I-TEAM: EBR coroner claims he’s full-time while also working two part-time jobs
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner Dr. Beau Clark refuses to say if he reimburses the parish for fuel or any other expenses when he drives his public vehicle to a private job 50 miles away in another parish.
Clark also will not say how that private job, one of the two he has in addition to being a coroner, affects the number of hours he is able to work in his elected position as coroner.
When running for re-election in 2019, Dr. Clark told voters at a forum that he was indeed working full-time as a coroner and was fully committed to the role.
“I’m your coroner,” Clark said at the time. “I’m fully engaged. I’m fully committed to this job and I’m full-time and I am the gold standard,” he told the audience. “In 2012, when I was elected, I decided that was the moment I was going to set aside my private practice of emergency medicine and become your full-time coroner. That was important because East Baton Rouge Parish is a parish that’s so large it requires the engagement and commitment of someone full-time,” said Clark.
Despite his own words, there are questions about how many hours Clark is working at his $200,000 per year job as coroner.
Besides his job as coroner, Clark reports he also has two part-time jobs. WAFB’s Scottie Hunter recently found Clark leaving one of those part-time jobs, at the St. James Parish Hospital in Lutcher.
Exiting the hospital at 6. a.m., Clark said he had just finished a 12-hour overnight shift there as an emergency room doctor. He said he works that same shift three Tuesday nights per month.
His publicly-owned East Baton Rouge Parish coroner’s vehicle was in the parking lot of the hospital. That hospital is located nearly 50 miles from the Coroner’s Office in Baton Rouge. Clark said the main reason he drives that public vehicle to his hospital job is because he is “always on call” as coroner and might have to leave the hospital job at any time to go on a coroner’s call. However, he declined to say if that has ever happened, only saying “can” happen. He also would not say whether he has ever reimbursed the parish for his private use of that vehicle, including for fuel.
According to forms that Dr. Clark is required by law to annually file with the Louisiana Board of Ethics, he has listed the coroner’s office as a part-time job from 2012 through 2018. That changed after someone in the audience at that 2019 forum questioned him about whether he was actually putting in full-time hours.
“On every ethics or Tier 2 form we’re required to fill out, I always put that I am part-time at all my jobs because part-time plus part-time plus part-time equals full-time,” Clark said at the forum. “When I say that I am full-time, that means I work as the coroner greater than 40 hours a week, which is a common denominator for most people thinking that is a full-time position,” Clark said at the time.
However, following that 2019 forum, Clark made a change and started listing on those annual ethics forms that he was “full-time” as coroner.
In his latest form, filed last year, Dr. Clark reported that in addition to his full-time job as coroner, he also has two other part-time jobs. One of his other jobs is at the Louisiana Worker’s Compensation Corporation where he serves as Medical Director.
On his ethics form, Clark says that the job pays him between $25,000 to $100,000 a year. The other part-time job he listed is his ER doctor job at the St. James Parish Hospital. Clark reports the hospital job also pays him between $25,000 to $100,000 a year.
WAFB’s Scottie Hunter asked LSU law professor Ken Levy if Clark can realistically devote the proper attention to the East Baton Rouge Coroner’s Office while also working two other jobs.
“I just don’t see how anybody can sustain those jobs at a high level for a long enough period of time,” Levy said. “I mean, he seems very ambitious and I applaud ambition but at some point, you have to commit. You have to commit to one of those jobs and I think you can’t do all three. Something’s got to give and I just hope it’s not the quality of his performance,” Levy said.
The WAFB I-TEAM asked for a copy of Clark’s schedule at the coroner’s office or any type of timesheet or another record of the hours he is required to submit. His office said none of those records exist.
The morning we found him leaving his 12-hour shift at the hospital in Lutcher, the coroner said he was driving straight to his office in Baton Rouge.
“I’m heading there right now,” Clark said. “I worked all night and then I’m going to work in the coroner’s office today.”
Hunter asked Clark when he is able to get any sleep. “Whenever I can,” he replied.
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