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Finally.

A national ranking in which Louisiana can take pride in finding itself 10th from the bottom.

As an added bonus, all those rabid LSU fans can be more than a little smug in the knowledge that Alabama is number one.

If you’re a bit confused, if up seems down, if day appears as night, don’t fret.

We’re talking about the latest ranking in per capita expenditures and Alabama is at the top of the list and Louisiana is way down there at number 42.

But that’s not a bad thing. Just ask Josh Duggar. The oldest of the TV reality show 19 Kids and Counting and a former employee of the Family Research Council headed up by Bobby Jindal pal Tony Perkins. Josh is the one, you may remember, who was outed several months ago for having molested his little sisters, a sin attributed to the actions of a young boy.

But he’s no longer a young boy and now he’s been outed again. This time, it has been learned that he has been an active client of that Ashley Madison internet services that guarantees you an extra-marital affair or your money back. Of course, he’s back out there making public apologies all over again.

It was also revealed on Friday that federal employees, including employees right there in the White House, had at least logged onto the website, though not all actually subscribed to the service and actively sought affairs the way young Josh did.

Still, Washington, D.C. ranked third on the list with per capita expenditures of a little less than $4.50 at the website, ranking just behind second-place Colorado and top-ranked Alabama.

But we digress.

Some enterprising person or persons has gone to the trouble of charting payments to Ashley Madison on a state-by-state basis and that’s the crux of our story.

ASHLEY MADISON RANKINGS

It seems that in the gret stet of Alabama, football, while immensely popular, may have a little competition for the entertainment dollar. Maybe those football-crazed ‘Bama Crimson Tide and Auburn Tiger fans need something to get them through the off-season. Whatever the explanation may be, the rankings chart shows an expenditure of nearly $6 per capita from Alabama residents on the Ashley Madison website to lead the list of “Most Unfaithful States in America.” Based on a population of nearly 4.9 million, that equates to an expenditure of $28.8 million.

Louisiana, by comparison, spent only a tad more than a buck-fifty per capita despite having a population base and demographics closely aligned with those of Alabama. Using the same methodology, Louisiana residents spent “only” $7 million, or one-fourth that of Alabama.

A disclaimer: We do not know over what time period these expenditures were tracked. It could have been a year, two years, or more. Also, the numbers represent only a fraction of Ashley Madison’s entire data bank. But the rankings encompass the same time frame for all states, so by that standard, they are fair.

Mississippi, wedged between the two states, was next-to-last in per capita cheating spending at just a nudge over $1, which equates to about $3 million for the entire state.

 

A former reserve law enforcement officer from southwest Louisiana has filed a formal complaint against a state trooper and his then-captain over an ongoing feud with State Trooper Jimmy Rogers that was the subject of an earlier LouisianaVoice story. http://louisianavoice.com/2015/08/12/the-stark-reality-of-jindal-administrations-double-standards-found-in-discipline-of-state-trooper-for-text-phone-threats/

The latest complaint marks the second time Rogers has become confrontational with individuals in Troop D and yet he has been assigned to work in the Troop D area school systems as a State Police School Resource Officer.

It is the third formal complaint that Dwight Gerst has attempted to file against Rogers and the second against Maj. Chris Guillory after Guillory refused to act on—or even accept—Gerst’s first complaint against Rogers last year. State Police Internal Affairs likewise never followed up on Gerst’s complaint that the state trooper stalked him at his home and at his child’s school in his state police vehicle.

Guillory refused to accept Gerst’s initial attempt at filing the complaint against Rogers, telling Gerst that he had “a problem” with Gerst and would not talk about his complaint until his “problem” was resolved. That “problem” was a festering dispute with Rogers that began in earnest when Gerst picked up two children from school and drove them home. Gerst says he had a reciprocal agreement with a neighbor whereby either parent could pick up the other’s child after school, but one of the children he picked up was Roger’s child.

Rogers, however, would seem to have problems of his own, judging from that heavily redacted nine-page disciplinary letter to him from State Police Commander Col. Mike Edmonson. In that Nov. 19, 2010, letter, Rogers was informed he would receive a 240-hour reduction in pay (a 10 percent reduction for 30 pay periods, which amounted to a $4,845.60 cut in pay) for repeated verbal threats of bodily harm and arrest directed to another man with whom he was feuding.

