On Tuesday, millions of Americans marched to the polls to cast ballots for President in what is a clear demonstration to the rest of the world that we live in a free society where citizens can say what they want about their leaders without fear of reprisals.
Someone should remind the Louisiana State Troopers’ Association (LSTA) of that.
If additional evidence that the LSTA does little else than attend parties and conventions while brooking no dissention from its membership, there is the ongoing purge of retiree members who dared question activities of its board which LouisianaVoice just learned about.
At the same time LouisianaVoice learned of the reprisals against dissent, we also examined LSTA TAX RETURNS which show that the organization devotes only a small portion of its revenue to charitable causes despite its claims to the contrary. Instead, LSTA has placed about $1 million in trusts, equities and options, mutual funds and money market funds while doing little for the welfare of its members.
LSTA operates Louisiana State Troopers Charities as a 501(c) (3) charitable organization
It also invested more than $200,000 in fundraising activities during 2013, the latest year for which records are available. At the same time, it spent about $28,000 in “grants and other assistance to governments and organizations.”
Among its other expenses were $184,000 for salaries and benefits; $112,400 for conventions, conferences and meetings and nearly $82,000 for travel.
The LSTA is a fraternal organization representing the men and women of the Louisiana State Police. The LSTA represents approximately 97 percent of the commissioned officers as well as a “substantial portion of the state police retirees.”
But those who dare think for themselves need not apply.
The number of retired members has just been reduced by at least four.
LouisianaVoice has learned that four retirees who questioned the authority of LSTA to make political contributions through its executive director in 2015 have been sent letters informing them they are no longer welcome as members of the fraternal organizations they devoted their working lives for.
State civil service rules, which extend to state troopers, prohibit political activity (including campaign contributions) on the part of classified employees.
This precision surgical procedure being carried out on its membership—to remove an inconvenient wart—is evidence of the influence that State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson has over LSTA despite Edmonson’s repeated contention that he has no direct involvement in the association’s activities.
As further illustration of the influence of Edmonson—and LSTA’s propensity to ignore the wishes of its membership—affiliated troops throughout the state voted against expulsion, LouisianaVoice has learned. The only vote to expel the retired members came from headquarters in Baton Rouge.
So much for the democratic process.
One of those retirees, Bucky Millet of Lake Arthur, has been a particular source of irritation to the association, attending monthly meetings of the Louisiana State Police Commission since last December to challenge actions by both the commission and association.
“I was a member of LSTA for 40 years,” Millet says. “Now they tell me I’m not welcome.”
Millet was instrumental in prodding the commission to at least go through the motions of a pseudo-investigation of the association’s funneling campaign contributions to political candidates through its executive director David Young.
That investigation was turned over to Natchitoches attorney Taylor Townsend, a confidant of Gov. John Bel Edwards, who essentially punted. Townsend declined to even issue a written report, which would have become a public record. He also neglected to include a digital recording—a recording that he possessed then and possesses now—of an admission by LSTA officers that they had violated state ethics regulations in contributing to several political candidates through Young.
So, when Millet and other retirees who were members of LSTA questioned the propriety—and the legality—of the contributions, the lines were effectively drawn. Those trouble-making retirees had targets on their backs from that moment on.
And now, even as 100 million Americans cast their votes in the greatest democracy the world has ever known, we learn there is no room for dissention in what should be a beacon of democracy and freedom of expression—the Louisiana State Troopers Association, the fraternal organization that represents those who are supposed to be the very guardians of our freedoms, our protectors.
Perhaps the leadership of LSTA should take a high school civics refresher course.