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Archive for the ‘Legislature, Legislators’ Category

Superintendent of State Police Mike Edmonson just cannot help himself. He can’t.

While he stood in front of the TV cameras and said he is ultimately accountable for the state of chaos his office finds itself in, he still refuses to accept responsibility for specific actions.

Back in 2014, when LouisianaVoice first became aware of Edmonson’s ability for deception through the latest revelations about his usurping an award from one of the most respected State Troopers in Louisiana, he has repeatedly attempted to shift blame onto others.

And while I am by no means qualified as a psychologist or a psychiatrist, Dr. Sam Vaknin, in his book Malignant Self Love: Narcissism Revisited, classifies this behavior as a form of narcissism. More about that later but first, let’s examine the brief history of our coverage of Edmonson and Louisiana State Police (LSP).

  • In the closing minutes of the 2014 legislative session, State Sen. Neil Riser (R-Columbia), an announced candidate for State Treasurer, slipped an amendment onto an otherwise benign, obscure bill that would have increased Edmonson’s retirement by some $55,000 per year. Riser (did we mention he’s a candidate for State Treasurer) assured fellow legislators that the bill had no economic impact and the bill with the attached amendment sailed through with even then State Rep. John Bel Edwards voting in favor.

LouisianaVoice received an anonymous tip about the ruse and broke the story and the backlash was immediate. Edmonson, as his emerging behavioral traits would reveal over time, disavowed any knowledge of the effort by then Capt. Jason Starnes, though it’s absurd to think Starnes would ever attempt such a move without the blessings of his boss. Edmonson, in fact, later admitted that he was aware of the amendment and did, in fact, give the go-ahead to Starnes.

Starnes, meanwhile, has seen his career skyrocket. His salary has gone from $59,800 as a lieutenant to his current salary of $150,750, an increase of 152 percent. Most recently, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and given a $25,000 raise—after Edmonson assured the Louisiana State Police Commission (LSPC) in August that the creation of the post of supervisor of management and finance would not incur any additional costs.

  • When LouisianaVoice learned that the Louisiana State Troopers’ Association (LSTA) had laundered campaign contributions to various politicians through the personal bank account of the LSTA executive director, Edmonson again denied any involvement. But how many really believe the LSTA would act of its own accord in approving campaign contributions?
  • Edmonson also denied that he asked the LSTA to write a letter to Governor-elect John Bel Edwards in December 2015 endorsing Edmonson for reappointment to lead state police for another four years. LSTA ultimately ditched the idea, but how did it come up in the first place? Edmonson desperately wanted to hold onto the job and sources say his denial notwithstanding, he requested the LSTA to write such a letter.
  • Now he’s claiming he had no knowledge of the side trip to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon taken by four troopers as they drove Deputy Superintendent Lt. Col. Charles Dupuy’s state vehicle to San Diego for the convenience of Edmonson.

Yet, there was his signature on the expense report of Maj. Derrell Williams, head of Internal Affair, who was the senior officer of the four who drove the vehicle. So how could he have not known?

  • His explanation? It was a signature stamp affixed to the report by his secretary. Not his fault, in other words.

Seriously, Mike? You’ve already thrown the four who drove Dupuy’s Ford Expedition at your direction under the bus. Now you’re going to throw your secretary under the bus as well?

We’re beginning to detect a disturbing trend here.

At least you admitted that Michelle Hyatt, wife of Lt. Rodney Hyatt, was a civilian passenger in the Expedition along with the four troopers in that cross-country jaunt. It’s going to be interesting to see how you manage to shift that responsibility onto your subordinates.

Now, back to Dr. Sam Vaknin and his book about narcissism. Among his descriptions of narcissistic behavior:

  • A “consummate manipulator of human emotions.”
  • Convincing, deviously successful.
  • Uses anything and anyone to secure his dose of “narcissistic supply” and discards, without hesitation those he deems “useless.”
  • They disguise their behavior in order to “humiliate, create dependence, intimidate, restrain, control and paralyze.”
  • They employ “very simple” deceptive mechanisms to achieve their goals.
  • He usually is unaware of why he is doing what he is doing and is generally unable to predict the outcomes of his actions and is “powerless” to modify his behavior.
  • He is unable to determine why he does what he does or why he chooses one mode of action over other available under the same circumstances.

