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Archive for the ‘Campaign Contributions’ Category

Mike Edmonson got his way but Louisiana State Police Commission (LSPC) Executive Director Cathy Derbonne did not give him the satisfaction of having his puppet commission fire her.

She quit. But she said she did so under duress.

The commission plowed through the first three items on the agenda before Chairman T.J. Doss, the state police representative on the board, abruptly announced there would be a 30-minute recess in proceedings.

There was probably a good reason for the recess. During almost the entirety of testimony of retired State Trooper Leon “Bucky” Millet, who is one of the commission’s harshest critics, Doss was busy texting someone (we suspect it may have been Edmonson)

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He continued texting during part of the recess but different commissioners kept caucusing in corners, offices and around the coffee pot but were careful to keep their meetings down to three members or fewer. If four had met anywhere in the room, there would have been a quorum and LouisianaVoice would have politely asked to sit in. Instead, whenever a fourth entered the discussion, someone else would leave.

Just to be on the safe side, LouisianaVoice submitted a formal, written public records request for the content of all of Doss’s texts sent and received during Thursday’s meeting. On the outside chance he was texting commission attorney Lenore Feeney, we are prepared to demand proof of that by having LSPC provide us with the “To” and “From” portions of the texts with the actual messages redacted. All other messages are to be provided intact.

Millet did get Doss’s undivided attention at one point when he alluded to a report that Doss had addressed a meeting of the Louisiana State Troopers Association at which he was quoted as saying his goal was to be elected chairman of the commission and to “get rid of the executive director.” Doss, of course, denied saying that.

Upon re-convening, contract attorney Taylor Townsend read Derbonne’s resignation letter and the commission then voted on whether or not to accept the resignation (I always thought when one quit, it was his or her decision). Member Calvin Braxton and Jared J Caruso-Riecke voted no on accepting her resignation letter.

Voting to accept were members Doss, Monica Manzella, Eulis Simien, Jr., and Donald Breaux.

Caruso-Riecke, it should be noted, contributed $3,500 to John Bel Edwards and $2,000 to his brother, Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff Daniel Edwards. Daniel Edwards is a member of the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association which endorsed John Bel Edwards for governor and once elected, John Bel Edwards re-appointed Edmonson as State Police Superintendent as a condition of the sheriffs’ association’s endorsement, proving that life—political life, at least—is indeed a circle.

LouisianaVoice attempted to ask Caruso-Riecke why he voted not to accept Derbonne’s resignation and he refused to comment, choosing instead to take the opportunity to chastise LouisianaVoice for yesterday’s post that said Edmonson OWNED HIM.

Well, quite frankly, we didn’t see anything during Thursday’s meeting that would change our mind.

Why is that?

Simply because LouisianaVoice happened to learn it was Doss and Caruso-Riecke who placed the two items on the LSPC agenda that were to have dealt with Derbonne’s “professional competence” and whether she would be continued or terminated.

So, basically, Caruso-Riecke, aware that the four votes needed to end Derbonne’s eight years as executive director were locked in, he could vote “no” and come off as the nice guy by taking the high road, confident that it was a done deal.

Now if he just hadn’t been one of those who prepared the agenda and handed it to Derbonne for her signature….

The obvious question is what trigger was the commission going to pull to terminate Derbonne? Conspicuously displayed behind commissioners was a screen with a paused video of proceedings of the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget at which Derbonne testified last year. The video was never shown because Derbonne resigned but what it would have shown was legislators asking her who approved the LSPA’s budget and she inadvertently replied, “The Commission.” The commission budget is actually approved by the commission before being sent to the legislature for final approval and it was that gaffe members were going to use to hang her.

Well, that brings up an obvious question: Back around October, State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson appeared before the commission to ask that a new position of lieutenant colonel be created to oversee finances for State Police. He assured commission members that (a) the position was not to be created for any specific individual and that there would be no additional expenses for the position. Before anyone could say cut and dried, Jason Starnes was promoted into the position and promptly given a $25,000 raise.

Edmonson lied and he did so deliberately. Will he be fired as well?

Edmonson, back in 2014, engineered the insertion of an AMENDMENT to an otherwise benign bill in the closing minutes of the legislature that would have given him an additional $55,000 per year in retirement income—illegally, because Edmonson had locked his retirement in years before when he entered the state’s DROP Program, which froze retirement income at his rank at that time. A lawsuit by State Sen. Dan Claitor killed the raise. Was he fired for that? Check that box No.

