Gov. John Bel Edwards named his nephew and former law partner Bradley A. Stevens to the board of supervisors for the University of Louisiana System, a move that a legal expert says is allowed in Louisiana law and that Stevens himself says is based on his qualifications.
Stevens has been a partner at Edwards & Stevens Law Firm based in Amite City since 2014. He was one of 14 people Edwards appointed or reappointed Monday to the UL System board, the Board of Regents and the Southern University board of supervisors.
Board members are named for six-year terms. Stevens and others will be sworn in and take their seats when the board meets virtually on Thursday.
“My resume and experience qualify me to serve,” Stevens said to The Illuminator in a phone interview. “And I think the governor just happens to know my involvement at Southeastern and the extent to which I’ve been involved.”
Stevens has served as president on Southeastern Louisiana University’s Alumni Association Board of Directors as well as been a member of the Lion Athletic Association Board of Directors since 2012. He also received the Southeastern Louisiana University Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni award in 2013.
“Southeastern means a lot me, it means a lot to my community, it means a lot to the Northshore region,” Stevens said. “It’s important for me to serve to make sure students have a similar experience as I had.”
Shauna Sanford, a spokesperson for the governor’s office, said Edwards appointed Stevens because he is “a hard-working and conscientious supporter of higher education.”
“He was appointed for the same reason as every other member of the UL Board and other higher-ed boards,” Sanford said. “Because he will be a great board member and serve the board, it’s institutions, and the state very well.”
Though Stevens is Edwards’ nephew, the appointment does not violate any state laws against nepotism, said David Marcello, an adjunct process of law at Tulane University. While state law does prevent a public servant from employing their immediate family, “brothers and sisters and their spouses fall into the category of ‘immediate family’ but their children do not,” Marcello said.
“The governor was well within his authority to make the appointment,” Sanford said.