Ascension Parish Council’s Corey Orgeron files lawsuit against president

Michael Tortorich

The Ascension Parish Council’s District 4 representative Corey Orgeron handed Parish President Clint Cointment a lawsuit during the June 3 meeting held at the courthouse in Donaldsonville.

Ascension Parish President Clint Cointment receives a lawsuit from District 4’s Corey Orgeron during the July 3 Ascension Parish Council meeting at the courthouse in Donaldsonville.

Just prior to the president’s report, Orgeron asked Chair Teri Casso for permission to deliver the item to Cointment. After she approved, Orgeron walked over and handed the president the documents. 

Cointment set the folder down on his seat. Neither Orgeron nor Cointment spoke to each other.

“Mr. President, you are free to deal with that at another time,” Casso said, as Orgeron returned to his seat.

Orgeron contends Cointment has denied access to information for council members, and intends for a judge to determine the president’s authority under the home rule charter.

“Let me jump out in front of tomorrow’s bogus headlines from the local media,” Orgeron stated in a Facebook post later that night. 

According to Orgeron’s post, he has made “request after request for information” over the last 15 months involving the utilities and drainage departments, personnel, and other general information. 

“My requests have often gone ignored, and on occasion I have been flat out denied the information sought,” he stated. “The final straw was when the parish president’s head secretary emailed me that she determined my request was outside of her interpretation of what the personnel committee is allowed access to.”

Orgeron added he was gathering information to work on the personnel handbook.

“And yet, this overpaid secretary decided, at the instruction of her boss, that the council was not entitled to this information,” he stated in the post.

Orgeron said the “final straw” came in the previous three weeks when the president “refused to share information regarding the drainage problems” in District 4.

Orgeron concluded that the president has acted in violation of the charter.

“I anticipate his attempts to spin this lawsuit as just another way I am being mean to him or unfairly challenging his efforts,” he stated.

According to Orgeron, his goal is to hold the president and his administration accountable, and to “force him to be transparent and to treat ALL (sic) council members equally.”

“If I have to offend to drag the truth out of this administration, so be it,” he concluded.

Earlier in the week, the president posted a statement via Facebook June 1 to “address politically motivated public attacks” by elected officials.

“While it is normal, and beneficial, for elected officials to have sincere differences of opinion, that has nothing to do with Councilman Aaron Lawler’s pointless attacks. Neither does it justify those launched by Councilman Corey Orgeron,” the president’s post stated.

Cointment said Lawler’s recent offering was “the last straw,” admitting the issues between the two date back to the 2019 campaign.

He accused Lawler of establishing a “pattern of dishonesty” and “untruths” ahead of the October elections. Cointment said he did not endorse any candidate for council in 2019, and focused on his own race.

The president stated in weeks of being sworn-in, Lawler and Orgeron “launched their first attack” after Cointment replaced former members of the administration, as other administrations have done.

Cointment recalled other disagreements over the past months, including over social media posts and the parishwide sewer deal.

The president also took a jab at Lawler when he appeared “shoeless” in a WBRZ-TV report.

“These attacks are the reason I do not take questions during the Parish President’s Report at council meetings. Should other council members seek information, place an item on the council/committee agenda and the information will be provided,” Cointment stated.

He went on to say he has chosen to ignore the “constant badgering” to focus on his job.

“I will never punish their constituents for their unprofessionalism because you are my constituents too. My administration will continue to address your issues as best we can,” Cointment stated.

In closing, the president said the top problem in the parish is “trust, more accurately the lack of trust in government.”

“We see this nationwide, but I know here in Ascension Parish when we work together we can earn our residents’ trust,” he said. “We need to act less like adolescents and more like adults, we need to do better presenting ourselves as the professionals you have elected, not typical politicians playing games.”