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Archive for the ‘Campaign Contributions’ Category

After viewing WVUE-TV Lee Zurik’s report on the Louisiana State Police Commission (LSPC), several things are abundantly clear:

  • If a State Police report is accurate, commission member Calvin Braxton must go but it has to be a package deal with fellow member Jared Caruso-Riecke also being shown the door.
  • The commission, embroiled in tawdry political theatrics, is no longer functional if, indeed, it really ever was. It is incapable of autonomy and must be abandoned and Louisiana State Police (LSP) brought back under the management of the Louisiana Civil Service Commission.
  • In the alternative, if it is to remain intact, there must be put in place a prohibition against a state trooper’s serving as chairman.

LouisianaVoice has been upfront in its past support of Braxton, primarily because he is something of a maverick who refused to take his marching orders from former State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson. He often bucked the rest of the board and he asked probing questions that made some other members more than a little uncomfortable. The commission needed such a member.

Our 180-flip, based in large part on Zurik’s excellent REPORT Monday night, isn’t because Braxton had a couple of tickets fixed—or that he apparently imposed on then-LSPC Executive Director Cathy Derbonne to write letters on his behalf in efforts to put the fix in.

Who among us has never had a ticket taken care of by friends in the right places? In the spirit of full disclosure, I have on a couple of occasions. My first was as a 21-year-old and was issued as the result of an accident that I still maintain, after 52 years, was not my fault. Not knowing any better, I showed up in court in Farmerville in Union Parish only to have District Attorney Ragan Madden (he represented the 3rd Judicial District, which includes Union and Lincoln, my home parish) meet me at the back of the courtroom. “What’re you doing here? I dismissed your ticket. Go home.”

Wow. And I didn’t even ask. Guess he felt the accident wasn’t my fault either.

In the interest of full disclosure, it should be noted that I also paid a few tickets along the way, even though in two cases, I was offered the fix, but politely declined. Also in the interest of full disclosure, none of the tickets were for anything major (other than the accident)—a rolling stop and a couple of speeding offenses but only about 15 mph over the limit.

When fellow blogger and occasional LouisianaVoice contributor Robert Burns suggested the ticket-fixing would force Gov. John Bel Edwards to remove Braxton from the commission, my first rhetorical question was: How many tickets do you suppose the governor’s brother, Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff Daniel Edwards, may have fixed over the years?

No, it wasn’t the attempt to get tickets fixed that concerned me. It was Zurik’s revelation that Braxton had apparently attempted to have the state trooper who arrested his daughter for DUI transferred and that he implied that as a member of LSPC, he might be disinclined to help the trooper should he ever find himself before the commission for disciplinary action.

Those allegations were contained in a lengthy report by Troop E Commander Captain J.D. Oliphant to the Region 3 Command Inspector that was brandished by Zurik.

Such behavior on the part of a member of the commission that oversees the actions of Louisiana State Troopers in unacceptable. Period.

Granted, Zurik blindsided Braxton at the LSPC meeting last Thursday. Some call it “ambush journalism,” but Braxton has exhibited a reluctance to talk to anyone in the media, LouisianaVoice included, and the direct approach was apparently the only one available to Zurik.

And Braxton’s sudden memory loss concerning his communications with Derbonne was clumsy and was certainly less than convincing.

So why would I insist that Caruso-Riecke be removed from the commission along with Braxton?

Not because he has been a divisive force since his appointment by Gov. Edwards, though he has certainly been that.

My contention is that while Braxton has been issued tickets and then tried to get them fixed, Caruso-Riecke has made it a point of considerable pride that he avoids tickets because…

He cheats. He openly violates the law and even boasts about it on his internet Web page.

You can hear it in his own words HERE and about his wager with Team Texas HERE.

You see, Riecke, who is worth an estimated $70 million, has a lot of time on his hands to pursue his hobby as a star in a TV reality show in which he uses his modified Mercedes in cross-country rally competition, tearing down the nation’s highways at speeds of up to 140 mph.

His vehicle is equipped with two in-dash police scanners with more than 1,000 channels—concealed by a fake dashboard, a handheld scanner and several cellphones, all used to evade law enforcement on public highways.

But here’s the real clincher: his car has 10 separate license plates to help evade law enforcement.

That raises the obvious question of how one gets 10 separate license plates issued to the same vehicle. Or does he pull plates from other cars to use to escape police?

Well, he is a licensed auto dealer, so perhaps he has access to plates from other vehicles. Or maybe he registered the vehicle in multiple states—sort of like Donald Trump’s claim of multiple-state voter registration fraud.

But no one appears to be concerned about that. When Floyd Falcon, attorney for the Louisiana State Troopers Association (LSTA), fired off a LETTER to Gov. Edwards on July 11, 2016, asking that Braxton be removed from the commission, he included a laundry list of 20 specific complaints and also included a four-page State Police Incident Report by Oliphant and submitted to Region 3 Command Inspector Kevin Reeves (since named as Edmonson’s successor as Superintendent of State Police with Oliphant promoted to Major and moved to Reeves’ former post as Region 3 Command Inspector) which detailed Braxton’s alleged threats against the State Trooper who arrested his daughter.

Falcon has been strangely quiet about Caruso-Riecke’s somewhat cavalier attitude about speeding, eluding law enforcement by illegally switching license plates (and yes, it is definitely illegal). But there seems to be no indignation over his thumbing his nose at the law.

But Riecke won’t be removed by Edwards.

Why? A little thing called campaign contributions. Riecke is a close friend of Sheriff Daniel Edwards and between the sheriff and his brother, Riecke has contributed $10,000 in campaign cash. He ain’t going anywhere.

Which brings me to my final point. T.J. Doss is a state trooper. He is a mostly ineffective chairman of the LSPC but as such, is in position to control investigations (or non-investigations in the case of those illegal campaign contributions by the LSTA) of trooper misconduct.

But not once did he attempt to investigate the actions of his former boss, Mike Edmonson. Not once was that infamous San Diego trip raised before the commission. But who in his right mind would want the dubious task of investigating one’s boss?

Which is precisely why there should be a prohibition against a State Trooper serving as chairman of the LSPC. It’s too much of a hot seat—or should be—for a State Trooper. Yes, the LSTA should be represented on the commission, which hears appeals of disciplinary action by troopers. But chairman? No indeed.

 

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There’s an ongoing hatchet job that is remarkable only in the clumsy, amateurish manner in which it is being carried out.

But the thing that is really notable, considering the stumbling, bumbling effort is that it apparently is being executed (if you can call it that) by either the Louisiana State Police Commission (LSPC) or the Louisiana State Troopers Association (LSTA)—or both.

Several weeks ago, LouisianaVoice received an anonymous letter critical of our coverage of the LSPC’s lack of credibility and integrity in the manner in which it punted on an investigation of illegal political contributions by LSTA.

First of all, there is nothing illegal per se in an association making political contributions except in this particular case, the decision was made to do so by officers of the association who are by virtue of their very membership in LSTA, state troopers. State troopers are, like their state civil service cousins, prohibited from political activity, including making campaign contributions.

To conceal their action, they simply had the LSTA Director David Young make the contributions through his personal checking account and he was then reimbursed for his “expenses.” Former LSPC member Lloyd Grafton of Ruston labeled that practice “money laundering.”

Then came the dust-up with LSPC Director Cathy Derbonne who, in performing her duties as she saw them, attempted to hold the commission members’ feet to the fire on commission regulations.

The commission, led by its president, Trooper T.J. Doss, mounted an effort to make Derbonne pay for her imagined insubordination. After all, no good deed goes unpunished. A majority of the commission quickly convened a kangaroo court to fire her but, told she didn’t have the votes to survive the coup, she resigned under duress.

She has since filed a lawsuit to be reinstated with back pay and damages but the LSPC simply turned up the heat first when two members of the commission paid a private detective to follow her in order to learn who she was talking to and meeting with. LouisianaVoice has been told that the private detective was paid for by the two commission members and not with state funds.

That anonymous letter to LouisianaVoice also accused Derbonne of having sexual relationships with a state trooper, a claim she has vehemently denied.

In some quarters, that would be called character assassination and it does tend to follow a pattern of behavior that has emerged over the past two years with certain commission members, the LSTA, and even the State Police command. Just in the past year, five commission members, the commission director, State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson has resigned, his second in command reassigned and 18 members of LSTA were subpoenaed by the FBI.

Now, New Orleans TV investigative reporter Lee Zurik has apparently been contacted to drive the stake through Derbonne’s heart, i.e. completely discredit her in order to destroy her pending litigation.

Zurik was scheduled to air a piece at 10 p.m. today (Monday) that is speculated to include descriptions of Derbonne’s attempts to fix a ticket for commission member Calvin Braxton of Natchitoches, one of the remaining members friendly to Derbonne. From all accounts, Braxton is the thrust of Zurik’s story with Derbonne being collateral damage—convenient for Doss, et al.

We have no idea what Zurik’s story will say, but he requested—and received—a lengthy list of email correspondence between Derbonne and Braxton, the contents or which are not clear but which Zurik is expected to elaborate on tonight.

The odd thing about that is Derbonne’s successor, Jason Hannaman, told the commission during its meeting last Thursday that the commission server had crashed and that all emails and all other documents were lost permanently.

If that’s the case, how were Derbonne’s email exchanges with Braxton recovered so easily and quickly for Zurik?

As if all that were not enough to keep one’s mind reeling, there is also this:

When Natchitoches attorney Taylor Townsend was hired at a price of $75,000 to investigate the LSTA campaign contributions, his contract specifically required that he file a report on his findings. Instead, he came back with a verbal recommendation that “no action be taken.”

That might have been the end of the story had it not been for retired State Trooper Leon “Bucky” Millet of Lake Arthur who kept pounding the drum at each monthly meeting, insisting that Townsend was required to file a written report. Millet, moreover, was victorious in his assertion that all information, materials, and items produced by Townsend’s investigation were property of the state and must be submitted to the commission.

That would include a tape recording of an LSTA meeting in which it was allegedly admitted that the association had violated the law in making the contributions. Townsend has that recording and it should be among the materials submitted to the commission—provided the recording didn’t also “crash,” with its contents destroyed.

So, in summation, we have a sham of an investigation of the LSTA, the orchestrated ouster of the LSPC director who was the only one knowledgeable about commission members’ activities, the hiring of a private detective to follow her, an anonymous letter intended to tarnish her reputation with one of the only news outlets that would tell her story, the forced resignation of the State Police Commander, and now the recruitment of a New Orleans TV reporter to abet the commission in taking down Braxton and further smearing Derbonne.

What could be more Louisiana?

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The regular meeting of the Livingston Parish All-American Redneck Male Chauvinist Spittin’, Belchin’, and Cussin’ Society and Literary Club (LPAARMCSBCSLC) was over and physically exhausted members exited the back room of John Wayne Culpepper’s Lip-Smackin’ Bar-B-Que House and Used Lightbulb Emporium after a mind-numbing near-record session of 11 minutes and headed home.

As they filtered out the front door, LPAARMCSBCSLC President Harley Purvis and I retired to his reserved booth in the back in the corner in the dark to discuss the day’s latest news.

Harley likes to keep track of the legislature and to make pointed observations about some of its actions and today was no exception.

“I see the governor signed HOUSE BILL 231 by Rep. Major Thibaut,” he said.

Thibaut, a New Roads Democrat, authored the bill which allows the immediate family member of a mayor or any other member of the governing authority of a municipality with a population of five thousand or less or a legal entity in which the family member has an interest to enter into a transaction with the municipality subject, of course, to “certain conditions.”

“One of those ‘conditions,’” Harley said, his disgust readily apparent, “is that permission be obtained from the State Board of Ethics.

“After what that idiot Bobby Jindal did to the Ethics Board and state ethics laws back in 2008, a governmental entity could probably bring back public floggings in the town square if they go about it the right way,” he said.

He looked away briefly before turning back to me. “I thought we had made progress when we started prohibiting elected officials’ family members from doing business with the agency they represent. Now we’re right back where we were 70 years ago.”

“And there’s HOUSE BILL 162 by Rep. Rob Shadoin.”

Shadoin is a Republican from my home town of Ruston. “What about it?” I asked.

“Oh, nothing. It just prohibits the filing of a false lien against state officers and state employees. Why ain’t that already against the law? But what I’d really like to know is what precipitated Shadoin’s filing of this bill in the first place that brought the need for such a law to his attention? I know almost every year there’s a bill filed against local speed traps and it’s only because some legislator got hisself a ticket. I betcha there’s a story behind Shadoin’s bill that we don’t know about.”

Just as suddenly, Harley turned his attention to national events.

“Mitch McConnell really is the face of the Repugnantcans. I mean, look at his health care bill.

“It’s one thing that he is so desperate to do away with Obamacare that he’s willing to throw anything up against the wall to see if it’ll stick. I’m not happy with Obamacare because it needs to be tweaked. But damn it, if it needs tweaking, tweak it, don’t just eradicate it. You don’t roll your car over a cliff because the air conditioning goes out; you repair the AC and move on. But the mentality of the Repugnantcans is ‘We gotta do away with Obamacare, even if we do rip health care away from 23 million people. We have to abolish Obamacare even if we do reduce Medicaid benefits. We must erase all vestiges of Obamacare even if premiums do go up, and it’s essential to repeal Obamacare especially even if it means nice tax breaks to the rich.’

“It’s pretty obvious that the mindset of McConnell and his Repugnantcan co-conspirators is not to do what’s best for the country, but to do whatever they can to undermine America’s middle class and low-income citizens to the benefit of the great 1 percent. And it’s pretty disgusting to think that’s who is representing the citizens of this country.”

Harley had a lot on his mind today, so he continued:

“And it’s a shame about the shooting of Rep. Scalise. I don’t agree to his politics but I sure don’t agree with some nutcase being able to obtain guns—especially high-powered semi-automatic weapons—and trying to make some kind of insane political statement.

“But what really burns my butt is attempts by Repugnantcans to tag Bernie Sanders with this just because the crazy guy was a Bernie supporter. Hell, I was a Bernie supporter but I would never even think of owning an automatic weapon, much less using against anyone.

“What’s worse, though, is you got some Repugnantcans like Rep. Chris Collins, and the ultra-conservative MEDIA trying to blame Democrats’ political RHETORIC for the shooting. That’s just about the stupidest thing I ever heard. There’re others, like Rep. RODNEY DAVIS and even DONALD TRUMP JR who somehow saw the attack as the fault of Democrats.

“And wasn’t The Donald himself, when he was running for president, who encouraged his supporters to physically ATTACK protesters? I seem to remember he even offered to pay their legal bills if they did so. They all apparently forgot that Rep. Gabrielle “Gabby” Giffords was also shot by a deranged maniac in 2011 and she’s a Democrat. But weren’t the Repugnantcans strangely quiet about that shooting?

“If you want to blame rhetoric, then maybe the Repugnantcans should be asking if their support of open carry laws and their support of semi-automatic weapons—bought and paid for by the NRA—might be a contributing factor to insane acts like this one. Perhaps the Repugnantcans should be questioning whether their fanatical support of weapons designed to kill people—and that’s the only purpose for those weapons—might be the problem.”

He drained his mug of stale coffee before going on. “Every time there’s a mass shooting with these killing machines, it’s awfully coincidental how the NRA rushes to the microphones to defend their sale and the Repugnantcans in Congress kill any efforts at banning them.

“And after each shooting, those same Repugnantcans run and hide behind the NRA which in turn, keeps their campaign contribution pipeline flowing wide open.”

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I have to be honest with you and let you know—finally—that the inspiration for many of my stories comes not from my own diligent research but from my best friend who only now, after more than six years of my writing LouisianaVoice, has begrudgingly consented to my publicly acknowledging his sage observational talents.

That acknowledgement is long overdue and I am happy to tell you about my good friend and mentor, Harley Purvis, the resident political guru of John Wayne Culpepper’s Lip-Smackin’ Bar-B-Que House and Used Lightbulb Emporium in Watson, Louisiana. (John Wayne proudly boasts that he has the largest selection of used light bulbs in the state.)

If Watson was incorporated, which it is not, Harley would most surely be the mayor—if, that is, he could be talked into offering himself as a candidate, which he most probably would not. In his own words, he much prefers shaking a few bushes and jerking a half-hitch in the egos of various political officer-holders. “I’d rather be outside the tent peeing in than inside peeing out,” he says in his usual matter-of-fact tone.

The highest office he ever aspired to was his current position as President of the Greater Livingston Parish All-American Redneck Male Chauvinist Spittin’, Belchin’, and Cussin’ Society and Literary Club (LPAARMCSBCSLC). He was elected president by acclamation since he was the only member to ever read a book—several, to be accurate.

Nobody runs for office in Livingston Parish without dropping by John Wayne’s to pay homage to Harley as he occupies the booth in the back in the corner in the dark, (a phrase he readily admits he stole from the late Flip Wilson). “I liked it when he said that and I especially like it since that’s where I sit at John Wayne’s,” he says as he takes another sip from his special dark roast coffee blend (Community Coffee, of course) found only at the Bar-B-Que House and Used Lightbulb Emporium.

Coffee is a tad gamier at John Wayne’s than at those hoity-toity places like Starbucks. That’s partly because John Wayne doesn’t throw out the previous day’s coffee grounds from Monday to Saturday night. He simply adds a half measure to the previous day’s grounds and runs the water (and any leftover coffee) through again for peak financial efficiency. You almost have to scrape the stuff out of your cup but Nobody’s complained yet. That’s probably because it will take your breath away.

John Wayne’s is a natural habitat for political groupies of all stripes and nobody disrespects anybody else’s political views at John Wayne’s. Hillary supporters and Trump backers rub shoulders without incident though, admittedly, Trump supporters far outnumber those who voted for Hillary here in Livingston Parish in general and at John Wayne’s in particular. Civility is a tradition that enhances the popularity of the place.

Crowds are a lot bigger on Saturday mornings because during the week, the gravel truck drivers are busy running up and down LA. 16 picking up loads of gravel at the pit north of Watson and hauling them to their destinations. They don’t have time to dawdle over raunchy coffee and day-old Krispy Kreme Do-nuts.

Except for Harley Purvis, that is. Harley’s there every single day, rain or shine, hot or cold, from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. He’s retired with nothing but time on his hands. In his early seventies, he has hearing aids for both ears but doesn’t wear them because he’s married—coincidentally, the same reason he occupies his regular booth at John Wayne’s on a daily basis except for Sunday. That’s church and that’s the one thing his wife Wanda Bob insists on.

He watches both CNN and Fox News. He reads the Baton Rouge and New Orleans papers as well as the New York Times and Washington Post online. There’s a sadness in his eyes these days. He’s happy to download news from the Internet but Harley’s old school and he’s disgusted with the state of the newspaper industry. But mostly, he’s frustrated that newspapers couldn’t see the Internet threat to print journalism when it first appeared on the horizon several years ago. Or if they did, they didn’t adjust, which is why the Times-Picayune only prints three days a week in New Orleans now.

Today, he sat at his booth with a Baton Rouge Advocate lying on the table in front of him. As I slid into the booth opposite him, he shook his head as he looked at the headline in the paper. “Everybody talks about a do-nothing Congress, but this Louisiana Legislature sure gave ‘em a run for their money this year,” he said. “This is just about the sorriest bunch we ever had in Baton Rouge.”

“Why do you think that is?” I asked as I took out my notebook and pen.

“I call it the Jindal Syndrome hangover,” he said. “Before we got that little twerp in the governor’s office, the legislature occasionally screwed up and did something progressive. The Stelly Tax Plan was a good example of that. So, what was the first thing Jindal did? He gutted the state’s ethics laws and let a couple of his friends off the hook when they already had ‘em on ethics violations.

“That’s the way it’s been since 2008. We thought we’d made a little progress when John Bel got elected but nothing’s changed. The Republicans aren’t going to pass any of his programs. That might be okay if they had an alternative plan. But what’s their plan? They don’t have one and we just keep kicking that can down the road. They’re Grover Norquist’s lap dogs.”

Harley got up and walked to the coffee urn and refreshed his day-old coffee. Returning, he took a sip and said, “They filed almost a thousand bills at the beginning of this year’s session. Know how many the governor’s signed into law? About a dozen,” he said, answering his own question before I could say a word.

“They spent way too much time caught up over those Confederate statues in New Orleans. That’s a can of worms in itself. You removed the statues but it could be just a start. What’s next, changing the names of Jefferson Davis Parish? Leesville? Jackson Parish? Beauregard Parish? Jefferson Parish? I dunno, Maybe the Daughters of the Confederacy have a valid complaint over the names of Lincoln, Union and Grant parishes.”

While Harley will readily offer his critique of Louisiana politicians, he, as one of the few admitted 70-year-old liberal Bernie Sanders supporters in Livingston Parish, is no less willing to offer his view of Washington.

“Whether you like Trump or hate him,” he said, leaning over the table towards me as if preparing to share some deep dark secret, “the thing that I just can’t wrap my brain around is why the Republicans in Congress can’t grow a set and think for themselves instead of obediently serving as Trump apologists every time he says or does some incredibly stupid—and that’s every day. There’re just some things you can’t defend, but they do anyway.

“They’re putting so-called party unity far ahead of the country’s interests. There are people in this country who because of circumstances over which they have no control, cannot afford health care. Yet the Republicans blindly follow Trump’s lead in taking health care away from these people. If Obamacare is broken, fix it. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. You have people who are on Social Security disability who are legitimately disabled. You don’t pull the rug out from under these people.

“And you want to know who’s front and center in his blind loyalty to Trump? Our very own Sen. John Neely Kennedy. The guy is an embarrassment to the entire state. And you notice that when members of Congress were holding town hall meetings during the recess, you couldn’t find Kennedy with a sheriff’s posse.

“Those guys up there in Washington are bought and sold by the lobbyists. Look what Billy Tauzin did before he left Congress. He steered a bill through Congress that prohibited Medicaid and Medicare from negotiating the price of pharmaceuticals. That was a huge win for the pharmaceutical industry. Then he quit and became head of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers (PhRMA).

“With all that special-interest influence in Washington, the only way to get a congressman’s attention is to drag a dollar bill on a string down the hall of the House or Senate. And it ain’t much different over at the State Capitol. The oil, banking, and business interests own the Legislature and the Koch brothers and Wall Street own Washington.”

I wanted to hear more but the regular monthly meeting of the LPAARMCSBCSLC was getting ready to convene in emergency session to consider the expulsion of a member who had gotten too big for his britches. As Secretary, I had to keep the minutes.

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It’s been nearly a year since we’ve written anything about the Louisiana State Board of Dentistry and while there appears to be little going on with the board, there is quite a bit of activity going on beneath that veneer of tranquility, including, apparently, an ongoing FBI audit of the board.

Despite the efforts of State Sen. Daniel Martiny (R-Metairie) who, in 2014 passed legislation to move the board’s headquarters from New Orleans to Baton Rouge, the board has continued to resist the move from its posh high-rent offices on Canal Street.

Our last story about the LSBD was last July. https://louisianavoice.com/2016/07/18/case-of-slidell-dentist-illustrates-unbridled-power-of-dentistry-board-to-destroy-careers-for-sake-of-money/

Apparently the FBI has taken an interest in the LSBD.

The AGENDA for a special March 10 meeting (a Friday, no less) of the board caught the eye of one of our regular readers, a dentist who was put through the board’s mill and ground into so much fodder a few years ago.

