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."
Local and state agents Thursday night raided The Keg, the popular college bar located in the area known as The Strip, leading to the (at least) temporary closure of the venue.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, April 18, 2014:
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Time and time again, the Lafayette Parish School Board shows an overwhelming tendency toward idiocy, but Wednesday night’s contentious discussion over Northside High School’s teen mother program tops the list of dumb discussions.
“The accomplishment of this goal within the next ten years is not only critical for the region to effectively compete with other regions for residents and businesses, but also to provide an amenity for everyone in Acadiana to enjoy.”
Education Superintendent John White says a continued push to try to keep Louisiana from using tests associated with the Common Core education standards are creating "a state of chaos" for public school teachers.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to use $210 million in surplus and one-time money to help balance next year's budget received the backing Thursday of the State Bond Commission, support that was needed for the maneuver to work.
State wildlife and fisheries agents have arrested a 39-year-old man accused of stealing crawfish.
An East Feliciana Parish lawmaker has jettisoned his proposal to make it harder for a condemned prisoner to appeal a death sentence.
Senators advanced a proposal Wednesday that would let the governor remove New Orleans-area levee board members for violating what he considers to be public policy, despite concerns it would introduce political meddling into state flood protection.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council on Tuesday will vote on a resolution that if approved would clear the way for a December ballot proposition asking voters to approve a 1-cent sales tax parishwide to help fund the construction of a new terminal at Lafayette Regional Airport.
Just days before the fourth anniversary of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and oil spill, the Coast Guard has moved cleanup of Louisiana's coast to a new phase, allowing BP to end its "active" efforts in the area.
Legislators still must leave their guns at the door of the Louisiana Capitol.
Sen. Fred Mills may have an "R" behind his name, but his actions in the Louisiana Legislature transcend the established boundaries of his party.
The Louisiana House overwhelmingly rejected a repeal of the state's unconstitutional anti-sodomy law Tuesday.
The Louisiana Senate sided with Gov. Bobby Jindal and the oil industry Tuesday, agreeing to void a lawsuit that a south Louisiana flood board filed against more than 90 oil and gas companies for coastal damage.
Acadian rep notifies would-be supporters that an April 25 fundraiser for the embattled U.S. rep won’t go on as planned.
While it isn’t all too unusual for public bodies to have hired security present during meetings, the LPSB’s push to do so is arguably a response to the antics of one board member.
“I’m running. Why would I be raising all this money? Just to have to return it to people?”
With incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu watching from afar, and with a united Democratic Party in her corner, the fight to get the GOP officially behind Congressman Bill Cassidy is gaining just as much momentum as it is hushed controversy.
15th Judicial District Judge Durwood Conque has announced that he will not seek re-election after 27 years on the bench.
The controversial standardized tests are set to be used in third-grade through eighth-grade public school classrooms next year.
The Louisiana Senate has agreed to prohibit unmanned aircraft from flying over chemical plants, water treatment systems, telecommunications networks and other items considered "critical infrastructure" in Louisiana.
It didn’t take long for KATC TV 3 to jump all over the news of a dead body found in Girard Park, but in its rush to produce headlines, the local TV station got sloppy.
An unholy trinity of civil-society upheavalers whose first names are not Conner, Tanner or Logan are facing charges in Eunice.