The results of the City Council investigation into the Entergy paid actor scheme are being delayed for a second time. On Thursday, the City Council voted unanimously to extend the deadline for the investigators’ report until Nov. 2, nearly two months later than the original due date.
How Entergy spent $1.3 million to polish its reputation, script support and monitor opposition to its new power plant
For both extensions, investigators requested more time to process newly delivered documents from Entergy, which reportedly continued to trickle in this week. Prior to the council vote, the deadline was set for Friday.
“We wanted to ensure the investigators finalize their work and had the opportunity to review all documents — including some requests apparently fulfilled in the past several days,” Andrew Tuozzolo, Councilwoman Helena Moreno’s chief of staff, said in an email.
The City Council announced that it was launching an investigation three weeks after The Lens reported that people, including some professional actors, were paid to show up to City Council meetings and deliver speeches in favor of Entergy’s proposed $210 million power plant in eastern New Orleans.
But it took another two months to procure the investigative team, which includes retired Judge Calvin Johnson and Matthew Coman, the lead prosecutor in the federal corruption case against former Mayor Ray Nagin. When the contract was finally signed on Aug. 4, investigators were given 30 days to deliver a final report.
By the time the investigation began, the City Council had ordered Entergy to hand over all documents related to the use of paid actors. In June, Entergy turned over thousands of pages of documents in response to that demand.
Entergy officials had previously denied being aware of the use of paid actors or that a public relations contractor had hired the company that recruited them, California-based Crowds on Demand. But the documents showed that high-level Entergy employees, including former Entergy New Orleans CEO Charles Rice, knew more about the matter than they had let on. Rice stepped down as CEO in August.
In September, the investigators received a second cache of documents, and the council voted to give them an extra 45 days to sort through the evidence. It’s unknown what is contained in the new documents or why they weren’t included in the initial delivery.
The council has promised to make the final report, along with records used to compile it, available to the public when the investigation is complete.