It appears to be a simple case of one man’s word against another. In this case, however, it’s the word of the Louisiana State Police (LSP) top dog versus a subordinate who happens to be interim president of the Louisiana State Troopers Association (LSTA).
LouisianaVoice has received conflicting reports from State Police Superintendent and the president of the Louisiana State Troopers Association about whose idea it to request that LSTA write a letter to Governor-elect John Bel Edwards endorsing Edmonson for reappointment to lead state police for another four years.
The board last Monday (Nov. 30) voted unanimously not to write the letter.
The board also voted on a new policy whereby in the future, the LSTA membership will be polled before the association again takes action to endorse any candidate for political office.
Twice within 24 hours—once in a meeting on Thursday and again Friday through Public Information Officer Doug Cain—denied that he had any part in the board’s consideration of such a letter.
LSTA Interim President Stephen LaFargue, however, confirmed—also for the second time—that Edmonson asked him about the prospects of LSTA sending a letter to Edwards asking that Edmonson be reappointed.
LouisianaVoice received a copy a summary of Monday’s (Nov. 30) LSTA board meeting held in Baton Rouge at the LSTA office. The minutes were written by a member of an affiliate troop who attended the meeting and who has asked not to be identified by name or troop.
The summary of the meeting said, “Interim President S. Lafargue stated he was contacted by the Colonel to write a letter on behalf of the LSTA to Governor elect J.B. Edwards on his behalf. That said, Interim President S. Lafargue made a motion to deny the request. Troop C seconded the motion and the motion passed 11-0 by the board.”
Membership of the board is comprised of one representative from each of the state’s nine LSP troops as well as one representative from LSP Headquarters and state police retirees.
The Troop I (Lafayette) representative made a motion, seconded by Troop A (Baton Rouge) to pass a by-law that in the future, LSTA “will not endorse any candidate in any political race.
The meeting summary said that LaFargue “took responsibility” for the LSTA endorsement of Edwards in the Nov. 21 runoff election against U.S. Sen. David Vitter. Edwards won over Vitter by a 60-40 percentage point margin.
That effort failed by a 6-5 vote, but Troop C (Gray) made a second motion, seconded by Headquarters, which was passed. That motion said in the future, when LSTA wants to endorse any candidate, a ballot will be mailed to each member who will vote on the proposal. The vote was 7-4 in favor of that motion.
Upon receipt of the meeting summary, we contacted Cain who confirmed that Edmonson on Thursday had said he played no part in initiating an effort to generate a letter in support of his reappointment. When told what the summary reflected, Cain said he would double check with his boss. A few minutes later he called back to say that Edmonson continued to deny his role in any effort to produce such letter.
Cain suggested that we check with LaFargue to obtain his version of events.
When contacted, LaFargue was asked about minutes of the meeting and he immediately asked, “What minutes? The minutes haven’t been written yet and I’m the one who has to approve them.”
We told him we were referring to unofficial meetings compiled by an affiliate member and we read the passage in which he was credited with saying he was contacted by Edmonson who requested the letter.
“What happened,” he said, “was that Col. Edmonson attended the board meeting and he told me he was going to apply for reappointment. He then asked about the possibility of the LSTA board writing a letter of endorsement. I told him I didn’t know, that it would have to be taken up by the board.”
Edmonson had earlier insisted to LouisianaVoice that he took no part in the request to write the letter. “It’s no secret that I would like another four years at my job,” he said, “but I would never ask someone to write a letter like that or to do anything on my behalf. This has to be the governor’s decision and I would never attempt to influence him in such a way.”
Following is an excerpt from the summary that was provided by the LSTA affiliate. The paragraph pertaining to the proposed letter of endorsement is in boldface:
On, Monday, November 30, your LSTA held a board meeting in Baton Rouge at the LSTA Office. The following is a summary of the meeting:
Interim President S. Lafargue took responsibility for the endorsement of the governor elect.
Interim President S. Lafargue stated he was contacted by the Colonel to write a letter on behalf of the LSTA to Governor elect J.B. Edwards on his behalf. That said, Interim President S. Lafargue made a motion to deny the request. Troop C seconded the motion and the motion passed 11-0 by the board.
- Troop I President D. Latham made a motion that in the future, the LSTA will not endorse any candidate in any political race and this will become a by-law of the LSTA. Troop A seconded the motion and the motion failed 6-5.
The vote breakdown is as follows:
For: Troops A, B, F, I, and Retired
Against; Troops C, D, E, G, L, and HQ
- Troop C made a motion if in the future the LSTA wants to endorse a candidate, a ballot will be mailed to each member who will decide whether or not that candidate receives the endorsement from the LSTA. HQ seconded the motion and the motion passed 7-4.
The vote breakdown is as follows:
For: Troops C, D, E, G, L, HQ, and Retired
Against; Troops A, B, F, and I.