Former La. Senator Sues Attorney General In Contract Dispute

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A former Louisiana state senator is suing Attorney General Jeff Landry for refusing to approve his contract extension, calling it an "obvious abuse" of office and a violation of state law.

Larry Bankston is seeking renewal of his contract as legal counsel for the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors, a post he's held since February 2016. The Advocate reported Thursday that the lawsuit asks that Landry be ordered to approve the contract.

The lawsuit says the renewal paperwork was sent to Landry's office in May 2017. The lawsuit accuses the attorney general of disobeying state law by failing to offer a written reason why he has not approved the contract to extend Bankston's agreement until the end of the year.

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"I do not understand this lack of attention to duty," said lawyer Mary Olive Pierson, who is representing Bankston.

Landry's office didn't immediately respond to a request for comment about the lawsuit.

This isn't the first conflict about Bankston's hiring.

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Landry, a Republican, raised concerns in 2016 to Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards' administration, questioning why Bankston, a convicted felon, should serve as legal counsel for the board of contractors, whose members are appointed by the governor.

The Edwards administration accused Landry of playing politics.

Bankston, a Democrat, served 41 months in prison for a 1997 conviction on a video poker-related bribery scheme. He was disbarred in 2002, but the state Supreme Court voted in 2004 to allow him to resume practicing law.

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