JOHN BEL EDWARDS, a state representative at the time, said he would seek a “full investigation” of the furtive attempt to approve the raise. Instead, he reappointed Edmonson to head Louisiana State Police (LSP).

When a Troop D State Trooper was found to be doctor-shopping in order to stockpile prescription narcotics, which he was taking while on duty, Edmonson’s solution was to first promote him to Troop D Commander and later, when the incident became public, to make a LATERAL TRANSFER.

When a State Trooper was found to have had sex with a woman in his patrol unit, he was SUSPENDED for 36 hours and reduced in pay for 18 pay periods but was allowed to work overtime to make up the reduction in pay.

When a married State Trooper escorted an underage woman into a Vicksburg, Mississippi CASINO floor to play slot machines and blackjack, he was busted and attempted unsuccessfully to use his position as a trooper to negotiate his way out of a fine. Edmonson promoted him to Troop F Commander.

When Department of Public Safety (DPS) Deputy Undersecretary JILL BOUDREAUX was allowed to take an early retirement buyout incentive and cash in her leave time and then return to work the next day—with a promotion to Undersecretary, Edmonson allowed her to keep $59,000 in buyout and annual leave payments—and her job—despite instructions from the Division of Administration for her to repay the money.

Edmonson sat on a HARASSMENT complaint on a Troop D State Trooper for more than a year.

Louisiana State Troopers’ Association Executive Director David Young kept his job after it was revealed that he laundered state troopers’ funds through his personal bank account in order to make substantial—and illegal—campaign donations, including $10,000 each to Bobby Jindal and Edwards. A political crony of Gov. Edwards was hired to torpedo the investigation—and did just that.

And when a handful of retirees, members of LSTA, complained about the contributions, they were politely booted out of the association. You don’t cross Edmonson’s boys and not pay a price.

Through all these disruptive incidents, Edmonson sailed right along, never receiving any disciplinary action. He will say he has no control over the LSTA, but that organization’s members don’t go to the bathroom without a hall pass from Edmonson.

He skates when he lies about how the promotion of Jason Starnes would cost no additional money but Derbonne is offered up for sacrifice when she inadvertently says the commission approves her budget.

Capping off the bizarre events on Thursday, reporters attempted in vain to get any member or either of the two commission attorneys—Taylor Townsend and Lenore Feeney—to say something, anything, about the meeting and Derbonne’s resignation. Each one, Doss, Braxton, Caruso-Riecke, Breaux, Manzella, Simien, Townsend and Feeney, seemed to have somewhere to go in one helluva hurry. Everyone was scurrying around like a bunch of rats in a burning meth lab.

Townsend, all but sprinting from the room, was pursued by a reporter who asked, “What did you guys talk about during the break?”

Townsend’s RESPONSE, made over his right shoulder as he exited the room was, “You don’t want to get into that.”

Well….yeah, we do.

The most humorous—and frustrating—exchange took place when reporters followed Doss as he entered a private room with Maj. Durell Williams, who is over Louisiana State Police Internal Affairs.

Doss, just before entering the room, turned and faced reporters who asked for a more detailed explanation of events. He referred reporters to Feeney, “the attorney in the red jacket,” saying that she could address their questions.

But when FEENEY was confronted, she rushed past reporters, saying, “I’m not been authorized to make a comment.” It was a classic game of bureaucratic ping pong with reporters serving as the little plastic ball.

So there you have it, folks. The wagons have been circled; Starnes, with no accounting experience, has been put in charge of LSP finances; Edmonson has consolidated his base by eliminating another potential critic and gaining complete control of the LSPC; the Sheriffs’ Association is happy as a pig in the sunshine, and Derbonne has been sacrificed at the Altar of Deniability.

And to think, Edmonson gets away with all the above—and more—mismanagement but when I, as a five-year-old, threw a candy wrapper out of my grandfather’s truck window, I felt a pop on the back of my head and I could see Jesus at the end of a long tunnel, waving me to the light.

But not to worry. Edmonson is off to Rome with his latest benefactor, Gov. John Bel Edwards, to meet with the Pope on the issue of child sex trafficking so all is right with the world.

