State Police Commission member William Goldring claims in an email that he ceased making political contributions after he received a letter from former Gov. Bobby Jindal’s office nearly three years ago informing him of a constitutional prohibition against political activity.
Copies of campaign reports obtained by LouisianaVoice, however, indicate that four companies controlled by Goldring contributed more than $95,000 to various political campaigns subsequent to the July 3, 2013 letter.
The State Police Commission is currently wrestling with an investigation of political contributions by the Louisiana State Police Association (LSTA) even as three commission members, including Goldring, have come under scrutiny for their own contributions to political campaigns.
Meanwhile, LouisianaVoice has learned of a bill currently pending in the legislature that would repeal the constitutional prohibition against political activity not only by commission members and state police, but state civil service workers as well.
Senate Bill 76 by State Sen. Ryan Gatti (R-Bossier City) calls for a constitutional amendment to be approved by voters that would repeal the prohibition against political activity but would leave intact the prohibition against civil service employees seeking political office. http://www.legis.la.gov/legis/ViewDocument.aspx?d=978216
Gatti’s bill, which would require two-thirds passage of both chambers, would delete the passage of the current law that says no person shall “solicit contributions for political purposes from any classified employee or official” while leaving in the prohibition against “use or attempt to use (one’s) position in the state or city service to punish or coerce the political action of a classified employee.”
All that sounds great in theory but we also know how the subtleties of the system work. Refuse to contribute to the boss’s candidate and suddenly the employee begins to get less than favorable performance reviews. He starts getting written up for minor infractions considered insignificant before. The chances for promotion dwindle and eventually disappear altogether.
That’s precisely why Civil Service was created in Louisiana in the first place by Gov. Sam Jones (1940-1944). Gov. Earl Long (1944-1948) dismantled Civil Service in favor of the old spoils system but Gov. Jimmie Davis reinstated Civil Service during his second term (1960-1964).
It’s not enough, apparently, to siphon contributions from the lobbyists, state contractors and PACs, but now they want to bleed state employees already fearful for their jobs after the eight-year reign of terror by Bobby Jindal. To put it simply as possible, this bill would be nothing but a return to the Huey Long Deduct Box era.
While restricting political activity on the part of classified employees, civil service rules also give them protection from just the kind of coercion they will be forced to endure should Gatti’s bill succeed. And if you don’t believe that intimidation will become a reality, I have a beautiful bridge in Brooklyn I’ll sell you cheap.
But back to Goldring, Freddie Pitcher and Commission Chairman Franklin Kyle, the three whose political contributions have put them in the spotlight because of their role in investigating political contributions by LSTA.
LouisianaVoice made another public records request, this one for “all correspondence from any commission members relative to any notice of resignation from the commission.”
We learned from that request that each of the three fell back on the explanation that they didn’t know the rules. That’s a thin excuse. For Pitcher who served as a district court judge and then as a judge on the First Circuit Court of Appeal, pleading ignorance of the law is especially disappointing.
This is the email string we received pursuant to our request:
From: Franklin Kyle
Sent: Tuesday, March 29, 2016 5:15 PM
To: Freddie Pitcher Jr.
Cc: Cathy Derbonne; Lenore Feeney; Thomas Doss; lfgrafton; Donald Breaux; Calvin W. Braxton, Sr.; Bill Goldring
Subject: RE: State Police Commission / Resignation
I appreciate this email, and completely understand your position. I, too, in my first term, was appointed, sworn in, and given an extensive rule book in which to abide by. It is a cumbersome document, but admittedly one that was provided. I think it would behoove all new in-coming commissioners to be fully briefed on the restrictions placed upon their appointment by the Executive Director and staff so these issues will not occur in the future. Had that been done, I am confident that this issue would have never arisen.
With regards to your service on the Commission, I can’t thank you enough for your time, insight, and experience in dealing with the charges of this body. You have truly been an asset to the Commission, and a wonderful blessing to work with. On behalf of the entire Commission and staff, I wish the best in all you do.
Franklin Kyle, Chairman
From: Freddie Pitcher Jr.
