St. Tammany and Washington Parish District Attorney Walter Reed is formally requesting the help of the state's legislative auditor in reviewing DA's office operations. It's a move that may have been prompted by a similar request by St. Tammany Parish President Pat Brister.
The requests follow a series of investigative reports by FOX 8 News and NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune on questionable medical reimbursements to Reed and a handful of his employees, a lucrative, previously-unknown retirement plan, and possible improper reporting of compensation to the State District Attorney Retirement System.
The DA's office released the following letter to news media Monday afternoon:
August 4, 2014
Request for Review
22'd Judicial District Attorney
Dear Mr. Purpera:
Over the past several weeks media outlets in the New Orleans area has focused attention on my office with allegations of improper expenditures in various areas regarding the operation and funding of this office. Several programs established by me in the District Attorney's Office has been scrutinized and criticized along with comments and opinions regarding my relationship with St. Tammany Parish Hospital.
I have chosen not to seek re-election after almost thirty(30) years in public office. It is important to maintain the integrity of the office and to allow for a smooth transition into a new District Attorney and administration.
I therefore request your assistance and guidance regarding the areas of my office operation being criticized along with my desire to make sure that best practices are part of the transition insofar as funding and budgetary considerations are concerned. Your help would be appreciated.
Very Truly Yours,
A few hours before the Reed letter was sent to reporters, Pres. Brister sent her own request to the legislative auditor. Citing news coverage of Reed's alleged abuses of his position, she requests that Purpera "assign emergency auditors to conduct a thorough and complete inspection of Walter Reed's office."
Brister's request also notes that the DA's office has requested "additional funds for budgetary support from Parish Government."
Her letter tells Purpera, "As Legislative Auditor, your office has a strong track record of exposing abuses and uprooting wrongdoing. As public servants, it is our responsibility to make sure any alleged corruption is exposed and the hard earned tax dollars for which we are responsible are protected."
The legislative auditor's office confirmed to FOX 8's Lee Zurik that it received the Brister letter before Reed's request. Officials have not said yet how they will respond to either request.