(But we can’t help but wonder if he will get into trouble like he did when another Pope came to Louisiana.)

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All those rabid LSU fans who find themselves in the unusual position of backing a team virtually buried in the 19th position among AP’s football elite can take heart; at least the Tigers aren’t 44th.

And those equally insane ‘Bama fans looking to secure another crystal football for their school’s trophy case can be glad the Tide isn’t ranked 46th.

As both teams head into their respective post-season games, 24/7 Wall St., a research firm that publishes some 30 ARTICLES per day on economy, finances, and government, has come out with its rankings of the best- and worst-run states in the country.

And it ain’t pretty.

Alabama is no. 46 out of 50 states but that’s okay. Never mind that it is one of the poorest states in the nation with 18.5 (5th highest) of its citizens living in poverty). The Tide is in the playoffs for the national championship.

Don’t worry about the state’s unemployment rate of 6.1 percent, which is tied for 8th highest in the country. Alabama, which proclaims itself to be the Heart of Dixie, pays the coaches of its two major college football teams, ‘Bama and Auburn, combined SALARIES of $11.67 million—$4.73 for Auburn’s Gus Malzahn and $6.94 million for ol’ Nicky Boy.

(Les Miles, before being unceremoniously cut loose by LSU’s Athletic Director Joe Alleva, himself the possessor of somewhat dubious talent, was pulling down a cool $4.3 million per annum. But all of these salaries pale in comparison to Jim Harbaugh’s $9.004 million salary at Michigan.)

LSU, meanwhile, is headed to this Friday’s Citrus Bowl in Orlando to take on the juggernaut Cardinals of Louisville—without the services of Leonard Fournette who has played his last game for the Tigers. (On that note, now that Fournette has declared himself draft eligible, retained an agent and opted not to participate in Friday’s game, has he, or any other player deciding to go pro, also opted out of attending classes for the remainder of the semester as well? If not, are any of them continuing to reside in free housing, enjoying free meals or using school training equipment for workouts? Just a thought.)

Meanwhile, back home, Louisiana ranks as the 44th best-run (or the seventh worst-run) state, just two notches ahead of Alabama. The two are sandwiched around Kentucky in the rankings while the state geographically wedged between them, Mississippi, is ranked 47th best, or fourth-worst with the fifth-highest unemployment rate at 6.5 percent and the highest poverty rate at 22.0 percent.

Louisiana’s unemployment rate of 6.3 percent (sixth-highest, right behind Mississippi) and its third-highest poverty rate of 19.6 percent (New Mexico’s 20.4 percent is second-highest) are nothing to brag about. Nor is its $4,067 debt per capital (16th highest).

The question, at least in Louisiana’s case, is: Why?

  • Louisiana has some of the highest crude oil and natural gas reserves in the nations;
  • Louisiana is one of the top crude oil producers in the country;
  • More crude oil is shipped to the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP) than to any other U.S. port;
  • Louisiana has several of the nation’s largest ports with exports totaling $10,530 per capita in 2015, second highest of all states, behind only Washington;

So with this abundance of natural resources, why is it that Louisiana continues to struggle with high poverty, low educational attainment and high violent crime.

Well, for starters, you can tie the first two of those to the third: high poverty and low education rates equal high crime. Every time.

All that notwithstanding, however, the overriding question is how can a state with such an abundance of the world’s most valuable commodity fail to profit?

Market news has been replete with stories lately about how the poor oil companies are taking hits with some reporting net profits down by as much as 37 percent. Still, even with lower earnings, some, like SHELL, reported net profits of a paltry $2.24 billion for the second quarter of 2016. That’s three months’ profits, folk. Three months.

Yet, Louisiana continues to give away the store to big oil through more than generous tax breaks while allowing them to walk away from the ravages they have inflicted on our coastal marshes.

With so much revenue derived by the oil and chemical industries through these tax breaks, there is no reason why this state’s citizenry continues to wallow in the depths of financial despair and desperation.

With a more reasonable tax structure in which big oil, big chemical plants, and their related industries (ports, trucking, and rail) could be asked to bear more responsibility for wrecking our coastline, polluting our air and water, and tearing up our highways, Louisiana could forge ahead of most of those states ranked ahead of them.

