UPDATE: The Daily Advertiser reported Aug. 22 that M-P Josh Guillory withdrew from the expungement case first reported by The Current. Read that story here.
Side Hustle: This is the second in a two-part investigation into the mayor-president’s attempts to earn additional income while in office. Read Part 1 here.
While he wrapped up rehab, Mayor-President Josh Guillory found time to do legal work for a client. He filed an expungement motion for a woman’s 2014 marijuana arrest, according to court records from Thursday, Aug. 11, said to be both his final day of treatment for alcoholism and PTSD and the date of his return to Lafayette.
Handling a misdemeanor possession expungement should be an easy case, local lawyers say, and would also mean easy money. Quietly continuing to practice law contradicts Guillory’s public statements that he was winding down outstanding legal work in 2020 to focus on the public’s business.
The mayor-president has gone to great lengths to supplement an income he feared would be inadequate upon taking office, according to public filings and interviews with people familiar with the mayor-president’s efforts to find additional work. Since his election, Guillory has taught classes at UL, formed at least three LLCs and obtained a license to produce title insurance, on top of processing expungements for clients. The city-parish charter prohibits the mayor-president from outside employment that would interfere with his official duties.
As a whole, these side hustles take away from the time he can serve the public and present the potential for conflicts of interest, and it’s an unusual pattern for an elected official of his stature.
Guillory has broadly swatted aside allegations of unethical behavior, saying he’s done nothing wrong and has not let personal financial interest or campaign contributions influence his public work.
“Everything must be lawful and ethical, so maybe if I wasn’t as ethical or whatnot, then maybe we’d be millionaires,” Guillory said at his first press conference since his purported return from rehab the night of Aug. 11. “But, you know, I still mow my own grass.”
Open to work
As a candidate and even after taking office, Josh Guillory confided to friends, supporters and other local officials that the job’s $120,000 annual pay was not sufficient to support his family’s financial needs.
Almost as soon as he was elected, he sought to secure board seats that would pay him, an effort that does not appear to have materialized, according to sources who had direct conversations with the mayor-president and asked for anonymity out of fear of retaliation.
Do other mayors work on the side?
- Joel Robideaux (M-P; 2016-2019) retired from public accounting during his first year in office
- Joey Durel (M-P; 2004-2015) sold his pet shop business in 2003, shortly after his election
- Jan-Scott Richard in Scott (pop. 8,800) owns a restaurant
- Ray Bourque in Broussard (pop. 12,000) owns a print shop
- Ken Ritter in Youngsville (pop. 14,000) owns three fitness franchises that are run by staff
- Glenn Brasseaux in Carencro (pop. 11,000) has not held a private sector job since taking office in 2003
Lafayette Parish Population: 240,000
Guillory was non-committal when asked during the campaign if he would continue practicing law, and he caught heat for creating a family law practice right after taking office. Under scrutiny, he abandoned the plan, publicly committing to wrapping up his work as attorney.
Later that year, Guillory was, for the first time, licensed as a title insurance producer, which allows him to insure property transactions and issue title insurance policies, Louisiana Department of Insurance records show. It’s unclear whether he’s used that license to earn income.
Since August 2020, he’s earned $15,800 on UL’s payroll, often with his LCG-funded security detail in tow. He typically teaches one or two courses per semester, and in the fall of 2020 taught a course from 9 a.m. to 9:50 a.m., three days a week. The paperwork Guillory fills out for the UL teaching gig lists him as a part-time adjunct instructor spending 20 percent of his time at UL for each course he teaches.
According to a former university employee, Guillory was fired from his teaching job at UL in 2013 for repeatedly violating procedural policies only to be rehired after taking office. A public records request for the termination letter and whether his political position gave him leverage to ask for his old job back from the university are pending.
UL and LCG have numerous long-term business relationships, most recently inking a deal to turn over operations of the Lafayette Science Museum to the university. UL also has an interest in the mayor-president’s plan to replace the city-owned Heymann Performing Arts Center, potentially with a new facility on UL property.
UL spokesman Eric Maron says LCG approached the university about an operating partnership on the science museum, noting the agreement was authorized by both councils in a public meeting.
Besides the pay stubs documenting his compensation at UL and the range of pay he claimed from legal work during his first year in office, it’s impossible to know how much additional income the mayor-president takes in.
Three companies he created in 2021, WM&N Equipment & Supplies and J.E.P. LLC, have yet to report income publicly. Guillory and his wife say the equipment firm is not yet making much money. It’s unclear what J.E.P. LLC or Still Water LLC do.
The Mayor-President shall not engage in any activity unrelated to City of Lafayette, Parish of Lafayette, and/or City-Parish Government business that would interfere with or detract from the performance of duties as Mayor-President.Lafayette Home Rule Charter
Expungements alone could generate thousands in legal fees for the mayor-president, according to lawyers familiar with this practice. He has charged clients in the range of several thousand dollars per expungement, according to sources with direct information about his fees.
It’s unclear if last week’s expungement filing is Guillory’s only current case; knowing the full extent of his practice is difficult to pin down. Expungements, which purge records of criminal offenses, are ultimately sealed from public view once processed. By nature, they’re obscured.
Interviews with District Attorney Don Landry and City-Parish Attorney Greg Logan corroborate that the practice has gone on for months.
On Aug. 9 while Guillory was reportedly still away, Landry, who has been in office since 2021, personally signed paperwork for Guillory’s expungement motion and says he’s done the same for other expungements Guillory brought to him; he isn’t sure how many.
