Anyone who thought retired State Police Lieutenant Leon “Bucky” Millet would eventually get tired of calling out State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson, the Louisiana State Troopers Association (LSTA) or the Louisiana State Police Commission (LSPC) just doesn’t know Bucky Millet—or wife Vivian, for that matter.
Both have been fixtures at LSPC’s monthly meetings for more than a year now, driving in all the way from Lake Arthur, and at times have been a real pain in the posteriors for the commission. Millet has warned commissioners on more than one occasions that continuing to allow Edmonson to stack the commission with his lap dogs will eventually come to no good. Looking back, his repeated warnings have suddenly gone from the predictions of a disgruntled retiree to the prophetic words of someone with unerringly keen insight—and foresight.
Millet, fed up with the direction being taken by the organization he once served so proudly, has now fired off formal complaints to Gov. John Bel Edwards, Attorney General Jeff Landry, Inspector General Stephen Street, State Police Lt. Col. Murphy of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety’s (DPS) Bureau of Investigations, and East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore.
In his separate letter to each of the five, he called for an investigation of possible malfeasance and payroll fraud on the part of four State Troopers who took an unmarked State Police vehicle to California last October.
While LSPC Chairman State Trooper T.J. Doss and other commissioners have chosen to ignore his monthly warnings and have been generally dismissive of his questions the way a busy parent would dismiss a child’s questions, the LSPC now finds itself in the uncomfortable position of observing from the sidelines as a formal investigation gets underway of the very agency it is supposed to have been overseeing.
That investigation by auditors from the Division of Administration (DOA) was ordered by Gov. John Bel Edwards after it was learned that Edmonson had 15 of his subordinates (including the four who drove the vehicle assigned to Deputy Superintendent Charles Dupuy) to San Diego to witness Edmonson receiving an award for which a former State Trooper of the Year was originally nominated. LSP headquarters, meanwhile, is using an earlier 2015 unsuccessful nomination of Edmonson for the award as justification for stiffing Maj. Carl Saizan’s nomination.
It’s not as if the LSTA hasn’t tried to silence the affable Millet. After Millet and three other retirees challenged the association’s laundering more than $45,000 in illegal campaign contributions through its executive director’s personal checking account, LSTA took quick action. After it became evident that they weren’t going away, the association, without explanation or comment, simply revoked their memberships.
LSTA is supposed to be an association of active and retired state troopers established to work to benefit troopers, retirees and their families and to work for better conditions for troopers. But it’s evident those benefits extend only to those who keep their mouths shut. Apparently, there is some hidden clause in its bylaws that prohibits dissention among the ranks.
Again, if that move was intended to silence Millet, it only backfired by making him even more vocal and more determined than ever to ask questions and to challenge decisions. He has proven himself to be a nettlesome irritation over the pathetic, so-called “investigation” of the LSTA members who authorized the contributions, as well as the association’s endorsement of Edwards—its first-ever political endorsement.
Natchitoches attorney, former legislator and political ally of Edwards Taylor Townsend was hired by the LSPC under a $75,000 contract to conduct the pseudo-investigation after commission legal counsel Lenore Feeney said she could not conduct such an investigation. Neither, apparently, could Townsend, even though that didn’t prevent him from accepting payments under his contract. The final product of his investigation was not a written report as one might reasonably expect, but simply an oral recommendation that “no action be taken.” Not exactly the most bang for the buck.
Like the San Diego trip’s $72,000 costs in travel, lodging, meals and salary, Townsend’s contract stands as another $75,000 frittered away with nothing, repeat, nothing to show for it.
Doss and his allies on the commission must have thought they’d dodged a bullet despite fellow commissioner Lloyd Grafton’s observation that the entire affair looked a lot like “money laundering” to him. He should know. Grafton, a former federal DEA agent who was instrumental in thwarting a coup d’état in the Caribbean island nation of Dominica, is no stranger to sniffing out money laundering. He eventually resigned from the commission in disgust over what he called a “lack of integrity.”
Millet, tired of constantly having to bicker with Doss and other commission members, has now taken the next logical step, spurred on by that San Diego episode, in filing his complaint.
While he is asking for an investigation of the four who drove, it is critical to remember they took a vehicle permanently assigned to Edmonson’s second-in-command—pretty clear evidence that they didn’t act on their own volition but were instructed to drive some 2,000 miles in order to help bolster Edmonson’s ego. That raises the question of who ordered the four to pile into that Expedition and head west?
Accordingly, no investigation should be held without including Edmonson (who had to have ordered them to drive the vehicle) and Dupuy, whose vehicle was used—obviously with his permission.
But Millet is more concerned about the overtime charged by each of the four, including 12 hours each for seven days of travel. Two legs of their trip, from the Grand Canyon to Las Vegas, and from Las Vegas to San Diego were trips of about 250 miles or so that should have taken about four hours each but for which each man charged 12 hours. That’s 96 total hours—32 hours at overtime rates—to travel about 500 miles.
While it’s probably a waste of time to ask Street to conduct an investigation given the effectiveness displayed by his office over the past several years, any investigation undertaken by Paul would be even more fruitless; he’s being asked to investigate the actions of Edmonson, his boss. That ain’t happening.
But if Landry launches his own investigation, the results should be fascinating when compared to that of the governor’s office, given the acrimonious relationship between the two offices and given Landry’s obvious desire to run against Edwards in 2019.
But all of those will pale in comparison to the ticklish position T.J. Doss will find himself in if Millet does the expected and requests another investigation—by the LSPC.
We have speculated on this site several times in the recent past as to what Doss, a state trooper who owes his position as commission chairman to Edmonson (not to mention his job), will do if called upon to investigate his boss.
As the late C.B. Forgotston would say if he were still with us: You can’t make this stuff up.