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Story Archives: Ellington hearing continued
|Ellington hearing continued|
The wife of one area state legislator will remain employed by the state of Louisiana at least until Feb. 19.
Brenda Armstrong Anderson, the wife of state Rep. Noble Elling-ton, was expected to appear in Judge Don Johnson's court in the 19th Judicial District in Baton Rouge on Monday.
Johnson continued the matter until Feb. 19.
Johnson also transferred the case to Judge Curtis Calloway's docket. Callo-way is a 19th Judicial District Court jurist as well.
As previously reported in The Franklin Sun, Ellington's wife was granted an emergency restraining order to prevent the state House of Representatives from terminating her employment as Ellington's legislative aid.
Louisiana state law prevents legislators from hiring family members as legislative aids. But Anderson received an exemption from the state ethics board, as she had been working as Ellington's aid for more than 15 years when the couple married in 2006.
Problems arose when Ellington was informed by House officials his wife would not be allowed to continue serving as his legislative aid when Ellington transferred from the state Senate to the House of Representatives.
In the 3-2 ruling, the Ethics Board cited state ethics laws that prohibit state lawmakers from hiring members of their family to work for them in the Legislature.
Despite the negative ruling, Ellington attempted to hire Armstrong anyway.
When the House rejected Ellington's move, Armstrong petitioned the 19th Judicial District Court for a restraining order to prevent her termination.
District Court Judge Don Johnson granted Armstrong's request for a temporary restraining order, which effectively prevents the House from terminating her employment until the case can be heard in court.
Butch Speer, clerk of the House of Representatives, said the House would appeal Johnson's ruling.
Ellington said he believes the court will rule Armstrong should keep her job because the state constitution is clear.
"The constitution reads that it is the Legislature – it is not the House and the Senate," Ellington said. "She has been working for the Legislature for almost 20 years."
To reinforce his position, Ellington pointed out the close vote of the ethics panel.
"It was a 3-2 vote," Ellington said. "That indicated to me that there was some validity in what we were trying to do."
Ellington also said he has received a generally favorable response from his colleagues in the Legislature.
"I talked to some different people around to find out for sure if I was thinking wrong," Ellington said. "And a lot of the advice I've gotten is I am thinking right."
Ellington noted the Ethics Board's response in the matter is not final, but rather, just the beginning.
"There is a process after them," Ellington said. "They are not the final say."