Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Politicians’ Category

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.

Read Full Post »

There are times when, after you break a major story about official wrongdoing and after the requisite denials by those involved, everything gets quiet and the story seems to have hit a dead end. Or at least been placed in a state of suspended animation.

But generally, if you are willing to be patient and wait long enough, the story gets new life with the surfacing of new information.

So it was a year ago when LouisianaVoice and New Orleans Fox8 News investigative reporter Lee Zurik simultaneously broke a STORY that Troy Hebert, former director of the Office of Louisiana Alcohol and Tobacco Control (and furtive candidate for the U.S. Senate last fall—he got one-half of one percent of the vote), was under investigation by the FBI for:

  • Extorting sex from a New Orleans woman, Sarah Palmer, in exchange for approval of a liquor license for the French Quarter restaurant she managed, and
  • Illegally steered applicants for liquor licenses to attorney Chris Young for representation through Young’s sister, Judy Pontin, executive management officer for the New Orleans ATC office.

Now, thanks to a wrongful termination lawsuit filed against Hebert by a former ATC agent, those same issues have surfaced again.

Documents concerning still another issue, the suppressing of an investigation into a Baton Rouge bar following a 2012 accident involving a patron of the bar who had a blood alcohol content of .307 when he struck and killed two cyclists, killing one and injuring the other.

LouisianaVoice wrote in a February 2016 POST that Hebert wrongfully took control of the investigation and personally exonerated the Bulldog Bar from any wrongdoing. Chris Young was legal counsel for the Bulldog.

The only problem for fired ATC agent Brett Tingle, who filed the lawsuit against Hebert, it’s possible that none of Hebert’s repeatedly invoking the Fifth Amendment in a deposition will be allowed into testimony.

Federal Judge John DeGravelles of Louisiana’s Middle District in Baton Rouge, currently has under advisement Hebert’s motion for protective order filed by attorney Renee Culotta which would, if granted, prohibit Tingle’s attorney, J. Arthur Smith, III, from posing any questions at trial about Hebert’s relationship with Palmer and/or Young.

In Hebert’s deposition taken in December in preparation for trial in the Tingle matter, Hebert repeatedly invoked the Fifth Amendment when Palmer’s name was brought up by Smith, as illustrated by the following exchanges:

  • Smith: “Do you recognize this (redacted) document?”
  • Hebert: “I’m going to exercise my Fifth Amendment right.”
  • Smith: “Do you know a lady by the name of Sara (sic) Palmer?”
  • Hebert: “I’m going to exercise my Fifth Amendment right.”
  • Smith: “Have you engaged in any infidelity during your marriage to Dawn Vick?”
  • Hebert: “I’m going to exercise my Fifth Amendment right.”
  • Smith: “That’s not a Fifth Amendment matter.”
  • Smith” I’m going to show you Exhibit No. 9 (redacted). What is this document, sir?
  • Hebert: I will exercise my Fifth Amendment right.”
  • Smith: “So with respect to Exhibit No. 9, you’re exercising your Fifth Amendment right”
  • Hebert: “I answered the question.”
  • Smith: “I’ll show you (exhibit) No. 10 (redacted). Do you recognize the Exhibit No. 10?”
  • Hebert: “I will exercise my Fifth Amendment right.”

While the exhibits were redacted in Hebert’s Memorandum of Support for obvious reasons, the motion did note that exhibits eight and nine were “documents concerning” Louisiana Oyster House, dba Star Steak and Lobster (the restaurant managed by Palmer), notably a notice of violation and renewal applications. Exhibit 10, Culotta said, “concerned Chris Young documents previously attached to Hebert’s deposition as Exhibit 10-12.”

Interestingly, in his Memorandum in Support of his Motion for Protective Order, Hebert said that while he has not been indicted and there is “no active criminal case” against him… “It is clear Hebert has been under investigation by the FBI, and should he provide answers to these questions, he could face indictment and criminal prosecution.” (Emphasis added.)