A court document filed by the mother of Rogers’s child and obtained by LouisianaVoice described Rogers as having “a lengthy history of abuse as well as (a) violent temperament.” The petition further said that Rogers had threatened to kill her and her family. The woman also requested that Rogers be entitled to supervised visitation of the child.

Despite the discipline meted out by Edmonson for the threats against the mother and her family, and despite Gerst’s attempt to file the complaint against him that was refused by Guillory, and never acted upon by State Police hierarchy, Rogers was nevertheless reassigned by Guillory this year as School Resource Officer to work in the Troop D area schools. SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICER

Last August, Gerst picked up the neighbor’s nine-year-old child and Rogers’s five-year-old child who was left in the care of the older child. He said he took the children “straight home,” a distance of some 400 yards and then notified Rogers via text. Upon receiving the text, Rogers became infuriated. He subsequently pulled Gerst over at the school and demanded proof that he was authorized to pick up his own son and a niece and nephew. Gerst said Rogers was in uniform and was driving a state police vehicle in which two children were riding at the time.

When Guillory refused to accept Gerst’s formal complaint against Rogers, Gerst took his complaint up the chain of command, to State Police headquarters in Baton Rouge but that complaint was never addressed by Baton Rouge.

A state police spokesperson acknowledged on Monday (Aug. 17), however that Internal Affairs was investigating “some serious allegations” at Troop D Though he did not specify what the nature of those allegations were, they are probably related to Gerst’s latest complaint filed last week.

Following his complaint to State Police headquarters last year, Gerst was arrested and booked on $15,000 bail for two misdemeanor counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Though the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office declined to make an arrest, it was made at the behest of the Calcasieu Parish District Attorney’s Office. Rogers and Guillory were said to have met with the district attorney representatives to push for the charges against Gerst.

After the prosecution presented its case at Gerst’s trial, the case was apparently so weak that the presiding judge issued a directed verdict of not guilty before Gerst’s attorneys even found it necessary to put on a defense. A directed verdict is an order given when the presiding judge finds that no reasonable jury could reach a decision to the contrary.

In his latest complaint, Gerst said he knew Rogers and the two communicated regularly. He said he picked up his neighbor’s nine-year-old daughter who was with Rogers’s five-year-old. “It was a hot day and I thought that someone was not able to pick the children up because children that young seem too young to walk home without supervision,” he said. “I had authorization from the parents to pick up the nine-year-old from school and they had the same permission for picking up my children. Jimmy was very angry and I told him it would not happen again.” He said after that incident, Rogers began stalking him. “He parked outside my home while off duty in his state police patrol vehicle and in uniform on several occasions.”

Later, he said he was in line to pick up his child at school and Rogers was behind him in his marked unit and in uniform. “He put the nine-year-old and his son in the patrol vehicle,” he said. “He then approached me (and) demanded I get out of my vehicle. He then questioned me about my authority to pick up my niece and nephew from school. The stop was made with two children in his state police vehicle. He left the children in the vehicle while he questioned me about whether I had authorization to be there,” Gerst said.

Gerst said he attempted to file a complaint at Troop D. “I met with Captain Guillory,” he said. “Lt. Cyprien was also present. Before I got the chance to tell Guillory that I wanted to file a complaint, he informed me that if I was there to file a complaint, he would not accept a complaint from me. He said he thought I had problems and he was not doing anything until there was a disposition on my case from the sheriff’s office. He further said that he had a problem with me personally and professionally and he would not accept any complaint I may have.”

After being turned away by Guillory, Gerst said he contacted State Police Internal Affairs. “I attempted to file a formal complaint on Rogers,” he said. “I also attempted to file a complaint on Guillory for refusing to take my complaint. I had to drive to Baton Rouge to file my complaint (and) I have yet to hear the disposition of either complaint.”

Gerst said that after filing the complaint in Baton Rouge, he feels that he has been the victim of retaliation that included the revocation of his law enforcement commission. The worst part of that retaliation, he said, “was the subsequent arrest and prosecution. At trial, the prosecutor informed my defense attorney that he knew the charges were not justified but the state police (were) pushing it. We were not required to put up a defense and the judge issued a directed verdict of not guilty.”

