Louisiana Attorney General to discuss lawsuit over alleged sexual harassment in his office

Jeff Landry sued a reporter over records related to sexual misconduct

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry (Image via RLDF.org).

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry has scheduled a press conference Tuesday to discuss “human resource issues” and a lawsuit he filed against newspaper reporter Andrea Gallo after she sought records related to sexual misconduct allegations in Landry’s office, The Advocate reported Monday night.

Landry will talk the day after he declined to appear before the Louisiana House Appropriations committee and answer questions about how much money sexual misconduct allegations have cost his department. 

The head of Landry’s criminal division, Pat Magee, resigned suddenly in March after information about the nature of the sexual harassment accusations against him became public. He was accused of picking women attorneys for assignments based on how attractive he found them. Magee also allegedly commented on whether he was attracted to women lawyers working under his supervision, according to a complaint received by the Advocate

Democratic women lawmakers wanted to talk to Landry, a Republican, about the sexual harassment complaints made against Magee in person. But Landry, instead of appearing himself, sent two women who work in his office– Elise Cazes and Melissa Gannuch — to speak to lawmakers during a budget hearing. 

“I can assure you we value women in the workplace and in the womb,” Cazes said of Landry’s office.

Cazes said Landry’s office has spent a total of $12,123 on Magee’s case. The money included $6,498 to the Taylor Porter law firm for an investigation into the allegations made against Magee. It also includes $5,625 in attorney fees racked up by Gallo, the reporter from The Advocate Landry sued.

Gallo was seeking a copy of the sexual misconduct complaint about Magee when the attorney general sued her in lieu of releasing the document. A district court judge eventually awarded her a redacted copy of the complaint and ordered Landry to cover her court costs.  

The expenses related to the investigation into Magee’s misconduct were covered by Magee’s cut in salary, Cazes said. Magee agreed to be docked over $20,000 in pay after the sexual misconduct investigation, which would make up for any expenses related to the sexual misconduct allegations, she said. 

Landry’s office supports women in the workplace, Cazes said. She said the attorney general pays women better than his predecessor, provides extra security for women in the office parking lot at night and allows flexibility for working moms.

At the same time, Gallo has reported Landry is targeting the whistleblower who initially complained about Magee harassing women in the office. Gallo said documents provided to her make the identity of the whistleblower obvious, even though the person has tried to remain anonymous. Landry is also publicly alleging the whistleblower may have acted inappropriately.

Cazes countered that women who work in Landry’s office can easily report harassment allegations.

“We encourage people in our department to always come forward if they’re ever a victim or witness something in the workplace,” she said. “If they’re not comfortable coming to their own supervisor, we all have open doors and we encourage them to seek anyone within the office.”