September 27, 2010; Source: | How many cigars can you buy for $50,000? That’s among the questions state auditors are asking as they pore over expenditures of the former head of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association (LHSAA). However, the bigger question is whether Tommy Henry, who retired in 2007 after 24 years serving as commissioner of the nonprofit that oversees high school athletics in the state, committed any wrong-doing.

Even though he admits that he spent some LHSAA funds for personal benefit, Henry also says because he was employed by a private entity, and not on the state’s payroll, he’s in the clear. The state, which is a bit burned up over the expenses for clothes, trips, golf equipment, as well as cigars, maintains otherwise. In an opinion issued earlier this year, the Louisiana Attorney General said the association is a quasi-public group because some funds are from payments received from public bodies.

For example sources of income include sponsorships, membership dues from high schools, and ticket sales from state sporting tournaments. In response, LHSAA says the state is just blowing smoke. It says because it is a private group, any unreasonable expenses Henry might have made are its loss not the public’s. It may be some time before the legal issues in this matter simmer down. But as to the question of how many cigars $50,000 buys, records show that Henry made 182 charges at 12 different cigar stores in Baton Rouge and Lafayette.—Bruce Trachtenberg