Sent: Tuesday, March 29, 2016 3:15 PM
To: Franklin Kyle
Cc: Cathy Derbonne; Lenore Feeney; Thomas Doss; lfgrafton; Donald Breaux; Calvin W. Braxton, Sr.; bill@
Subject: Re: State Police Commission / Resignation
Dear Chairman Kyle,
After reading Bill Goldring’s email I feel compelled to weigh in on the conversation regarding Commission members making campaign contributions. Like Bill, I did not have the benefit of an orientation when I was sworn in as commission member. Nor was I made aware of such prohibition when Bill or our esteemed Chairman was made aware of the prohibition. It was not until this controversy regarding the State Trooper’s Association members questioning the use of association funds to make campaign contribution that I was made privy to the rule through Commissioner Braxton. I then had to call Cathy to find that my name was being mentioned very prominently in a Blog that was reporting on the contribution issue. But for the last minute heads up, I would have been completely caught off guard by the reporter last week who wanted to know if I was being forced or pressured to step down from the Commission. As you may have read, I responded by stating that “I am stepping down of my on volition.”
Now that I am fully aware of the prohibition, I feel that I must step down as a Commission Member so I will not feel constrained in my desire to help persons who I would like to support politically. I ran for elective office twice and would not have been successful but the campaign contributions I received from my friends and supporters.
Like all of us who serve on the Commission, it was a fulfillment of my civic responsibility. At no time during my service was I presented with an issue where I was conflicted because a contribution I may have made. And had one presented itself I surely would have recused myself.
I wish the Commission members and staff all the best as you carry out the charge of the Commission.
On Mar 29, 2016, at 12:42 PM, Bill Goldring wrote:
After reading Franklin Kyle’s letter, I felt a need to go the record to be responsive. When first asked to go on the Louisiana State Police Commission by Governor Jindal I hesitated, in that over many decades I had been asked by many governors to serve on various boards and commissions, all of which I had turned down (i.e. Louisiana Board of Regents). Only because of my keen interest and involvement and support of law enforcement for the past 30 years, did I accept. Upon joining the commission there was absolutely no orientation or rules that were given to me. Approximately 3 years ago, there was a vacancy on the commission and I was asked who might be a suitable candidate to fill the spot. I suggested a prominent businessman, Boysie Bollinger who was accepted and sworn in. Within 24 hours he resigned when his attorney informed him of a ruling forbidding anyone on the commission to make political contributions or be involved in a political campaign. Mr. Bollinger personally called me to make me aware of the ruling which I was never informed. I then called and wrote to the governors office to get a full explanation of the responsibilities of commission members, which were never given to me. Since then I have been solicited personally (orally and by mail) by hundreds of people who I have continually turned down as well as sent them a copy of my enclosed correspondence. Just a few are listed below (feel free to contact them).
U.S. SENATOR DAVID VITTER
U.S. SENATOR MARY LANDRIEU
MAYOR MITCH LANDRIEU
U.S. SENATOR WILLIAM CASSIDY
U.S. CONGRESMAN CEDRIC RICHMOND
U.S. CONGRESSMAN JOHN FLEMING
CITY COUNCILPERSONS STACY HEAD, LATOYA CANTRELL AND SUSAN GUIDRY.
I certainly take my duties and responsibilities seriously and have abided by the framework and regulation of the commission. There is no reward or personal gain by my serving on the Louisiana State Police Commission and only do so as a civic responsibility.
PS- as a final note, I fully understand rules and regulations put on state troopers, but cannot understand commission members having to adhere to same in that we do not come in contact with the public.
It’s perception, Mr. Goldring and when you’re in public service, perception is everything.
Candor is part of the equation making up perception and you haven’t been completely candid.
While Goldring did in fact cease all individual political contributions following that 2013 letter from Jindal Executive Counsel Thomas Enright, companies that he controls most certainly did not.
Among the recipients of his corporate generosity were legislators, political action committees, State Treasurer John Kennedy, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, failed attorney general candidate John Young, Gov. John Bel Edwards, and several minor candidates.