In his latest complaint, Gerst also cited Guillory for his refusal to accept his initial complaint against Rogers last year.

The combined revenues of $3.5 billion and net profits of $697 million for 2014, America’s two largest private prison companies, Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group clearly illustrate the profit potential in the operation of private prisons.

It’s no wonder. With 2.4 million people incarcerated in this country, America easily leads the civilized world with more than 700 of every 100,000 of its citizens kept behind bars. The Russian Federation is a distant second at 474 per 100,000 imprisoned. Canada has 118 per 100,000 of its population incarcerated. The four Scandinavian countries have the fewest number per 100,000 in prison. The numbers for them are, in order: Denmark (73), Norway (72), Sweden (67) and Finland (58).

If Louisiana were a nation, it would double the U.S. ratio. (At least we’re number one in the world at something.) Latest figures show 1,420 of every 100,000 Louisiana citizens (one of every 86 adults) is housed in a cell, giving Louisiana the distinction of having the highest rate in the world. Nearly two-thirds of those are non-violent offenders. We should be so proud. Louisiana’s rate of incarceration is three times that of Russia, nearly 10 times that of the United Kingdom, 12 times Canada’s rate, and 24 times that of Sweden.

But private prisons are not the only ones benefitting from the glut of prisoners in Louisiana. There are the prison telephone systems which charge exorbitant rates to prisoners’ families for collect calls home. The phone companies are protected by state contracts, making their operations a literal monopoly.

And then there are the privately-run prison work release, or “transitional work program” companies and that’s where the waters really get murky.

Most work release programs are supervised by parish sheriffs and some are kept in-house by the sheriffs. The one common thread is that all of them use the profits from inmate labor to underwrite other operations of the sheriffs’ departments. There have been private work release companies to spring up, operate for a while and then disappear, notably Northside Workforce in St. Tammany Parish as well as privately-run programs in Lafayette and Iberia parishes.

One such company isn’t likely to face the operational pitfalls experienced by the others, however. That is because of its connections to the top brass at the Louisiana Department of Corrections and Louisiana State Prison at Angola, connections that likely even extend into the governor’s office.

Louisiana Workforce, LLC (no connection with the Louisiana Workforce Commission) has been around for 10 years since it was founded on Feb. 4, 2005 by Paul Perkins. Both Perkins and Louisiana Workforce have been active in writing campaign checks to sheriffs, key legislators and Jindal since 2009.

It was not until 2014, however that Louisiana Workforce really burst onto the scene in a big way. Following an inmate’s escape from a Northside Workforce jobsite in St. Tammany that same year, Department of Corrections (DOC) Secretary James LeBlanc mandated that local sheriffs not be approved for outsourcing work-release programs without first going through a competitive bid process.

The only problem was, the process turned out to be not so competitive.

That’s not unusual if you take the trouble to talk to business owners who find themselves shut out of the state contract bid process. If they are completely candid, they will tell you that if a state agency prefers a given vendor, the specifications can be—and often as not, they are—written in such a manner as to eliminate all but the preferred vendor.

The practice is similar to, though not quite as blatant as, the north Louisiana parish police jury which, way back in the 1970s when I was a young reporter, decided to purchase a used bulldozer. When the advertisement for bids was published in the parish’s official journal (the local newspaper), the specifications included the serial number of the ‘dozer which quite understandably narrowed the field of eligible bidders somewhat.

It turned out that even though six private providers, along with a representative from the Beauregard Parish Sheriff’s Office, attended a pre-bid conference, Louisiana Workforce, LLC, in partnership with the Beauregard sheriff’s office, submitted the only bid.

Perkins is a former assistant warden at Louisiana State Prison at Angola who was earning $75,000 a year until his retirement in 2001. He also is a former business partner of both LeBlanc and Angola Warden Burl Cain. All that may or may not have played a part in the apparent easy manner in which Louisiana Workforce got the contract by default, but one competitor suggested that it may not have hurt.