And this memorandum, we should point out, was written by Hebert’s attorney, Renee Culotta, who is being paid thousands of dollars while under contract to the Attorney General’s office as a contract attorney—just as she was in a previous lawsuit against ATC, that of Lisa Pike, a former ATC employee who also sued Hebert. The terms of that settlement have been held confidential by the court.

LouisianaVoice has made a public records request for Culotta’s billing for legal representation in the Pike matter. Her billing in the defense of the Tingle lawsuit would not be made available because the case is ongoing.

Culotta said in the memorandum that allegations by Palmer against Hebert “occurred in January 2016, well after Tingle’s work for and termination from the ATC. Tingle did not participate in any issue concerning Sarah Palmer and/or Steak and Lobster, and no facts about Palmer or Steak and Lobster are contained in (Tingle’s) complaint.

“Likewise, the issues concerning Chris Young (i.e., whether Hebert gave preferential treatment to Young and/or referred clients to Young as part of an illegal scheme) are also not a part of this lawsuit and are not relevant to and have no bearing on whether Hebert allegedly retaliated against Tingle because of Tingle’s participation in the race discrimination charges and lawsuits filed by three African-American employees.

Tingle’s counsel’s questions and discovery concerning Chris Young and/or Sarah Parker were only meant to embarrass and harass Hebert,” Culotta said in her memorandum.

“Hebert cannot fully defend himself in the civil case (i.e., by explaining his position concerning Young, Palmer and (t)he Star Steak and Lobster license renewal) while the threat of criminal prosecution is looming.

“Plaintiff cannot have it both ways: if he intends to pursue this evidence, he then must agree to a stay in order that Hebert can defend himself without threat of criminal prosecution.

“Defendant Troy Hebert respectfully requests (that) this court issue a protective order forbidding plaintiff’s counsel from discovering, asking any questions about or referencing Chris Young, Sarah Palmer and/or the Star Steak and Lobster restaurant going forward in this litigation. To the extent plaintiff claims these issues are relevant, then Hebert respectfully asks the court to stay the proceedings until the statute of limitations has run on any criminal charges that could be brought in connection with these matters.” (Emphasis added.)

Now I don’t pretend to be a legal scholar. Journalism schools (or at least the one I attended) sadly do not require any courses in law even though any career journalist is going to be covering courtroom procedure at some point during his career.

That said, it appears to me that someone is one helluva lot more concerned with potential criminal exposure than any civil liability.

But then, that’s understandable. If a public official is convicted of criminal wrongdoing, he is the one who is penalized. If, on the other hand, a civil verdict is returned against that same individual, it is the taxpayer who ultimately pays whatever judgment is assessed.

Read Full Post »

One thing about Louisiana politics: the only constant is that the rumors are never ceasing.

Another is that even though the rumors may be baseless, sometimes the logic behind them can actually make sense.

Sort of.

That is, if anything in Louisiana politics makes sense.

And so it is that those close to Gov. John Bel Edwards have been called upon to deny rumors—and they have—that he is courting the Republican Party as he ponders the political practicality of a switcheroo, a-la Buddy Roemer, John Kennedy, John Alario, and former U.S. Reps. Billy Tauzin and Rodney Alexander.

Still, according to a high-ranking State Republican Party official, Edwards’s intermediaries have been talking with State Republican Party Chairman Roger Villere about that very possibility. Efforts by LouisianaVoice to reach Villere for a comment have been unsuccessful.

Gov. Edwards’s office categorically denies the report, hinting if anything, it was the Republican Party that asked him to the dance.

Either way, it’s now got both sides flinging rocks at each other with the next governor’s election nearly three years away yet.

As with any decision of such magnitude, fraught with perils as it would certainly be (it worked for Kennedy and Alexander but not so much for Roemer), there are plenty of pros and cons.

First the pros:

Remember those old (and I do mean old) Tareyton cigarette ads in which some happy smoker sporting a black eye proclaims that he/she would rather fight than switch?

Image result for i'd rather fight than switch

Well, in Edwards’s case, it could be that he’d rather switch than fight.