Yet we continue to place the greatest burden on the backs of those who can least afford it: the middle and low income groups through the most inequitable form of taxes. Louisiana has the third-highest average (9.01 percent) in state and local SALES TAXES in the nation.

Ever wonder why that is? For starters, the average taxpayer doesn’t have the time or resources or a PAC to generate organized opposition to this rigged tax structure or to purchase legislators’ votes. Big oil, Big Pharma, and Big Banks do.

Do you think it was sheer coincidence that former State Sen. Robert Adley was appointed by Gov. John Bel Edwards as Executive Director, Louisiana Offshore Terminal Authority? http://gov.louisiana.gov/news/governorelect-edwards-announces-cabinet-executive-staff-bese-board-appointments

Think again. Here is LouisianaVoice’s overview on why Big Oil has the influence it exercises in this state: https://louisianavoice.com/2016/08/28/ag-jeff-landry-joins-jindal-legislators-in-protecting-big-oil-from-cleanup-responsibility-follow-the-money-for-motives/

(Be sure to click on Copy of Campaign Contributions)

But at least the NCAA playoffs and the Citrus Bowl—and national signing day—will keep the natives content for a while longer.

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It’s no wonder the Louisiana State Troopers’ Association (LSTA) decided to give the boot to Leon “Bucky” Millet and three other retired members of LSTA. It seems that the retirees, particularly Millet, have been asking questions that are making the LSTA and the Louisiana State Police Commission (LSPC) members extremely uncomfortable.

And their questions are a helluva lot more intelligent than the answers the commission has offered.

Oddly enough, all the questions Millet has peppered the commission with over the past several months seem to leave LSPC legal counsel Taylor Townsend especially oblivious—even as the meter keeps ticking on his legal fees for attending meetings while contributing nothing of substance.

But one commission member, Lloyd Grafton of Ruston, has zeroed in on the problem even if his colleagues have not and in doing so, broached a subject the others would apparently rather not discuss—apparent misleading testimony at last August’s meeting from State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson.

LouisianaVoice, meanwhile, has come in possession of a recording of a meeting of an affiliate troop meeting at which LSTA Executive Director David Young received a much tougher grilling than he did from commission members. Throughout the 16-minute recording, Young is questioned as to how the checks were written and who authorized the budgeting of money for contributions before anyone even knew who the candidates would be in any given race. At one point, Young was advised to have an audit conducted of LSTA expenditures. The questioning of Young, it appeared from the tone of the voices on the recording, was anything but friendly.

Millet, of Lake Arthur, has regularly appeared at monthly meetings of the commission to challenge the association’s political contributions and the commission for its failure, on advice of Townsend, to act on the contributions.

Millet has repeatedly said the contributions, decided on by the LSTA board, each of whom are state troopers, are a violation of commission rules prohibiting political activity by troopers.

The commission—and Townsend—just as consistently, has responded by saying LSTA is a private entity and David Young is not a state trooper, meaning the commission has no jurisdiction over the association.

Never mind that the contributions were made by Young with checks drawn from Young’s personal account and he in turn would be reimbursed by the association for “expenses.”

And never mind that the decisions of who to support and to whom checks would be contributed were made by LSTA board members, each of whom is a state trooper.

Millet again raised that issue at the commission’s November meeting. “This commission allowed mike Edmonson and command staff to get out of control,” he said. “The citizens of Louisiana deserve better. The agency I was so proud of has deteriorated to such a point that the LSTA has voted to excommunicate four members (retirees), including yours truly. There is no criteria for termination of membership. Most members who voted weren’t born when I retired from LSP.”

Commission Chairman T.J. Doss interrupted Millet to say, “There’s nothing pending before the commission that we can address. If you think something, please let us know.”

That’s when Grafton waded into the fray.

“We have no authority over LSTA but we do have authority over individual troopers who are being paid by the State of Louisiana. Troopers are prohibited from political activity. I know what our counsel said about LSTA. State troopers are not supposed to be giving political contributions to politicians.

“What I see in this whole process is a corrupting policy that is going on and is guaranteed that this association of state troopers is going to become more corrupt as time goes on as they invest money and continue to wallow in politics. That’s why we have a civil service for state troopers.”

Doss again attempted to interrupt. “Correct me if I’m wrong; we not discussing political contributions….”