It also may not have hurt that Perkins and Louisiana Workforce combined to pour nearly $40,000 into the political campaigns of five of the six sheriffs with whom Louisiana Workforce has contracts, or that another $15,000 was contributed to Bobby Jindal, or that thousands more to members of the legislature who sit on key committees like House Appropriations, House Criminal Justice or one of the three Senate judiciary committees.

Perhaps it is only a coincidence that Burl Cain asked for and received a favorable ruling from the State Board of Ethics in 2012 permitting him to be compensated for providing consulting services on a part-time basis to Louisiana Workforce—and even allowing him to have a “small minority ownership” in the company. It is not known whether or not Burl Cain actually performs any consulting work or receives any monetary recompense because while he, like all administrative personnel, is required to file a financial disclosure form with the state, he is not required to fill out a complete disclosure.

Even LeBlanc in 2006 received Ethics Board approval to offer consulting services or even own an interested in an unspecified work-release program.

Perkins said that while he feels Cain would be a valuable addition to his company and even though the Ethics Board approved such an arrangement, he felt that it would be a mistake for Cain to work for him while also serving as Angola warden.

But that does not by any measure preclude the presence of Cain influence on operations at Louisiana Workforce. The Louisiana prison system over the years has indisputably become a Cain family fiefdom.

DOC has something called Prison Enterprises which, on the surface, is a good thing in that it allows prisoners to learn marketable skills while at the same time providing a source of income to help fund prison operations. But Prison Enterprises is more than simply a means to sell soybeans, corn and cotton grown on the sprawling Angola farm; it is also a means of enrichment for enterprising (forgive the pun) entrepreneurs.

DOC’s own web page touts its Transitional Work Program (formerly work release) which certain eligible offenders may enter from one to three years prior to their release, “depending on the offense of conviction.” Participants “are required to work at an approved job and, when not working, they must return to the structured environment of the assigned facility,” the web page’s description of the program says. The “assigned facility,” of course, refers to the housing provided by private companies like Louisiana Workforce.

“Probation and Parole Officers are assigned monitoring responsibilities for contract transitional work programs,” it said. Claiming that transitional work programs are successful in assisting in the transition from prison back into the work force, the web page claims that 10 to 20 percent of offenders “remain with their employer upon release.”

Additionally, the two-paragraph description says, a second program called the Rehabilitation and Workforce Development Program, allows prisoners who have become skilled craftsmen to be placed in higher paying jobs where they “are able to make wages to maintain self-sufficiency.”

But then a peculiar thing occurs when readers are instructed to “click here” to see a list of transitional work programs throughout the state. Thinking we would find other companies similar to Louisiana Workforce, we clicked and presto! We were returned to DOC’s main page.

So, with Prison Enterprises overseeing the operations of DOC’s Transitional Work Program, who do you suppose presides over Prison Enterprises?

That would be Michael Moore, who earns $128,500 per year as Prison Enterprise Director. But serving right under him is none other than Marshall Cain, one of Burl Cain’s two sons who holds the title of DOC Prison Enterprise Regional Manager at $63,500 per year. Cain’s other sun, Nathan Cain, earns $109,000 per year as Warden of Avoyelles Correctional Center. (The elder Cain pulls down $167,200 as Angola Warden.)

But the key person in all this is Seth Smith, Burl Cain’s son-in-law, who earns $150,000 per year as a DOC Confidential Assistant. That’s more than his boss, LeBlanc, who makes $136,700 as DOC Secretary. So what does a confidential assistant do for that salary? Well, for openers, he assigns which prisoners go into the Transitional Work Program for parish sheriffs and private operators like Louisiana Workforce.

And since Louisiana Workforce gets to keep 62 percent of each prisoner’s earnings, plus $5 per day for each inmate it houses, it certainly would be to the company’s benefit to receive the most skilled workers for placement in the Transitional Work Program. After all, 62 percent of say, $15 per hour for skilled labor is considerable more than 62 percent of a minimum wage job like flipping hamburgers, for example.

One employer who hired an inmate through the program, wrote in a letter to the editor of the Baton Rouge Advocate last November that the system was rigged against the inmate. He cited an example of an inmate earning $200 per week. After the 62 percent is held out, he would be left with $76 before taxes and Social Security, leaving him only about $36 for a week’s work.