GEORGE SIMON, Ph.D., puts another way:

  • When they blame others for their wrongful acts, it’s simply an attempt to justify their stance by casting themselves as being in a position where they simply had no choice but to respond the way they did. In this way, they simultaneously evade responsibility as well as manipulate and manage the impressions of others. The tactic goes hand in hand with the tactic of portraying oneself as a victim. It’s typically an effective tactic that gets others to pay attention to everyone or everything else except the disordered character and his wrongful behavior as the source of a problem.

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One thing we’ve learned about the Louisiana State Troopers Association (LSTA), the independent lobbying organization for Louisiana State Police (LSP), is that despite a recent $5,000 fine for illegally making political contributions, the organization was far from through.

At the 2016 LSTA retreat in New Orleans held at the Omni Hotel Jan. 18-20, former Speaker of the House Chuck Kleckley (R-Lake Charles), who was front and center on state police pay raise issues, was rewarded for his work on behalf of State Police while in office.

While retiring state troopers are usually given a watch, the LSTA board voted to purchase a handgun costing several hundred dollars for Kleckley.

Technically speaking, the presentation of a handgun by a grateful LSTA was not a “political” contribution, given the fact that term limited Kleckley had left office on Jan. 11, a whole week before he was given the gift.

It’s interesting to note that state ethics laws strictly prohibit the receipt of anything of value by state employees but do not apply to barely out of office legislators.

LSTA New Orleans / January 20, 2016

Meeting with Command Staff

Col. Edmondson, Major Jason Starnes and Col. Dupuy addressed the board of directors. Command Staff covered LSP issues, Legislative issues and LSTA issues.

A Motion was made by Mr. Rodney Hyatt for the LSTA to purchase a handgun for Mr. Chuck Kleckley, seconded by Mr. Badeaux with no objections, the motion passed.

Here is the State Board of Ethics agenda item dealing with the LSTA contributions:

Louisiana State Board of Ethics Agenda

Friday, January 20, 2017
Docket No. 15-1385

Assigned Attorney: Jennifer Land
Re: Consent opinion regarding the Louisiana State Troopers Association making campaign contributions in the name of its executive director and then later reimbursing him for those contributions.
Law: La. R.S. 18:1505.2A(1) provides that no person shall give, furnish, or contribute monies, materials, supplies, or make loans to or in support of a candidate or to any political committee, through or in the name of another, directly or indirectly.
Facts:The Louisiana State Troopers Association and its executive director, David Young, signed a consent opinion for violating La. R.S. 18:1505.2A(1) and paid a civil penalty of $5,000.

 *(Source: Louisiana Ethics Commission’s Internet web page)

It is well-documented here as it has been elsewhere that when Bobby Jindal refashioned the Louisiana Board of Ethics in 2008, ethics laws for public officials were effectively gutted and the Ethics Board rendered all but impotent. His ethics “reform” prompted mass resignation of ethics board members who were the only ones at the time to understand the significance of what he had done. Besides usurping the board’s enforcement powers, the move effectively dismissed outstanding ethics violations charges against several of Jindal’s legislative allies.

But even the Ethics Board in its weakened condition was able to do what attorney Taylor Townsend, hired to investigate the LSTA’s campaign contributions, could not. Townsend, hired to investigate what appeared to be a money laundering type of scam to conceal illegal political campaign contributions by Louisiana state troopers could find no reason to even file a written report, let alone take any definitive action against troopers involved in the decision to make the contributions.

So, perhaps Mr. Townsend, in light of the Ethics Board’s actions on Docket No. 15-1385 cited above, can tell us just what he did to earn that $75,000 stipulated in his contract. He certainly doesn’t appear to have investigated anything.

While Townsend may not have been able to find any reason for punishing those responsible for the decision to funnel Louisiana State Troopers’ Association’s (LSTA) funds through its Executive Director David Young in an obvious attempt to circumvent civil service or in this case, Louisiana State Police Commission rules, retired State Trooper Leon “Bucky” Millet isn’t giving up so easily.

Millet has filed a formal complaint with both State Police Internal Affairs and with the Louisiana Office of Inspector General.

In an apparent effort to held Inspector General Stephen Street prove that his office is something more than expensive window dressing and to assist him in any investigation his office may choose to pursue, Millet also included a 2001 decision by the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeal. That decision upheld a lower court ruling that the City of Kenner was justified in firing members of the executive board of the Kenner police association for making political contributions.

Rather than read the entire ruling, the key passage in the court’s decision is highlighted in yellow on pages 1, 3, and 4.