The worst-kept secret (if, indeed it is still a secret to anyone) in the state is that Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry is in a four-year campaign mode for the governorship. And Landry takes verbal (and legal) swipes at Edwards at every opportunity in his blatant self-promotion.

With $3 million already in his campaign coffers, what better way to cut the attorney general off at the knees than to take away Landry’s fund-raising capabilities while adding to his own? As one political observer put it, “If Edwards switches to Republican, $3 million might be enough. Landry won’t be able to buy a Chik-fil-A sandwich. Edwards would be the beneficiary of that scenario because the Republican money would allow him to raise even more cash.”

There’s also this: as a Republican governor, he would be able to do what he could not as a Democrat: name his choice for Speaker of the House.

Another, a former state official, said, “The Democratic Party in Louisiana is gravely disappointing and I have to wonder the extent to which what is happening here is replicated in other states and at the national level, i. e., if Democrats in power have essentially given up on their own party.

“As you know, (State Rep.) Karen Carter Peterson and former U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu tried to talk JBE out of even running (they wanted to support Dardenne) and it took him forever to get support from the national party in D.C.

“When is the last time our state party has come up with a viable candidate for anything? Was Hillary Clinton really the best the party could come up with as a POTUS candidate? Really? JBE got elected because the stars were aligned against Vitter—and look how long it took Republicans to essentially give up on Vitter. I had/have some hope for JBE. If he jumps ship, I guess the only place to go is independent which, to me, is like ceding all power to the Republicans and their führer.”

Another possible benefit to crossing over is Donald Trump. As vindictive, petulant, petty, vile and vicious as he is crazy, Trump would never hesitate to hit Louisiana where it hurts if it had a governor who insisted on partisan politics: the state treasury.

Louisiana already is the second most-reliant on federal funds of the 50 states. We are behind only Mississippi (but barely) in slopping at the federal trough. To see a cut in the influx of federal dollars for a variety of programs would only add to the already draconian budgetary woes facing the state.

On the con side, there is the obvious potential political fallout.

Politicians who change parties sometimes have a tough time of it, said a state employee who tends to keep his finger on the political pulse. “They are despised in the party they leave, and they are not trusted in the party they join. Buddy Roemer and John Connolly of Texas come to mind. However, Richard Shelby of Alabama changed from the Democratic Party to the GOP back in the mid-1990s, and he is still in the United States Senate.”

Finally, a Baton Rouge attorney said Edwards has been a difficult governor to figure out. “He is a real enigma and very disappointing, thus far, to me as a moderate conservative who voted for him. I cannot imagine how the progressives and the left feel at this point.

“I have been unable to figure out what his goals are,” the attorney, a former state employee, said. “He is obviously very indebted to many groups, such as the Sheriffs’ Association. That, it clearly appears to me, keeps him from doing many things that would make him more successful.”

As we said, one source wired into the Edwards camp says it just ain’t so but we’ve all heard promises and denials before from our elected officials that in the end, turned out to be just so much hot air. He already is pro-life and pro-gun so half the battle’s won if he decides to go over.

So, the question is this: is this a non-story story on a slow news day or something major in the offing? The rumors and the denials are equally strong at this juncture so we’ll wait and see.

Edwards spokesperson Richard Carbo, reached by LouisianaVoice, expressed shock at the report. “Let me check this out and I’ll get right back to you. Give me five minutes.”

Two hours later he replied by text message: “I can confirm that neither the governor nor his ‘intermediaries’ have been in contact with the state GOP about changing parties.”

Carbo quickly followed with a second text that accused the Louisiana Republican Party of planting the rumor: “First the state GOP floats this idea, then backtrack(s) when the governor shows no interest. The governor did not have a single conversation regarding political parties. He’s too busy cleaning up their (Republicans’) budget mess. Roger Villere should stick to negotiating illegal Iraqi oil deals. He’s better at that than party leadership.

“Unless there’s a source named, the onus is on them,” he said.

