarded to the LPTFA by the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency.
The AG’s office didn’t receive the mailed request, so Becker agreed to email it. However, in a series of follow-up inquiries with the AG’s office — along with an unsuccessful attempt to reach Becker for clarification — The Independent was told the request still had not been received. The paper put in another call to Becker last Wednesday, who returned our call this time and assured us he had sent the email. He emailed it again April 27 and the AG's office quickly confirmed receipt.
Monday morning, Kleinpeter wrote the following in an email to the paper and copied Becker’s office:
I would like to give you an update on the Opinion Request we’ve been discussing. On Thursday, April 28th, I received an email from Mr. Talbot Ottinger of the Becker & Hebert Law Firm, informing me that their IT consultant (Mike Smith) was asked to analyze their computer system to determine if the resending of the Opinion Request on April 21st had actually been sent. Mr. Smith forwarded the computer data to our IT Manager for review.
The Louisiana Department of Justice did receive the email from Mr. Becker on April 21st. However, our security system then quarantined the email; consequently Ms. Boyce never received it. I hope this information clears up the confusion.
BTW, the AG’s office offered no new information on the original request, dated April 14 and sent via U.S. mail, according to Becker, which has yet to show up.