Then, he said, the program runs a commissary where inmates are charged “inflated prices” for necessities such as soap, toothpaste, deodorant, etc., leaving them with “virtually nothing to start a new life.” http://theadvocate.com/news/opinion/10768344-123/letter-inmates-left-with-pittance#comments

There are two sides of this scenario, of course. There is the argument that they are in prison because they committed a crime and therefore, should not be afforded favorable treatment. The other argument is that by working at below-market wages, they are keeping honest, law-abiding people from jobs they need to support their families.

But lost in both those arguments is the windfall profits reaped by the private vendors who are fortunate enough to have an inside track to the decision-makers at DOC and the sheriffs who run their own prisons.

Perkins and his company, Louisiana Workforce, LLC, have combined to contribute to five of the sheriffs with whom his company has contracts:

  • East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid Gautreaux: $15,000;
  • Livingston Parish Sheriff Jason Ard: $4,500;
  • Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal: $7,000;
  • Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Jerry Larpenter: $4,340;
  • West Feliciana Parish Sheriff Austin Daniel: $6,850.

But the combined $37,690 to those five sheriffs doesn’t end there; he and his company have also contributed $15,000 to Jindal and thousands more to members of key legislative committees.

Small wonder.

An article in the New Orleans Advocate on Oct. 13, 2014, noted among other things that with Louisiana Workforce’s acquisition of the Phelps Correction Center in DeRidder, the company had about 1,200 inmates working in its work-release program. At an average of say, 62 percent of an average of only $10 per hour, plus another $5 per day for housing each inmate, Louisiana Workforce would receive nearly $17 million a year. At an average of $12 per hour, the paper said, the income would approach $20 million annually. http://www.theneworleansadvocate.com/features/music/10477753-171/work-release-operator-with-ties-to

It’s a system open for abuse with only minimal oversight. On Sunday, Associated Press moved a story in which inmates at a privately-run Nashville, TN., jail operated by Corrections Corporation of America, the largest private prison operation in the U.S., say they worked without pay to build commemorative games, bird houses, dog beds, and plaques which prison officials then sold online and at a flea market. http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/crime/inmates-say-they-worked-for-free-for-jail-officials/ar-BBlNdCG?ocid=iehp

To back up their claim, two of the prisoners said they concealed their names and the number of the Tennessee statute that makes it illegal for prison officials to profit off inmate labor beneath pieces of wood nailed to the backs of the items.

In 2010, the Louisiana Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a report that said Louisiana Workforce employees forged or altered several dozen employer work-release forms and inmate authorization forms upon learning that DOC was going to make a site visit to its East Baton Rouge Parish facility. One employee, an assistant warden, admitted to forging at least 26 such forms and the OIG report said that higher-ups at Louisiana Workforce knew of the actions.

LeBlanc, in his response to the report, said that DOC had “no jurisdiction” to discipline the Louisiana Workforce staff, in effect saying that Louisiana Workforce is left to discipline itself.

And in 2013, the Legislative Auditor’s Office issued a report that challenged the use of inmate labor by then-Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Vernon Bourgeois to renovate a building used by Louisiana Workforce’s program. The audit said the cost of that labor was about $350,000 and the auditor’s office said the use of free inmate labor for the project may have been in violation of the Louisiana Constitution

To say the administration of Bobby Jindal has been steeped in double standards for nearly eight years now would be an understatement of monumental proportions. What else could one call it when $4.5 million is yanked away from Louisiana’s developmentally disadvantaged and handed over to one of the wealthiest families in the state for the ignoble purpose of funding repairs to a privately-owned $75 million auto racetrack in Jefferson Parish?

That precisely what was done in 2014 when the legislature approved the NGO (non-government organization) appropriation for NOLA Motorsports Park owned by Laney Chouest. The money was to pay for track improvements preparatory to the IndyCar Series race held in Avondale last April. But in order to make the funds available, Jindal had to prevail upon the Senate Finance Committee to remove the $4.5 million from the budget of the developmentally disabled.

But nowhere is the term double standard more clearly defined than in the manner in which Jindal or his administrative appointees have chosen to handle disciplinary matters involving law enforcement officials.

