"Obviously, you are making progress…?" State Mineral Board member Tom Arnold asked Assistant Attorney General Ryan Seidemann at Wednesday's board meeting in Baton Rouge.
"Yes," Seidemann confirmed – but he made clear that the AG's office has not made enough progress to give the Mineral Board a report on its investigation into oil royalties dating back to the 1930's.
Seidemann told the board, "We are taxed beyond our limit."
The AGs office asked the Mineral Board for a four-month extension.
Back in May, the Mineral Board voted for the attorney general to look into findings from a series of FOX 8 News reports that showed oil leases handed out in the 1930's by Governors James Noe and O.K. Allen. A portion of those leases then were re-directed back to the governors' company -- the Win or Lose Corporation, formed by yet another former governor, Huey Long.
Descendants of those three former governors still benefit from those leases today -- all totaled they've made more than $400 million.
Seidemann said, "I have not been alive for the duration of these issues. And so it is a learning curve."
The Mineral Board unanimously passed the resolution, giving the attorney general a four-month extension.
"The true wealth of our state was stolen by conspiracy, collusion, apparent fraud, intimidation and neglect of the public good," testified independent researcher Norman Billiot.
Billiot and co-researcher Keith Cressionnie have spent 30 years looking into the three former governors' scheme. They asked the Mineral Board to approve the extension, but also to stay on top of the attorney general.
Cressionnie told board members, "I have over 3,000 names of Louisiana citizens that wrote in and just signed the petitions and approve of what we're doing and rooting for us. So, picture 3,000 guys in here right now, you know, wanting the same answers."
" I think half of them have called me as well," acknowledged Arnold.
Cressionnie wants a fair investigation and wonders if that's happening, since two of Louisiana's most powerful politicians have taken campaign contributions from descendants who are still making the money.
The Attorney General, [Buddy] Caldwell, and Governor [Bobby] Jindal have received campaign contributions from the heirs," Cressionnie testified. "That concerns me as Joe Citizen, as to where I stand."
The AG's request gives until May to come back to the Mineral Board with a report. The AG's office could ask for additional time, because researching Win or Lose remains so complicated.
Seidemann testified, "The actual history and, more importantly from our perspective, the legal nuances and the law that applies and things like that are things that I don't know intuitively know – neither does my staff. So we're having to back up, learn and research this thing. The issues are vast. They are, if correct, significant."