“Let me finish,” Grafton shot back. “Any time you give money to politicians, you allow yourself to become corrupt. You cannot have protection of civil service and give money to politicians because you have given up that protection at that point in time. That’s why civil service was created. In Louisiana, we want to have it both ways: ‘Oh, I’m protected by civil service. I get equal protection under law.’ But you can’t because you’ve already made a choice. That is corruption and that’s where we are today.

“People who come to us, and I’m talking about the top administration of state police and they say, ‘Approve this lieutenant colonel position. It won’t cost you a dime more.’ Then I turn around and (the new lieutenant colonel slot) has gone from $125,000 to $150,000. Somebody is not being honest. This commission is a stepchild. That’s not our role. Our role is oversight, not undersight. We are to look and decide if something is fair or not. When it’s not, we say it’s not.

Commission member Jared J. Caruso-Riecke said, “My colleague’s rant notwithstanding, we have two lawyers here and another (Monica J. Manzella) who sits on this commission, but she’s new so I won’t put any pressure on her (apparently forgetting that commission member Eulis Simien, Jr. also is an attorney), so tell me, do we have jurisdiction over LSTA?

When told the commission did not, he then tried to compare LSTA to the Knights of Columbus. “If we’re being asked to go after the Knights of Columbus, I’m not gonna do it. I’m not gonna open up this commission to a civil lawsuit.”

Millet reminded Caruso-Riecke that while both the Knights of Columbus and LSTA are tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organizations, the Knights of Columbus membership is made up of a cross section of the population while the LSTA membership is comprised exclusively of state troopers and retired troopers. Nor did Caruso-Riecke acknowledge that the LSTA board of directors is made up of only state troopers who made the decision to make the political contributions.

The bureaucratic shuffle was a perfect example of officials talking circle logic in an effort to avoid confronting the real issue. Except they weren’t very good at it, thanks to the anemic efforts of Chairman Doss.

“If what has happened doesn’t alarm you as commissioners, I don’t know what will,” Millet said.

Grafton then asked, “Do we have any authority over salaries? Did I hear Col. Edmonson say (in August) if we approve this new position (the promotion of Maj. Jason Starnes to lieutenant colonel and bestowing the title of deputy superintendent and chief accounting officer upon him), it won’t cost any more money? I understood him to say it won’t cost any more money. That means no raise. Yet my understanding is, he got a $25,000 raise. We did not approve any raise. It looks to me as if the administration doing as it pleases and we’ll get the word in some point in time. What part am I saying that is absolutely wrong? Did he say he wouldn’t get a raise? I don’t see a board member here who heard that.”

Simeon said, “That’s not an accurate reflection of what was said.”

“I know what I heard,” Grafton said.

At that point, members around the table suggested pulling up the recording of that August meeting and if what Grafton said was accurate, to get Edmonson back before the commission to explain the pay increase.

Commission Executive Director Cathy Derbonne told commissioners that Edmonson did indeed testify that the newly-created position would not cost State Police any additional funds.

In an effort to recover the high ground, Doss said, “We govern classified positions and we create unclassified positions but don’t govern them.

Derbonne said, “We create and we can take away. How can we create an unclassified position and not have control?”

“We have no authority over unclassified positions.”

Derbonne said, “We have jurisdiction only over classified positions that fall within pay grid. We cannot pay someone outside pay grid unless they come before the commission for approval.”

When LouisianaVoice reviewed a recording of that August, the revelations were damning to Doss and other supporters of Edmonson and showed that at least one commissioner, Grafton, was paying attention and not simply going through the motions.

In his appearance before the commission to request creation of the new position, Edmonson quite plainly said that he proposed moving Starnes into the position formerly held by JILL BOUDREAUX, but in a newly-created unclassified position. “We’re not creating any additional funding issues, no additional money,” Edmonson said. “He will be the CAO. No new funds will be needed. It is not my intention to even ask for that.”

It doesn’t get much plainer than that, campers.

At least Grafton was listening when it mattered.

Now let’s see how long he’s allowed to remain on the commission.

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In the parlance of the criminal justice system, money laundering is sometimes called “washing” or “scrubbing.”

But dirty money is always dirty money, no matter what efforts are taken to make it appear legitimate.