Prior to Landry, it was unusual for the district attorney himself to sign off on expungements, sources from his predecessor’s office tell The Current. A public records request for all of the expungement letters Landry signed, which he says he will fulfill, is pending.
“From time to time I sign off on expungement letters, not only for Josh Guillory but I think for other people, too,” Landry says.
Guillory’s client, however, may not qualify for expungement, given that she has a pending felony drug charge (she was arrested by the Lafayette Police Department, which Guillory oversees) and is in the DA’s pretrial intervention program for that offense. It’s something Landry acknowledged he should have caught. (To protect her privacy, The Current is withholding the name of Guillory’s client; view the redacted expungement motion here.) The error will require more legal work from the mayor-president.
“I apparently missed that … oversight on my part,” Landry said when presented with the error. “What I’m going to require is that Josh Guillory file an amendment to his petition for an expungement to correct that error.”
How much time Guillory spends away from City Hall, away from his official duties, is not yet clear, leaving open the question of whether his pursuits violate the charter.
Public filings suggest Josh Guillory is not the only person earning from his political relationships. His wife Jamie appears to be benefiting as well.
A clearer and more recent picture of his finances won’t be available until later this year. The M-P requested an extension on the couple’s 2021 personal financial disclosures, a very basic form, till Nov. 15. That term would cover income he’s derived from private practice, insurance production, and from a pair of companies he formed.
Until confronted, the Guillorys have not been forthcoming about their business practices.
On June 23, after local media first began requesting records from UL, he amended his personal financial disclosure to report exact amounts of income from both LCG and the university (exact amounts are required for state jobs and political subdivisions; he’d previously reported working for both but not the amount he was paid).
Guillory and his wife removed their names from public filings for their construction equipment firm, WM&N Supplies & Machinery, within months of starting the company, replacing them with Josh’s cousin, Jacques Pitre. Within days of The Current’s Aug. 10 story about the heavy equipment company, they removed Pitre’s name from the secretary of state’s records and added Jamie’s name back. They also updated the address, changing it from a residential address owned by Jamie’s father to their actual office at 100 Asma Boulevard, Ste. 236E.
During Monday’s press conference, Guillory tersely denied that the couple’s heavy equipment company had done business with any companies doing work for LCG but would not answer a question about why he and Jamie removed their names from public filings.
Since he announced the closure of his new law practice in 2020, the party line has been that Guillory was wrapping up prior client work. Reached by phone last week, City-Parish Attorney Greg Logan again offered that explanation.
“I think he’s wrapping up [some cases] and doing some expungements,” Logan said, denying that Guillory was otherwise practicing law at Logan’s office Downtown.
The city-parish attorney said he was unaware that Guillory had used The Logan Law Firm phone number and its Jefferson Street address as his business address on the August expungement filing. But it’s also the address Guillory used in December 2019, the month after he was elected, when he registered a new law firm, Acadiana Family Law.
Logan’s law office address, which also serves as Guillory’s campaign headquarters, figures into another source of income for the Guillorys, Jamie’s job at a mental health facility in Shreveport.
Josh and Jamie Guillory 2020 personal financial disclosure
- LCG: $119,400
- UL: $6,200
- Law Office of Joshua S. Guillory: $5,000 to $24,000
- Guillory Counseling: $5,000 to $24,000 (Jamie)
- Physicians Behavioral Hospital: $25,000 to $100,000 (Jamie)
In the couple’s personal financial disclosure for 2020, the most recent available, Jamie Guillory claimed to have a full-time job doing marketing and intake for Physicians Behavioral Hospital in Shreveport, where she checked off a salary range between $25,000 and $100,000. The couple also reported an aggregate of $5,000 to $25,000 from the Law Office of Joshua S. Guillory and Jamie’s counseling business.
Physicians Behavioral Hospital is owned by Bill Logan, brother of City-Parish Attorney Greg Logan, and, like Logan Law Firm, is also domiciled at 700 Jefferson St.
Greg Logan did not respond to a text or email message asking him whether he has ownership in the facility that has employed Jamie Guillory. Bill Logan did not return a message left with his office.
For months, Guillory has refused to address the City Council’s questions about drainage projects centered on Rigid Constructors and its CEO Cody Fortier, who has been paid $53 million since November. Four of Fortier’s companies donated a combined $10,000 to Guillory’s campaign in one month last year, around the time major projects were being awarded. Guillory also clarified Monday that Jamie is the firm’s majority owner — a distinction without much difference with respect to state ethics laws and statutes governing a couple’s “community property,” as the mayor-president acknowledged.
“The money we have made off this is not even enough really to pay our salary,” Jamie said in an exclusive interview with KLFY’s Darla Montgomery. “We’re pretty much breaking even. … We are just a middle man, like a fulfillment center,” she explained, offering that WM&N has two partners whom she did not identify.
Since reports of the company came out, the Guillorys have offered clarifications that clarify little. Jamie’s characterization of the company “breaking even” contradicted statements by WM&N’s lone employee that the company was still in a research phase. Jamie also claimed the business was inspired as an attempt at disaster relief in the wake of a “hurricane.” The company was legally created more than a week before Hurricane Ida devastated the state in 2021.
“What motivated me when you had this idea is we can take a chunk of the proceeds and donate it to charity,” the mayor-president said, interjecting into his wife’s explanation of WM&N’s origins, “maybe start a nonprofit.” — Additional reporting by Christiaan Mader