Of course no good deed goes unpunished. When Millet and three other retired state troopers voiced their objections to the political contributions (which included $10,000 each to Bobby Jindal and John Bel Edwards over a period of two election cycles), they became marked men by their brothers in blue—at least by those on the LSTA board.

With only two “no” votes (by Troop Presidents Chris Brown of Troop B and Larry Badeaux of Troop C), the four retirees were unceremoniously kicked out of the LSTA, their combined memberships of half a century revoked—with no reason given other than that it could. So much for backing the blue from within. So much for any pretense of inviting, or even allowing differing opinions. Get caught laundering money and punish the whistleblowers. It’s the classic “shoot the messenger” type of action that LSP is supposed to be above.

Unfortunately, LSTA has shown it is run by petty, vindictive people unwilling to accept responsibility for their own actions.

Here is the portion of the minutes to the Nov. 2, 2016, LSTA Board meeting in which the votes were taken to expel the four retirees:

Louisiana State Troopers Association

November 2, 2016 Meeting Minutes

Meeting Title: Louisiana State Troopers Association Board Meeting

Date of Meeting: November 2, 2016

Where: LSTA Office, 8120 Jefferson Highway Baton Rouge, LA 70809

Start Time:          9:00 AM

The meeting was called to order by President Jay O’Quinn. The meeting opened with the pledge of allegiance led by Jay O’Quinn followed by a prayer by David Young.

Jay O’Quinn called roll as follows:

Derek Sentino, Troop A President

Chris Brown, Troop B President

Larry Badeaux, Troop C President

Chance Thomas, Troop D President

Chris Wright, Troop E President

Andy Stephenson, Troop F President

Hack Willis, Troop G President

Dale Latham, Troop I President (Absent)

Heath Miller, Troop L President

Rodney Hyatt, HQ President

Doussan Rando, Retiree Rep (Absent)

Jay O’Quinn, LSTA President

David Young, Executive Director

Old Business:

David Young updated the board on the Ethics Board investigation and its findings. The ethics board has ruled against the LSTA and fined the LSTA $5000.00.

A MOTION was made by Derek Sentino to accept the advice of our attorneys, acknowledgement of the facts of the Ethics Board ruling and pay the $5000.00 fine.  Seconded by Chance Thomas. No opposition.  The motion passed.

A MOTION was made by Derek Sentino to remove LSTA members Jesse Perry, Blaine Matte, Leon “Bucky” Millet and Tanny Devillier and for each removal of a member to be voted on separately. Seconded by Heath Miller. 

Roll Call Vote: Jesse Perry

Derek Sentino, Troop A President – Yes

Chris Brown, Troop B President – No

Larry Badeaux, Troop C President – No

Chance Thomas, Troop D President – Yes

Chris Wright, Troop E President – Yes

Andy Stephenson, Troop F President – Yes

Hack Willis, Troop G President – Yes

Dale Latham, Troop I President – Absent

Heath Miller, Troop L President – Yes

Rodney Hyatt, HQ President – Yes

Doussan Rando, Retiree Representative – Absent

Vote: 7-2, Passed

Roll Call Vote: Leon Millet. 

Derek Sentino, Troop A President – Yes

Chris Brown, Troop B President – No

Larry Badeaux, Troop C President – No

Chance Thomas, Troop D President – Yes

Chris Wright, Troop E President- Abstain

Andy Stephenson, Troop F President – Yes

Hack Willis, Troop G President – Yes

Dale Latham, Troop I President – Absent

Heath Miller, Troop L President – Yes

Rodney Hyatt, HQ President – Yes

Doussan Rando, Retiree Representative – Absent

Vote: 6-2, Passed

Roll Call Vote: Tanny Devillier

Derek Sentino, Troop A President – Yes

Chris Brown, Troop B President – No

Larry Badeaux, Troop C President – No

Chance Thomas, Troop D President – Yes

Chris Wright, Troop E President – Abstain

Andy Stephenson, Troop F President – Yes

Hack Willis, Troop G President – Yes

Dale Latham, Troop I President – Absent

Heath Miller, Troop L President – Yes

Rodney Hyatt, HQ President – Yes

Doussan Rando, Retiree Representative – Absent

Vote: 6-2, Passed

Roll Call Vote: Blaine Matte

Derek Sentino, Troop A President – Yes

Chris Brown, Troop B President – No

Larry Badeaux, Troop C President – No

Chance Thomas, Troop D President – Yes

Chris Wright, Troop E President – Abstain

Andy Stephenson, Troop F President – Yes

Hack Willis, Troop G President – Yes

Dale Latham, Troop I President – Absent

Heath Miller, Troop L President – Yes

Rodney Hyatt, HQ President – Yes

Doussan Rando, Retiree Representative – Absent

Vote: 6-2, Passed

A MOTION was made by Derek Sentino to send a letter to the four members who have been removed from the LSTA. Seconded by Chris Brown. No Opposition, the motion passed.