We have written extensively about the manner in which Murphy Painter was sacrificed for the benefit of mega-donors Tom Benson, members of his family and their businesses who have combined to pour more than $200,000 into Jindal campaigns since 2003.

And it was LouisianaVoice that broke the story in July of 2014 about the administration’s efforts to sneak a bill amendment through the legislature that would provide State Police Commander Col. Mike Edmonson an illegal $55,000-per-year increase in his retirement benefits even as thousands of other state retirees were denied minimal cost of living increases. Because of the publicity we gave to that bit of subterfuge, a state district judge ruled that the administration’s effort, fronted by State Sen. Neil Riser (R-Columbia), was unconstitutional.

But now LouisianaVoice has obtained documents from Louisiana State Police which reveal that a state trooper from Troop D in Lake Charles was given the symbolic slap on the wrist over a criminal complaint against him for sending threats of jail time and physical harm to and for conducting background checks on an individual with whom he had a running dispute.

Ironically, the token punishment meted out to State Trooper Jimmy Rogers coincided with the ongoing Painter investigation. Painter who, after being fired by Jindal, was indicted in 2012 by a federal grand jury on charges of using law enforcement databases between 2005 and 2010 for “non-official criminal justice purposes” by obtaining personal identification information and conducting illegal criminal background checks on people who had committed no crimes.

Louisiana Inspector General Stephen Street answers only to the governor and it was his office’s investigation that formed the basis of the federal indictment of Painter.

Painter, who LouisianaVoice said early on was the victim of retaliation by Jindal for not granting a liquor permit for Benson’s Champion Square outdoor venue across from the Superdome, was cleared of all charges in a trial in Federal District Court in Baton Rouge and the state was subsequently required to pony up more than $300,000 to pay his legal expenses.

Rogers, on the other hand, admitted to not only obtaining telephone numbers of the target of his wrath, but conducted a criminal background search on the individual, made threatening telephone calls to his residence and to his parents, threatened him on Facebook, in text messages, and phone calls using his position as a state trooper to threaten the man with bodily harm and even jail time, according to a nine-page, heavily redacted document (page three of the letter was redacted in its entirety) obtained from State Police.

Rogers’ punishment? A 240-hour reduction in pay (a 10 percent reduction for 30 pay periods). At $161.52 per pay period, that came to a $4,845.60 cut but sources indicate that was more than made up for in overtime Rogers was allowed to work during that period of just over a year.

The disciplinary letter of Nov. 19, 2010, signed by Edmonson, said Rogers had threatened the person “with physical harm” beginning on May 5, 2010, and that he initiated contact with the individual whose name was redacted and at least one other unidentified person on Facebook and the following day initiated “threatening and harassing text messages and phone calls to both.”

In Rogers’ May 6 text, which was provided to investigators, he even identified himself as “Trooper.” The victim told investigators that in subsequent conversations Rogers implied that he could “get away with anything” and could “do what you wanted and no one could touch you because you are a state trooper,” Edmonson said in his disciplinary letter.

Further, Rogers admitted in a taped statement that on May 6, he texted the dispatcher at State Police Troop D communications and asked her to look up the telephone number of the person. The dispatcher gave him two phone numbers which Rogers subsequently admitted “was strictly for personal use.”

The letter said, “It was independently confirmed by investigators through an off-line search that a criminal history was run (redacted) at your request.”

Apparently a third person emerged as a witness to Rogers’ vitriol. “(Redacted) all related to investigators that on May 9, 2010, you threatened (redacted) that you were in the position to do some damage to (redacted) and knew the right people,” Edmonson wrote in his letter. “All three confirm your May 9, 2010, telephone call with (redacted) was held on (redacted) speaker phone with (redacted) and (redacted) present and listening. They maintain that you offered to ‘swing for the title,’ and you threatened, ‘I am in the position to do some damage. I know the right people.’ Both (redacted) and (redacted) understood your threat to reference your position as a State Trooper.”

Edmonson continued by pointing out that Rogers then “attempted to contact (redacted) via telephone and text messaging, leaving messages on (redacted) parents’ residential phone and (redacted) cell phone. Recordings of those messages demonstrate that you related the following to (redacted):”

There followed completely redacted messages contained on the cell phones and land lines as well as a text message.

