NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Descendants of Huey Long continue to collect millions of dollars from Louisiana oil leases as two state residents search for an attorney to stop that flow of money.
"That's a huge amount of money," says researcher Keith Cressionnie.
Cressionnie and Norman Billiot have spent the past year, searching for a legal team.
"We haven't stopped trying to get a law firm to represent us," Cressionnie says. "You know, it's been very hard."
They've told their story to a number of law firms, and even tried to show some of our reports that revealed oil leases were handed out in the 1930's by governors James Noe and O.K. Allen. A portion of those leases were then re-directed back to the governors' company, the Win or Lose Corporation, which was formed by Noe, Allen and another governor, Huey P. Long.
Descendants of the three former governors still benefit from those leases today. Factoring in inflation, they've earned more than $1 billion.
"They hold me for two, two and a half months," Cressionnie recalls. "I long-haul them stuff. And even the attorneys here, I got signed, confidentiality statements, whatever. I spill my guts out and two, two and a half months to no avail."
The attorney general's office said last year that the state had no legal way to get out of the leases, but a Louisiana resident might be able to take up the fight.
"Yes, a private party can bring such an action," said Asst. Attorney General Ryan Seidemann in testimony to the State Mineral Board in October 2013. "The courts have said that that is acceptable and viable."
Cressionnie says he's met with a handful of attorneys. The problem, he says, is that small firms don't have the resources or the time required for such a sweeping case. And he says most of the bigger firms, in some way, do work for the state or for some of the Win or Lose heirs, so they're barred from taking the case by conflicts of interest.
"It is frustrating that no one will get aboard, once so much is spilled to them," Cressionnie says. "I mean, they know. They know that we have a case. It's just the power… I guess [they're] afraid to go against [it].
Cressionnie remains hopeful an attorney will take on the case to help redirect millions of dollars a year from descendants of the three former governors to taxpayers who, he says, deserve a fair share of these oil royalties.
"I haven't quit on this," Cressionnie insists. "That's what I want the citizens to know, that we haven't stopped. I'm getting phone calls from Los Angeles, Texas… people wanting to know what's going on. I can't tell them, you know, because I can't get a law firm. Is that me? Do I look that bad? I mean, I don't know what else to say."
But no law firms have told him he doesn't have a case, he says. "They're just afraid to take the case," he says.