Shreveport municipal bonds a cash cow for politically connected attorneys
On March 13, 2018, the Shreveport City Council voted unanimously to pass Resolutions 22 and 23 of 2018 (see Minutes). These resolutions authorize the City to hire professionals and then issue up to $120 million in water and sewer revenue bonds.
If you’re thinking: Wait, haven’t we done this already? You’d be right: $120 million in 2015; $108 million in 2016; $91 million in 2017. While the taxpayers will be on the hook for this debt for years to come, these municipal bonds are the gift that keeps on giving for a few connected lawyers. In this series, we will take a look at who’s on board this bond bounty and how much they are getting paid.
First up is attorney Alex Washington of Washington & Wells, Shreveport’s “co-bond counsel” for this $120 million debt offering. In the legal community, serving as local “co-counsel” generally means you’re there for political patronage only. No meaningful legal work is expected. In this case, the real bond counsel are the attorneys from Boles, Shafto & Leonard, LLC in Monroe. One would think that after at least ten years of “practicing public finance law,” Mr. Washington should be able to handle this matter on his own, thereby avoiding even more hands in the municipal bond financing cookie jar.
Based on public records requests to the City and state Bond Commission, from 2014 through 2017, documents reveal Mr. Washington has already scored over $325,000 from the City of Shreveport in supposed “co-counsel” fees. At over $80k per year (double the median salary for full-time City employees (see link)), this is by all accounts an incredible payoff, especially considering Mr. Washington maintains a full time law practice devoted to civil litigation, commercial real estate, oil and gas, personal injury, auto accidents, criminal law, and corporate/business law. Newly obtained documents from the State Bond Commission reveal that Mr. Washington is set to score his biggest bond bounty ever: a whopping $125,850.00 on this year’s upcoming water and sewer bond.
Questions abound regarding how Mr. Washington maintains his privileged position on this gravy train. We’re not sure, but campaign finance reports indicate Mr. Washington and his law partner, Shante Wells, are well acquainted with the process of making generous “donations” to local politicians. Collectively, $7,000.00 to Cedric Glover and $4,200.00 to Greg Tarver (here) seem awfully fitting.
Stay tuned for more…