His reference to Villere’s “negotiating illegal Iraqi oil deals” was in reference an April 12, 2016, LouisianaVoice STORY about Villere’s and Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser’s comedy of errors in being taken in by a con man promoting an oil deal with Iraq.

All of which just serves to support our advice: Never listen to what politicians say. In this case, observe instead, the governor’s action on the issues: taxes, education, higher education, etc. to get a true sense of which direction the political winds are blowing.

But above all else, remember that it’s the sincerity of the B.S. factor that trumps everything else (and no, that’s not a reference to anyone).

Read Full Post »

It was Memorial Day weekend in Baton Rouge last year, the weekend of the BAYOU COUNTRY SUPERFEST that had country music fans flocking to LSU’s Tiger Stadium. LSU subsequently cancelled its contract with promoters and this year’s event will take place in the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans.

But this story isn’t about Bayou Country Superfest.

It was several hours after the final performance of one night of the three-day event, around 3 a.m., in fact, that a black SUV was pulled over by a Baton Rouge police officer at the corner of Perkins and Acadian, only a few blocks south of I-10.

The officer, a member of the city’s DWI Strike Force, suspected the driver of driving while impaired, perhaps even intoxicated. In the SUV was a woman, a blonde. She was not the driver’s wife; she’s a brunette.

The driver, violating all protocol, exited his SUV and started toward the officer who, alarmed, is said to have pulled his weapon just before recognizing the driver as a high-ranking member of the governor’s administration.

Instead of escalating, as the situation could easily have done, the driver was inexplicably allowed to proceed on to his destination, driving that black SUV. He was not arrested, issued a citation or even asked to submit to a field sobriety test and the matter was quickly hushed up. Even the city officer, when asked about the incident, denied it ever happened. But later, when asked about the incident by a fellow officer, rather than deny it occurred, said instead, “I can’t talk about that.”

Yet the stories continue to persist nearly nine full months after the stop that the officer denies ever took place. LouisianaVoice was even given the officer’s name by no fewer than eight different, independent sources. At least when Bobby Jindal’s Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater was pulled over for DWI, there was no attempt to keep the arrest quiet and he paid his fines and court costs for the offense. The only thing that raised eyebrows was when State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson showed up and gave him a ride home—a courtesy no ordinary citizen sans political connections would likely be accorded.

Who made the decision to allow the driver to go on his way? It’s unlikely the officer would have assumed the responsibility for such a decision fraught with all kinds of downsides on his own. That would mean there had to be an order from up the chain of command within the Baton Rouge Police Department. The question then, is at what level of the command was the decision made, mid-level or from the very top?

Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie is probably on his way out. At least that’s the indication given by former State Sen. Sharon Weston Broome who was recently elect Baton Rouge’s new Mayor-President and inaugurated on Jan. 2, though Dabadie appears to be fighting to keep his job.

This is not to say Dabadie was ever even aware of the stop but if (and of course, at this stage, that’s a very speculative if)…if he is the one who put the kibosh on the stop and potential arrest of the state official, both men need to go. Immediately.

If he had any records of the pullover expunged from the police log, he could be found guilty of injuring public records under Louisiana R.S. 14:132 and he conceivably could face imprisonment. At any rate, if any records of the stop were destroyed on his watch, he must be held accountable for destruction of public records.

If records were never tampered with, then somewhere there is a paper trail that still exists, perhaps by now buried somewhere in the bowels of the BRPD.

LouisianaVoice is continuing to investigate the matter. We’ll let you know if anything develops. If not, the story probably will evaporate as did the ghost stop of a black SUV at 3 a.m. during the 2016 Bayou Superfest.

Read Full Post »

The Louisiana State Police Commission may have placed on its agenda for Thursday’s meeting an item to go into “executive session for discussion of professional competence” of commission Director Cathy Derbonne but an option that rests with Derbonne could put commission Chairman T.J. Doss behind the proverbial eight ball.

Doss is the State Police member on the commission. The remaining six members are appointed by the governor from each of the state’s Congressional districts.