The same is true of politics. Having just gone through a gut-wrench senatorial campaign, we’ve seen up close and personal how political ads come in all manner of misleading half-truths and outright lies. Case in point: the absurd promises of State Sen. Bodi White (R-Central), who ran ads during his recent unsuccessful campaign for Mayor-President of Baton Rouge about how he was going to improve schools, cut the dropout rate, and attract better teachers.

The problem? Neither City Hall nor the mayor have squat to do with public education; that’s the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board’s turf. What’s more, White was fully aware of this, so his ads amounted to nothing more than pure B.S., or, to be more blunt: bald face lies.

And now, thanks to Stephen Winham, our human Early Warning System who often tips us off to interesting stories, we have the laundering of Bobby Jindal’s image by some groupie/writer for the National Review named Dan McLaughlin.

The scrubbing, however, comes a tad early; even in Louisiana, the citizens aren’t likely to forget the carnage wreaked by Jindal so quickly.

McLaughlin, it seems, is an attorney who practices securities and commercial litigation in New York City. He also is a contributing columnist at National Review Online (Go figure). He is a former contributing editor of RedState (No surprise there), a columnist at the Federalist and the New Ledger. During his spare time he is a baseball blogger at BaseballCrank.com.

McLaughlin has written at least a dozen or so insipid pro-Jindal pabulum-laden claptrap-filled columns, all of which could just as easily have been written by Timmy Teepell.

In his most recent contribution to National Review (the entire story is not contained at this link because I’m too cheap to subscribe), McLaughlin WRITES that “Jindal took on the enormous challenge of cutting government in a state that is culturally deep-red but economically populist, and he paid a great political cost for his efforts.”

Apparent, he wrote that garbage with a straight face.

There’s more from McLaughlin who wrote in an earlier column for RedState that Jindal was the BEST CANDIDATE for the Republican presidential nomination and that (get this) Jindal ruled in one of the presidential debates (never mind Jindal never got past the undercard debates in which all participants were weak also-runs).

McLaughlin wrote that Jindal’s low approval ratings “and the desperate wails of his Democratic successor over the condition of the state’s budget seem to support” the view that Jindal left the state in financial disarray.

Seriously? McLaughlin conveniently overlooks the fact that the “view” that Jindal’s leaving the state in disastrous shape took shape long before John Bel Edwards and long before Jindal abandoned his post for his delusional pursuit of the presidency.

McLaughlin made no mention of Jindal’s administration coming up with a contract to give away two of the state’s learning hospitals that contained 50 blank pages.

He ignores the matter of how Jindal doled out plum board and commission positions to big contributors to his campaign, how he rolled over anyone who disagreed with him by either firing or demoting them, how he took tainted campaign contributions from felons and refused to return the money, or how he gutted the reserve fund of the Office of Group Benefits in order to try to close gaping budget deficits that occurred every single year of his governorship.

“The path to smaller government requires persistence, backbone, and a willingness to accept compromises and a lot of defeats,” he wrote.

Correction, Mr. McLaughlin: the path to Bobby Jindal’s version of smaller government requires ruthlessness, vindictiveness, and unparalleled selfishness.

While one might justifiably think that Jindal’s political career is dead and buried, is it even remotely possible that he might be plotting a comeback?

Already, there are the first rumblings that Jindal is eying the 2019 gubernatorial campaign.

Just in case, perhaps someone should send McLaughlin a copy of my book, Bobby Jindal: His Destiny and Obsession. Not that he would change his mind, but at least he would have no excuse for not knowing.

And just in case you’ve not ordered your copy yet, click on the image of the book at upper right and place your order immediately.

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LouisianaVoice’s disdain for the State Ethics Board has been no secret since Bobby Jindal gutted the board’s power only days after taking office in 2008, causing the board’s membership to resign as a group.

But even the toothless Ethics Board did what Natchitoches attorney Taylor Townsend, paid thousands of taxpayer dollars to conduct an investigation, could not do, according to a Thursday (December 8) newsletter from none other than the Louisiana State Troopers Association (LSTA).

Almost a year to the day after LouisianaVoice broke the STORY on December 9, 2015, of illegal campaign contributions made by LSTA through its executive director and lobbyist David Young, the Ethics Board imposed a $5,000 fine on LSTA for its clumsy manner of funneling more than $45,000 in campaign contributions to various candidates over a period of several years.

