By Kevin O'Keefe

New Orleans DA cashing in on Internet advertising

Will lawyers be advertising their services on the local DA’s Web site? Could Happen. The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports in what appears to be a first-of-its-kind business arrangement with a local government agency, three individuals with close ties to Orleans Parish District Attorney Eddie Jordan have set up an Internet Web site that will share profits from advertising with the prosecutor’s office.

Of course, money is the driving force here. Ads on the site will sell for $1,000 to $5,000 per year, according to Jordan spokeswoman Melanie Roussell. Lawyers can place listings on the site for $100 per month or $1,000 annually. The company doing the Web site projects $400,000 in annual profits for Jordan’s office.

The report only gets worse:

The site looks like an official product of the district attorney’s office. It features Jordan’s name and photo prominently on its home page and multiple links, still under construction, to details about his office, ranging from murder prosecutions to victim assistance programs. Although the “Attorney Listing” section of the site says, “This is New Orleans District Attorney Eddie Jordan’s web site,” his office said Thursday that’s not the case.

The venture is fully owned and operated by businessmen Ray Valdes and Jimmie Woods, both Jordan financial backers; and by Shelley Rainey, the daughter of businessman Burnell Moliere, a close Jordan adviser who also has made campaign contributions to him. …

Valdes, a financier based in Metairie, contributed the legal maximum of $5,000 to Jordan’s 2002 campaign for district attorney through one of his companies, American Lease Financing LLC.

Valdes is a frequent contributor to local elected officials, including former Mayor Marc Morial. He landed several City Hall contracts during Morial’s tenure.

Woods is listed as a member of the committee that is hosting a $1,000-a person fund-raiser for Jordan next week. He has a piece of the city’s waste disposal contract through his company Metro Disposal Inc.

Moliere, whose Norco-based janitorial services company, AME Services, has major contracts with the Orleans Parish School Board and the New Orleans Aviation Board, is a co-chairman of the upcoming Jordan fund-raiser.

Moliere, who contributed $5,000 to Jordan’s campaign in 2002, headed up the district attorney’s transition team that oversaw the transfer of power from Harry Connick.

Best of all the Louisiana Attorney General approved this fiasco:

The Sept. 2 opinion issued by then-Attorney General Richard Ieyoub’s office said if were Jordan’s official Web site it could create a public forum on which courts might rule that any legal business, from bail bond agents to adult book stores and casinos, would have the right to advertise.

But because is Jordan’s unofficial Web site, its owners have the power to decide who can put ads on the site.

Before Jordan signed the agreement, he sought Ieyoub’s advice regarding the legality of contracting with an Internet service provider as well as sharing ad revenue from the Web site operation.

“We believe that the ability to enter into a contract for the creation of a Web page would be within the inherent authority of the district attorney,” the attorney general’s opinion said.

The opinion also says there appears to be no law authorizing or prohibiting the district attorney’s office from selling advertising “on the district attorney’s official Web site.”

And you wonder why lawyers have such an awful reputation.

Kevin O'Keefe
About the Author

Trial lawyer turned legal tech entrepreneur, I am the founder and CEO of LexBlog, a legal blog community of over 30,000 blog publishers, worldwide. LexBlog’s publishing platform is used on a subscription basis by over 18,000 legal professionals, including the largest law firm in each India, China and the United States.

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