Besides the item to enter into executive session, a separate item calls for “consideration of whether employment of the Director of State Police Commission should be continued or terminated.”

The entire proceeding, however could blow up in the faces of commissioners should Derbonne exercise her option to insist that all discussion be held in open session. Legally, she is entitled to make that call and if she does, there could be egg on the faces of Doss, Jared J Caruso-Riecke, et al.

In something of a plot twist, the web page of the State Police Commission was down briefly Wednesday night. Efforts to go onto the PAGE resulted in a message that the web address could not be accessed. The page was back online, however, after about 20 minutes.

Interestingly, the funneling of more than $40,000 in campaign contributions by the Louisiana State Troopers’ Association (LSTA) through its executive director produced only a sham of an investigation by a political ally of Gov. John Bel Edwards.

Natchitoches attorney and former State Sen. Taylor Townsend was hired under a $75,000 contract to “investigate” the contributions which were approved by the LSTA board of directors, comprised of state troopers, and laundered through LSTA Executive Director David Young. Young made the contributions, including $10,000 each to Bobby Jindal and Edwards, by writing checks on his personal account and then submitting expense invoices to the association.

Townsend, obviously taking his marching orders from up the food chain, declined to include as part of the evidence an audio recording of a meeting of troopers concerned about the contributions at which it was acknowledged that the LSTA violated the restrictions against state troopers becoming active in political campaigns, including making contributions. Townsend also failed to follow protocol in submitting a written report of his findings and instead, made only a verbal recommendation that “no action be taken.”

Townsend likewise has been silent on the issue of the manner in which commission members were appointed. When there is a vacancy, the commission chairman is required to notify the university president in that congressional district to solicit names for nominations from which list the governor makes his appointment.

Derbonne’s major transgression appears to be that she did her job, including notifying the governor’s office of the requirements for member appointments and of commission members who, like the LSTA, violated ethics rules by making political contributions while sitting on the board. Three members ultimately resigned because of that issue.

So, bottom line, what we have here is a failure to communicate (apologies to the late Strother Martin of Cool Hand Luke). An attorney who is a crony of the governor shirks his duty to the job for which he was contracted but still collects his fees and stands in good stead with the commission while Derbonne followed the dictates of her job and finds her job is on the line.

Way to go, guys. You should really feel good about yourselves. Eulis Simien, I really thought you had more integrity than to let yourself be manipulated by Doss and Edmonson.

Every time I hear Doss talk, I wonder how it feels to have Edmonson’s hand up his backside.

Calvin Braxton, you’ve already seen what can happen when you cross Mike Edmonson, but you’re going along with this fiasco anyway?

Monica J. Manzella, I’m really not that surprised; after all, you negotiate contracts with the State Police on behalf of the City of New Orleans. No conflict there.

Jared J Caruso-Riecke, Mike Edmonson obviously owns you.

Donald Breaux, we know where your loyalty lies with your special LSTA-1 license plate on your car.

You’re all a real piece of work.

How can Simien and Caruso-Riecke (appointed June 6) and Manzella (Oct. 11), who between them, have barely a year’s experience on the board, make any kind of intelligent judgment call as to the competence of Derbonne? The answer is, they can’t; they can only rely on the manipulations of Edmonson and Doss.

And that $75,000 investigation by Taylor Townsend only to get a verbal “I recommend no action.” It’s a damn good thing you weren’t heading up the investigation of the previous commission executive director DEBRA JOHNSON. Even the Office of Inspector General nailed her for felony theft, fraud, and malfeasance in office.

If anyone in this tragicomedy should be called to the carpet for misappropriation of funds, it should be Townsend. I could’ve done what he did for a measly five bucks and a beer from the bar run by LSTA over at the State Police training facility in Zachary.

We can only hope Derbonne will exercise her rights and make them do their dirty work out in the open for everyone to see.

And if you think firing a single employee—for no other reason that she insists on doing the right thing despite what Edmonson wants—will make your problems disappear, you’re so very wrong.

If you think LouisianaVoice has been a pain in the ass so far, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »