To call Wednesday’s confirmation hearings by the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee on the reappointment of State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson a love fest would be grossly inaccurate.
What transpired during the 21-minute “grilling” of Edmonson more closely resembled a group hug—or more accurately, a group butt-kissing—than a real consideration of the candidate’s qualifications to serve another four years as head of the state’s law enforcement agency.
The committee took no vote on confirmation on Wednesday but will re-convene before the current session closes to vote on all nominees.
Before going any further, it is important to know which committee member asked specific questions about how a state trooper who twice had sex with a woman while on duty—once in the back seat of his patrol car—managed to keep his job under Edmonson.
It is vital to know which member asked how a trooper in Troop D was allowed to work a couple of hours and then go home to sleep the rest of his shift for years before LouisianaVoice revealed the payroll fraud and why three separate supervisors who knew of that activity but did nothing went undisciplined.
Which committee member inquired about the promotion of a Troop D lieutenant to captain and troop commander—after it was learned he was abusing prescription drugs on the job? And which member wanted more information about that same captain being caught lying (a firing offense) but who was never disciplined?
Likewise, voters should know which committee member demanded to know how a lieutenant in Troop F could be caught abetting an underage girl’s entry onto the gaming floor of a Vicksburg, Mississippi, casino, fined more than $600, and then promoted to captain and commander of Troop F.
It would be interesting to know which committee member probed the reason Jill Boudreaux was allowed to take an early retirement incentive buyout, receive 300 hours in accrued leave pay, retire for one day and return to work—with a promotion to a higher position—the very next day, all while pocketing about $59,000 to which she was not entitled.
And which committee member demanded to know why high-ranking state police administrative personnel were allowed to reside in the State Police Academy VIP quarters while going through marital problems? The latest to do so is Interim Undersecretary Custodian of Records of the Office of Management and Finance within the Department of Public Safety Maj. Jason Starnes who is reported to be currently living there, courtesy of Louisiana taxpayers. The VIP quarters are unofficially known as the “Dupuy Suite” in honor of Edmonson’s Chief of Staff Charles Dupuy reportedly stayed there on the state dime following the breakup of his first marriage.
And of course, we’d all love to know who spoke up to ask questions about that furtive amendment tacked onto an innocent bill in the closing minutes of the 2014 legislative session that almost gave Edmonson an illegal $30,000 per year bump in his retirement. Only a tip to LouisianaVoice from an anonymous source thwarted that attempt even though the bill, with the amendment intact, passed and was actually signed by Bobby Jindal.
With no need to keep readers in suspense any longer, here are the identities of the committee members vigilant enough to seek answers to those nagging questions:
No one, no one, no one, no one, no one, no one, no one, and no one.
Here is the link to the video of the 92-minute committee meeting. Scroll over to the 1:12 (that’s one hour and 12 minutes into the hearing) mark to hear Edmonson inspiration opening remarks and those of the committee members (if you can stomach it).
That’s correct. The people you sent to Baton Rouge to look out for our interests never opened their yaps a single time to ask a single question about the string of improprieties linked to the administration of one Mike Edmonson. Not one, not once.
That’s not to say a few of the members didn’t speak up. Several did and their fawning and slobbering all over Edmonson was nothing short of nauseating.
Take Sen. Mike Walsworth (R-West Monroe): the guy was so infatuated with Edmonson that he couldn’t stop talking. Literally. The man didn’t seem to know when to shut up. Even Edmonson appeared embarrassed at Walsworth’s blathering about what a wonderful job he was doing as head of state police, keeping us safe and all.
At least Sen. Neil Riser (R-Columbia) did ask one question that was relevant. That was about the state troopers detailed to patrol the New Orleans French Quarter. (Surely you didn’t think it was Riser who asked about that amendment that nearly gave Edmonson that raise. It was Riser who authored the amendment in the first place, though he first denied it before finally fessing up.
Sens. Greg Tarver (D-Shreveport), Troy Carter (D-New Orleans), Jack Donahue (R-Mandeville), Jim Fannin (R-Jonesboro), and Committee Chair Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orleans) each took turns trying to out-snorkel each other and folks, it was not a pretty sight. To say they were blowing smoke up his toga simply isn’t descriptive enough.
The nearest anyone came to alluded to any of the myriad of problems that have brought trooper morale down to ground zero was when Peterson made a passing remark about “disgruntled employees.”
Peterson then cautioned Edmonson that there are differences between Bobby Jindal and Gov. John Bel Edwards (no kidding?) and that there are not different philosophies that he should be cognizant of. The jury’s still out as to just what the hell she was talking about.
After the committee had strewn rose petals (and possibly even palm leaves) in Edmonson’s path, he was appropriately humble.
“I’m not perfect, but gosh, I try to be,” he gushed.