Fed up with Gov. Bobby Jindal and his lack of transparency, a state Senate panel called an unusual vote Wednesday to subpoena information from the Jindal administration concerning proposed privatization of a state health insurance plan. The controversy over the secret financial analysis of the Office of Group Benefits and its $500 million surplus, prepared by New Orleans-based Chaffe & Associates, also has the attention of the national media; The Independent has obtained a public records request from political news site TPM dated June 8:

Custodian of Records

Division of Administration
P.O. Box 94095
Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9095
RE: Public Records Request

Dear Custodian of Records:

Pursuant to the Louisiana Constitution and to the provision of the Louisiana Public Records Act, I am hereby requesting access to and copies of the following documents:
1. Any and all reports prepared by Chaffe & Associates regarding the Office of Group Benefits.
2. Any and all drafts, preliminary reports, revisions, and working documents associated with any report(s) prepared by Chaffe & Associates regarding the Office of Group Benefits.
3. Any and all communications within the Division of Administration regarding any report(s) prepared by Chaffe & Associates regarding the Office of Group Benefits. 4. Any and all communications between the Division of Administration and Chaffe & Associates regarding any report(s) prepared by Chaffe & Associates regarding the Office of Group Benefits.
5. Any and all communications within the Division of Administration and between the Division of Administration and Chaffe & Associates regarding whether or not to release to the public or any other outside parties any report(s) prepared by Chaffe & Associates regarding the Office of Group Benefits.

In accordance with Section 44:32(D) of the Louisiana Public Records Act, I request a response to this request within three business days. If my request is denied in whole or part, I ask that you justify all deletions by reference to specific exemptions of the act.

I agree to pay reasonable duplication fees for the processing of this request.

Thank you for your assistance.

The request is signed by TPM reporter Eric Lach, who today filed a story on the rare legislative subpoena.

“The Chaffe report is precisely the type of information that the public and lawmakers have a right to see under the Louisiana Constitution and state law,” says TPM Managing Editor/Washington Bureau Chief David Kurtz. “With a half billion dollars at stake, this report needs to see the light of day.”

The Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee, which voted 21-0 for the resolution to seek the records, gave the administration 24 hours to comply, believing the report will shed light on how much it will cost to privatize the plan, which insures about 60,000 people. Some 150 state employees could lose their jobs if the plan is privatized.

The Office of Group Benefits provides health and life insurance to about 250,000 current and retired state workers and their families.

The Advocate reported Thursday that drama has surrounded the office since the Jindal administration proposed the privatization.

Some legislators are concerned that the privatization is an attempt to free up the office’s substantial surplus. The Jindal administration contends outsourcing will produce an upfront infusion of cash for the state as well as save money.

Earlier this year, Jindal fired the office’s chief executive officer, Tommy Teague. Teague’s replacement, Scott Kipper, recently tendered his resignation after less than two months on the job following a contentious confirmation hearing that largely focused on the report at the heart of the subpoena.

Read more here.

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