There are three interesting issues in this one minor matter,
involving a Louisiana sheriff's purchase of a house at a foreclosure
sale handled by the sheriff's office.
The Application of Ethics Laws to Foreclosure Purchases
The first issue involves the transaction itself, the particular law
in Louisiana, and how more common conflict laws may be interpreted
in such a situation.
Louisiana has an unusual law that deals with this sort of
§1113. Prohibited contractual arrangements
A.(1) No public servant ... or member of such a public servant's
immediate family, or legal entity in which he has a controlling
interest shall bid on or enter into any contract, subcontract, or
other transaction that is under the supervision or jurisdiction of
the agency of such public servant.
One of the especially good aspects of this language is that it is
not limited to situations where an official was personally involved
in a transaction. The rule
acknowledges that, to the public, it doesn't matter if the sheriff's
deputy had handled the auction. What matters is that it was the
sheriff's office. Similarly, a deputy should not be allowed to
purchase property at an auction run by the sheriff or by another