Buried on page three of the agenda, under the heading “New Business and any other business which may properly come before the board,” was item IX which said, “Discussion of FBI audit results (p. 50).”

We had no prior knowledge of any FBI audit, although we have been aware that the board’s former attorney is awaiting a disciplinary hearing before the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board. https://louisianavoice.com/2015/11/16/dentistry-board-facing-difficult-future-because-of-policies-contracts-with-attorney-private-investigator-are-cancelled/

At the very bottom of page 3 was a call for an executive session “for the purpose of discussing investigations, adjudications, litigation and professional competency of individuals and staff; because discussion of these topics would have a detrimental effect on the bargaining and litigation position of the Louisiana State of Dentistry.”

It was unclear if the proposed closed-door session was related to the FBI audit or not.

LouisianaVoice will be making a public records request for that FBI audit report and we will publish our findings.

Meanwhile in his farewell address in the winter 2014 LSBD BULLETIN, outgoing President Dr. Wilton Guillory said, “Legislation was recently passed to move the Board’s domicile to Baton Rouge. If that legislation is not changed in the upcoming legislature as I hope, then the Board, who self generates its funds, will have to raise the license fees to fund the move. We have been able to prevent this in years past but will have no choice. We are working with the LDA (Louisiana Dentists Association) and legislators to try to prevent this unnecessary move.”

That self-generation of funds has been a bone of contention between the board and the dentists its disciplines. Because the board sets itself up as accuser, prosecutor and judge, dentists who appear on the board’s radar have little chance of prevailing in disputes.

That is, if they choose to dispute the board—and that’s a big “if” that carries high risks, as in high dollar risks. Often a token fine, if disputed, quickly becomes a five- or even a six-figure fine and more than one dentist has been run out of business by the sheer cost of defending himself from the board’s kangaroo court.

That’s why Martiny, when his own dentist fell into disfavor for a minor offense, took it upon himself to rein in the board by moving it from its Taj Mahal to more modest headquarters in Baton Rouge.

Thanks to State Reps. Robert Johnson (D-Marksville) and Frank Hoffman (R-West Monroe), Martiny’s efforts may be overturned before the move can even be implemented.

House Bill 521 by Johnson and Hoffman has been reported out of committee and is scheduled to be taken up for debate before the full House tomorrow (Wednesday, May 17). Simply put, the bill would amend Act 866 by Martiny, effectively negating that action, and allow the board to remain in either New Orleans or Jefferson Parish.

Hoffman has received $3000 from the Louisiana Dental Political Action Committee since 2011, $500 from Appel Dental, LLC in 2007, and an additional $500 from two individual dentists in 2007 and 2011.

Johnson, meanwhile, has received $6,250 from the Louisiana Dental PAC since 2011, and $500 from the Kid’s Dental Zone of Alexandria, LLC in 2015. He also received $500 each from the same two individual dentists as Hoffman.

We have documented several cases of the board’s heavy-handedness in dealing with dentists, its unscrupulous investigative methods, its dictatorial dealings with dentists and its exorbitant system of fines imposed in order to pay the rent on its office space and to pay its contract private investigator and attorney. We have also written about the legal troubles of that investigator.

Perhaps legislators might like to refresh their memories about the board before they vote on Wednesday. Here are links to just a few of our stories:

https://louisianavoice.com/2016/03/18/like-dental-board-louisiana-board-of-medical-examiners-survives-on-fines-and-incentive-to-punish/

https://louisianavoice.com/2015/04/16/13976/

https://louisianavoice.com/2016/07/07/dentistry-board-member-was-witness-in-earlier-case-now-he-also-decides-insurance-claims-benefits-paid-to-other-dentists/

https://louisianavoice.com/2015/04/15/remarks-by-former-head-of-state-dentistry-board-on-suit-dismissal-reopens-louisianavoice-investigation-of-tactics/

https://louisianavoice.com/2014/03/23/appeal-court-slams-lsdb-tactics-in-reversing-kangaroo-court-license-revocation-board-attorney-rules-on-his-own-objection/

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