So no one on the board had the nerve to tell them to their faces. They were notified by letter.

Real class.

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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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Bobby Jindal, the Rhode Scholar who rode into town on the crest of a billion-dollar surplus nine years ago this month, rode out 12 months ago leaving the state wallowing in red ink and now it is learned that he inflicted even more fiscal carnage on his way out the door.

And knowing the way in which he and his final Commissioner of Administration, Kristy Nichols, juggled the books, it’s not at all unreasonable to think that Jindal’s final example of fiscal irresponsibility may well have been an intentional act of political chicanery carried out to buy him time so that his successor would be left with the mess to clean up. (Of course, Kristy didn’t become commissioner until Paul Rainwater left in 2012, but that does not change the fact that a lot of dollars were moved around—swept—before and after she was promoted.)

Hey! It’s not that far-fetched. He did it with the Office of Group Benefits. He did it with higher education. He did it with the LSU Hospital System. Boy, did he do it with the hospital system—with a contract containing 50 blank pages, yet!

By the time Jindal left office, virtually the only state agency left with a shred of credibility and integrity was the office of the Legislative Auditor—and that’s largely because the office has complete autonomy and is independent from outside political pressure, particularly from the governor’s office.

And now, coincidentally, it is that same Legislative Auditor who has issued a damning AUDIT REPORT that reveals a major SNAFU (if that’s truly what it was) in which the Jindal administration “misclassified” a $34.6 million default payment made by Northrop Grumman Ship Systems made in 2011.

The payment was made to Louisiana Economic Development after the shipyard failed to meet required hiring quotas but instead of using the money to pay off equipment the state had financed for Northrop Grumman, the audit says the Division of Administration “swept” the money when it was balancing the budget. As a result, the state has already paid some $2 million in interest and administrative costs on the equipment, and is potentially on the hook for some $6.2 million more.

Bobby and Kristy loved the process of “sweeping” agencies of excess funds lying around in order to try and plug gaping holes in the state budget that dogged Jindal every single year he was governor. “Sweeping” for funds is something like picking up crumbs off the floor in an attempt to gather enough to make a bundt cake.

“Since the debt could not be immediately defeased (a provision that voids a bond or loan) because of the limited prepayment options, the funds should have been segregated into a sinking account for defeasement of the debt, not a statutorily dedicated fund account that could be swept by legislative action,” the audit report says.

But the Louisiana Office of Economic Development (LED), then headed by $300,000-a-year Director Stephen Moret, failed to do that and, presto! The funds got swept by the Jindal Housecleaning Service and as a result, the state “will continue to incur additional interest and administrative costs until the debt (on the equipment) is defeased,” the audit reads. “If not defeased before the Oct. 2022 … the state will incur more than $6.2 million in additional interest and administrative costs.”

LED entered into a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement with Northrop Grumman in the early 2000s. The company had acquired Avondale Shipyard in Jefferson Parish and Northrop Grumman, under the terms of the deal, agreed to maintain employment levels of some 3,500 jobs a year with an economic impact of $1 billion. In return, the state agreed, among other things, to issue bonds to finance more than $34 million worth of cranes and equipment that would modernize the shipyard.

But dreams and schemes are made of fragile things. Northrop Grumman fell short of its job requirements and LED notified the company in early 2011 that it wasn’t living up to its employment obligations. Northrop Grumman agreed to settle with the state for $34.6 million, which represented the acquisition cost of the equipment. It wired the money to LED in March 2011, the report says.

But the state didn’t use the money to pay off the debt on the equipment, nor did it set the funds aside in an escrow account to pay it off in the future. Instead, it “swept” the money into the Louisiana Medical Assistance Trust Fund, was enacted during the 2011 session to help supplement the state’s Medicaid program.

But don’t worry, folks. It’s just another example of the superb financial management of the state’s resources about which Jindal would boast—in Iowa, certainly not Louisiana—during his comical quest for the Republican presidential nomination in 2015, his final year I office.

And now the state finds itself hanging out to dry while trying to come up with that long gone $34.6 million, plus about $2 million in interest and administrative costs.