“(Redacted) also advised that you sent (redacted) two different pictures of (redacted) driver’s license photos to (redacted) iPhone on March 28, 2010. Through an off-line search, conducted in connection with this investigation by a Criminal Records Analyst, it was confirmed that you ran (redacted) criminal history on March 28, 2010, at 10:29 a.m. By your own admission, you obtained personal information for unofficial purposes. Text messages sent from your cell phone to (redacted) iPhone on March 28, 2010,…stated:

The entire content of that message was also redacted, but apparently contained a reference to threats of jail and bodily harm. “Your threatening (redacted) with jail and threatening (redacted) as detailed above, that you were in a position to do (redacted) damage were in violation of LSP (regulations).

“Your text messages to (redacted) and (redacted) as evidenced by their phone records and your voice messages to (redacted), as evidenced by the telephone recordings, were in the nature of a violation of criminal statute…,” Edmonson wrote.

Edmonson itemized other infractions of State Police regulations and state criminal laws which he said Rogers violated in his actions and ended by saying “Any future violations of this or any nature may result in more severe disciplinary action, including up to termination.”

LouisianaVoice is in possession of evidence of subsequent retaliatory actions by Rogers against other individuals and will be writing about these and other problems in Troop D in upcoming posts.

Meanwhile, we have requested that the Department of Public Safety provide copies of Edmonson’s letter that is not so heavily redacted. The names, addresses and telephone numbers of victims are not public record and we have no qualms with those being redacted. Likewise, ongoing investigations are not subject to the state’s public records laws but when we requested the file on Rogers, Edmonson’s letter was all we received. That letter was dated nearly five years ago and Rogers apparently did not appeal his punishment, so the investigation is presumed to be closed.

Accordingly, we maintain, and will pursue through all legal means available, if necessary, that the contents of the texts, emails, and voice mails to the targets of Rogers’ invectives which were the basis for his discipline are public records.

 

Three news stories on the last day of July and first day of August raised more questions than they answered about Bobby Jindal’s personal and campaign finances and, at the same time, re-opened a controversy over the funneling of $4.5 million in state funds to a family member of one of Jindal’s campaign contributors at the expense of Louisiana’s developmentally disabled.

It was a pair of stories by CNN and Associated Press on July 25 and Aug. 2, however, that again reminded us of the insanity of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision which opened the door for the corporatocracy and its affiliated special interests to usurp the democratic process from America’s citizenry.

The first story, on Friday, July 31, revealed that Jindal’s net worth was somewhere in the range of $3.3 million and $11.3 million. That’s a pretty big range, to be sure, but the federal financial disclosure forms are written that way—deliberately, most likely, to allow elected officials to comply with financial reporting laws while still managing to conceal their true worth.

The following day, August 1, two stories appeared in the Baton Rouge Advocate. The first, on Page 3A, announced that boat builder Gary Chouest, one of Jindal’s major donors—and a grateful beneficiary of legislative projects pushed by Jindal—contributed $1 million to Believe Again, a super PAC supporting Jindal. In that same issue of the Advocate, on page 3B was a story that a company headed by a Chouest family member who had received $4.5 million from the state in 2014 was being sued over money owed Andretti Sports Marketing by the Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana and NOLA Motorsports Park. The owner of NOLA Motorsports Park is Laney Chouest and the amount in question is…$1 million.

More on that later.

It was the pair of stories by CNN and AP, however, which shone the glaring light of undue influence of PAC money, particularly in national elections. Julie Bykowicz and Jack Gillum, writing for AP, noted that it took U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz three months to raise $10 million for his 2015 presidential campaign but a single check from hedge fund manager Robert Mercer eclipsed that number with a single, $11 million contribution to Keep the Promise, Cruz’s super PAC.

Not to be outdone, billionaire brothers Farris and Dan Wilks, who amassed their fortunes in the West Texas fracking boom, chipped in $15 million to Cruz’s super PAC, according to a July 25 CNN story by Elliot Smilowitz. Should we wonder which side of the fracking debate Cruz comes down on? If he wins the Republican nomination and is subsequently elected President, should West Texas residents, concerned about the quality of their drinking water or about their sick and/or dying livestock, even bother appealing to Cruz’s humanitarian side?

