Ex-wildlife and fisheries leader defends tenure to lawmakers

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Lawmakers appeared sympathetic to the former leader of Louisiana’s Wildlife and Fisheries agency in response to an audit raising questions about the propriety of millions in spending during his tenure.

Former department secretary Robert Barham defended his performance to a legislative review panel Thursday. Barham, secretary during former Gov. Bobby Jindal’s two terms, called the audit “one of the worst points of Monday morning quarterbacking.”

The legislative auditor’s office found extensive financial problems across the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Auditors say Gulf oil spill recovery money intended for fish testing was diverted to buy unnecessary equipment. They questioned contracts and documented missing state property.

Gonzales Rep. Clay Schexnayder said Barham’s department responded to overwhelming disasters like hurricanes and an oil spill and appeared to learn from its mistakes.
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