In a written response to the audit’s findings, Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne pointed out that Jindal’s actions, while ill-advised, were nonetheless legal. “The (Jindal) administration’s decision to use the funds for other purposes was not prohibited by the terms of the (agreement) with Northrop Grumman,” he says, noting that the Legislature approved of the financial maneuver.

Perhaps, but we all know the definitions of the legal thing and the right thing are sometimes poles apart. In this case, those responsible knew what that $34.6 million was for and they chose to do what was legal but not what was right.

The question now is does the Office of Risk Management carry excess coverage that would allow the State to make a claim for recovery of the money on the basis of stupidity? Should Jindal, Nichols, and Moret be asked to dig deep into their pockets to come up with the money?

Nah. It’ll never happen.

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LouisianaVoice was founded more than five years ago on the belief that not enough was being done to expose official wrongdoing. I set out with the stated purpose of connecting the dots between campaign money and bad law and going into any parish, anytime to contribute in some small way to rooting out the rot that has for too long corrupted this state.

Of course, there have been the occasional book reviews, stories about friends (and pets) who have died, and a couple of April Fool’s stories that apparently were of sufficient originality to have tricked some of my readers. But those aside, I have stuck steadfastly to my original mission of shining a light into the dark corners of the state that I love in the hope of somehow bringing about a change in the way public officials have historically treated the citizenry like so many serfs in some personal fiefdom.

And while there has been no shortage of such stories to write (notwithstanding my wife’s tongue-in-cheek prediction of a couple of years ago that I’d have nothing to write about when Bobby Jindal left office), there is the occasional story that merits special attention.

This is one of those.

It’s about a man who carried out what is probably one of the most painful things a man can do: turn in his own son for suspected criminal activity, in this case committed against the district attorney’s office in the 12th Judicial District in Avoyelles Parish.

The father’s name is Charles Riddle III.

He is the District Attorney for Avoyelles Parish.

Riddle is a former State Representative who, in 1999 introduced legislation that became Act 1118 which prohibited the state from recovery of the costs paid by the state under Medicaid for individuals residing in nursing homes. The act protected the patients’ homes from seizure.

He co-authored the bill that made Louisiana State University in Alexandria a four-year school and in 1997. He also introduced the constitutional amendment that ultimately allowed LSU to take control of the Louisiana Charity Hospital System which created one of the premier teaching hospitals in the nation until the system was dismantled by Bobby Jindal.

He was reelected in 1995 and 1999 and resigned from the legislature in 2003 after being elected as district attorney. He was re-elected without opposition both in 2008 and 2014 and in 2008 he was elected President of the Louisiana District Attorneys Association.

His selection in 2012 to the Louisiana Justice Hall of Fame appears in retrospect to have been justified by his subsequent candor as a father and his dedication as a public official sworn to uphold the law impartially, uniformly and fairly.

Riddle took to Facebook with what the BATON ROUGE ADVOCATE described as “an emotional post that his son, John Riddle, is also being investigated for possible wrongdoing in Avoyelles Parish—in a case where the DA’s Office is the alleged victim and his father is the complainant.”

Riddle told The Advocate he could not discuss the case in which his office was victimized in detail but did say his son took advantage of his access to “certain things” because of their relationship. He said he personally called Marksville police to report what he felt was a criminal violation by his son.

In an apparently unrelated development, John Riddle was arrested by St. Tammany officials for trashing a hotel room and for possessing counterfeit money.

The elder Riddle said he wanted to defuse the story about his son because, he said, people have tried to use his son’s legal problems “in an effort to gain a more favorable result by threatening me in a form of blackmail, thinking that I would do anything to protect my son,” Charles Riddle wrote.

Riddle said his office would be recused from involvement in any case filed against his son in Avoyelles Parish; instead, the matter would be handled by the state Attorney General’s Office.

“Know that as a parent, I love my son and will do what any parent would do to obtain the correct result. Yet, I will not compromise this office. I do not condone any action that he is accused of doing,” he said.

In light of recent stories by LouisianaVoice about preferential treatment accorded by district attorneys in St. Landry and Livingston parishes to an individual with a laundry list of felonies and misdemeanors, including multiple DWIs, Charles Riddle’s story, while heartbreaking, is nonetheless a refreshing change from the norm.

In short, Charles Riddle’s character and honesty has shone through in this unfortunate incident and his handling of a difficult matter has shown all of us what public service should be about.

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