You can check that box “No.”

But back to Jindal and his unexplained wealth. A 44-year-old multi-millionaire can’t be found on any old street corner, especially a 44-year-old who has spent all but a single year of his adult working life in the public sector. Upon completion of his studies at Oxford University, he joined the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. for about 11 months. He left McKinsey to become a congressional intern for U.S. Rep. Jim McCrery before being appointed by Gov. Mike Foster as Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals at the tender age of 24. Four years later, he appointed the youngest-ever president of the University of Louisiana System and in 2001, he was named by President George W. Bush as Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services for Planning and Evaluation. After losing his first campaign for governor to Kathleen Blanco in 2003, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives the following year and was re-elected in 2006 before being elected governor in 2007.

In 2005, a year into his first term as a congressman, Jindal’s net worth was reported to be between $1.18 million and $3.17 million. A short year later, that estimate was between $1.3 million and $3.5 million, according to federal financial reports, ranking Jindal as the 118th richest of 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives. By 2015, ten years following that initial report, his net worth has tripled to $3.8 million on the low range or $11.3 million on the high range—all on a public servant’s salary of $165,200 per year as a congressman, for all of three years, and $130,000 per year as governor for less than eight years.

He listed on his financial reports, besides his salary, income from investments. But how does an elected official find the time to tend to the business of the nation or the state and see to the concerns of his constituents, engage in re-election fundraising, and play the market? Jindal, the avowed advocate of transparency, has never explained how his wealth was attained other than to quip, “I tried to be born wealthy, but that plan didn’t work.” As the son of immigrant parents, both state employees, he is probably correct in saying he was not born rich.

But what he did do was coerce the Senate Finance Committee in 2014 into ripping $4.5 million from the budget for Louisiana’s developmentally disabled and reallocating the money for the Verizon IndyCar Series race at the NOLA Motorsports Park in Jefferson Parish. It is that $4.5 million that has come into question in U.S. District Court in New Orleans.

In order to bring the IndyCar race to Avondale, NOLA Motorsports created a nonprofit affiliate, or non-government organization (NGO), to apply for and receive a $4.5 million from the state to fund improvements at the track.

Andretti Sports Marketing subsequently signed a three-year contract to organize the Grand Prix beginning in 2015. Andretti, in its lawsuit, claims NOLA Motorsports Park used $3.4 million of that state grant to pay for improvements which did not leave enough to pay Andretti and other vendors. NOLA, on the other hand, claims it used only $2.6 million on improvements.

It should be a simple matter for NOLA Motorsports Park to verify the expenditure of every nickel of that $4.5 million state grant. After all, under rules enacted after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, any NGO that receives money from the state general fund is required to provide quarterly reports on how the money is used. Officials of the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism verified that all required records were submitted by NOLA Motorsports. “We would not have released the money unless they were incompliance,” said one CRT official.

And even as the claims and counterclaims were surfacing in Court, Gary Chouest was plowing $1 million into Believe Again, reminding us to, well, believe again that the Citizens United Supreme Court decision snatched control of America’s elections, and necessarily, of the government itself, from its citizens and hand delivered that control to the corporatocracy and its well-financed lobbyists.

But let us not forget that while all those millions were being tossed around what with Gary Chouest dropping a cool million on Jindal’s super PAC and with opposing parties quarreling in federal court over payments to promote Laney Chouest’s $75 million, (did we mention it is privately-owned?) racetrack, the big loser in all this were Louisiana’s developmentally disabled.

With the lone exception of State Sen. Dan Claitor (R-Baton Rouge), the Senate Finance Committee, in taking its marching orders from Jindal, removed $4.5 million from the developmentally disabled in 2014—just a year after he vetoed a 2013 appropriation of extra funding to help shorten the waiting list for services for those same developmentally disabled.

State campaign finance records show that between 2007 and 2010—long before the 2014 $1 million contribution to Believe Again—members of the Chouest family and their various business interests contributed $106,000 to Jindal—all in the interest of good government, of course.

 

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