LSTA is a tax-exempt organization and is allowed to make political contributions but the manner in which it did so has raised major legal issues and may even have prompted a federal investigation, LouisianaVoice also learned.

While the Ethics Commission has yet to issue a formal announcement of the fine, word was received via a newsletter sent to LSTA members.

At the same time, word was learned for the first time of a federal investigation of LSTA, presumably also over the association’s method of making the prohibited contributions. In the paragraph immediately below word of the fine the newsletter said: “Federal Grand Jury—Nothing new to report.”

The newsletter also announced for the first time the troop-by-troop vote to oust four retired troopers who lodged the initial complaint about the political contributions:

Louisiana Board of Ethics complaint – The Ethics Board has completed its investigation and has ruled against the LSTA. The LSTA was fined $5,000.00 on how political contributions were made in the past.

Federal Grand Jury – Nothing new to report.

Troop A made a motion to remove LSTA members (REDACTED), Blaine Matte, Leon “Bucky” Millet, and Tanny Devillier and for each member to be voted on separately. Troop L seconded the motion.

  • (REDACTED TO PROTECT RETIREE): Troops B & C voted no, Troops A, D, E, F, G, L, & HQ voted yes. (Troop I and the Retiree Representative were absent for the board meeting) Motion passed 7-2.
  • Leon “Bucky” Millet: Troops B & C voted no, Troop E Abstained from voting, Troops A, D, F, G, L, & HQ voted yes. Motion passed 6-2.
  • Tanny Devillier: Troops B & C voted no, Troop E Abstained from voting, Troops A, D, F, G, L, & HQ voted yes. Motion passed 6-2.
  • Blaine Matte: Troops B & C voted no, Troop E Abstained from voting, Troops A. D, F, G, L, & HQ voted yes. Motion passed 6-2.

A letter will be sent to all four members who have been removed from the organization advising of such.

The cowardly action to revoke the membership of the four troopers who served honorably only serves to underscore LSTA’s determination to:

  • Silence the voice of dissenting opinion within the organization, a course that flies in the face of the law enforcement organization’s oath to protect the rights of citizens, including the First Amendment right of free speech;
  • Throw a cloak of secrecy over LSTA’s agenda and its actions;
  • Facilitate the transformation of LSTA’s mission from a benevolent organization to one with significant political clout.

LSTA laundered the political contributions by having Young write personal checks to candidates, including more than $10,000 each to Bobby Jindal and John Bel Edwards. Young would then submit an invoice for “expenses” equal to the amount of the contributions so as to conceal the true source of the campaign contributions—LSTA members who are active and retired state troopers but who are prohibited by law to engage in political activity.

Upon learning how the contributions were laundered through Young’s personal bank account, Edwards returned his contribution but Jindal apparently did not.

Young subsequently admitted to the Louisiana State Police Commission (LSPC), the state police equivalent to the State Civil Service Board, but which has oversight only of state police, that the method was employed as a means of circumventing state law which prohibits political activity by individual state troopers.

LSPC eventually voted to retain former State Senator Townsend, now a private attorney in Natchitoches, to conduct an investigation of the contributions and to report back to the commission. Instead, after a cursory investigation, Townsend declined to submit a written report and recommended verbally that no action be taken.

His failure to find enough evidence against individual members of (LSTA) was nothing short of a shameful whitewash, given the thousands of dollars the questionable investigation cost Louisiana taxpayers.

When LouisianaVoice made a public records request for Townsend’s report and a copy of a key audio recording of a meeting of one of the affiliate members of LSTA at which it was openly admitted that the organization had “violated the law,” Townsend responded that there was no report and that the recording was “never entered into evidence,” and therefore was not a public record.

Because of the manner in which Townsend’s “investigation” received such superficial treatment, skeptics immediately speculated that the probe was quashed from a higher authority, possibly by Edwards himself. State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson, who is closely allied with the LSTA leadership, was reappointed by Edwards who in turn, is closely tied to Townsend.

But the sham of an investigation by Townsend takes on even more significance in light of the message sent by the Ethics Commission’s action and raises serious questions about the wisdom of engaging an ally of the governor for such a politically explosive matter as illegal contributions.

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