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Archive for the ‘Public Records’ Category

Were political considerations behind separate decisions by a state district judge to prohibit a contractor from seeking public records or a Second Circuit Court of Appeal judge to overturn a $20 million judgment against the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD)?

While definitive answers are difficult, there does seem to be sufficient reason to suspect that the lines between the judicial and administrative branches of government may have been blurred by the Second Circuit Chief Judge’s decision to negate the award to a contractor who a 12-person jury unanimously decided had been put out of business because he refused to acquiesce to attempts of bribery, extortion and conspiracy.

Judge Henry N. Brown, by assigning the case to himself and then writing the decision despite the fact his father had been a DOTD civil engineer for more than 40 years, may have placed federal funding for Louisiana highway projects in jeopardy.

And the RULING by 14th Judicial District Court Judge David A. Ritchie prohibiting Breaux Bridge contractor Billy Broussard from making legitimate public records requests of the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury or of the Calcasieu Parish Gravity Drainage District 8 would appear to be patently unconstitutional based solely on the state statute that gives any citizen of Louisiana the unfettered right to make public records requests of any public agency.

In Broussard’s case, he was contracted by Gravity Drainage District 8 to clean debris from Indian Bayou following Hurricane Rita in 2005. Work done by his company was to be paid by FEMA. Gravity Drainage District 8 instructed Broussard to also remove pre-storm debris from the bottom of the bayou, telling him that FEMA would pay for all his work.

FEMA, however, refused to pay for the pre-storm cleanup and Gravity Drainage District 8 subsequently refused to pony up. Broussard, represented then by attorney Jeff Landry, since elected Attorney General, filed a lien against the drainage district.

When Broussard lost his case before Judge Ritchie, he continued to pursue his claim and submitted this PUBLIC RECORDS REQUEST to the drainage district and to the police jury. Those efforts resulted in a heavy-handed LETTER from attorney Russell J. Stutes, Jr., which threatened Broussard with “jail time” if he persisted in his “harassment” of Calcasieu public officials.

And the injunction barring Broussard from future records requests, instead of being filed as a separate court document, was sought under the original lawsuit by Broussard, which presumably, if Stutes’s own letter is to be believed, was a final and thus, closed case. That tactic assured that Broussard would be brought before the original judge, i.e. Ritchie, who was already predisposed to rule against Broussard, no matter how valid a claim he had.

That was such a blatant maneuver that it left no lingering doubts that the cards were stacked against Broussard from the get-go. Everything was tied up in a neat little package, with a pretty bow attached. And Broussard was left holding a $2 million bag—and assessed court costs of $60,000 to boot.

In Jeff Mercer’s case, federal STATUTE U.S. Title 49 specifically prohibits discrimination against Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE). It further requires that all states receiving federal funding for transportation projects must have a DBE program.

Mercer, a Mangham contractor, sued DOTD after claiming that DOTD withheld more than $11 million owed him after he rebuffed shakedown efforts from a DOTD inspector who demanded that Mercer “put some green” in his hand and that he could “make things difficult” for him.

Mercer suffers from epilepsy, which qualified him for protection from discrimination under Title 49.

His attorney, David Doughty of Rayville, feels that Brown should never have assigned the case to himself, nor should he have been the one to write the opinion. Needless to say, Doughty does not agree with the decision. He has filed an APPLICATION FOR REHEARING in the hope of having Brown removed from the case.

LouisianaVoice conducted a search this LIST OF CASES REVERSED BY 2ND CIRCUIT and the Mercer case was the only one of 57 reversals decided by a jury.

So it all boils down to a simple equation: how much justice can you afford?

When an average citizen like Broussard or Mercer goes up against the system, things can be overwhelming and they can get that way in a hurry.

Because the government, be it DOTD, represented by the Louisiana Attorney General’s office, or a local gravity drainage district, represented by the district attorney, has a decided advantage in terms of manpower and financial resources, giving the individual little realistic chance of prevailing.

In Broussard’s case, he did not. Mercer, at least, won at the trial court level, but the process can wear anyone down and that’s just what the state relied upon when it appealed.

With virtually unlimited resources (I worked for the Office of Risk Management for 20 years and I saw how an original $10,000 defense contract can balloon to $100,000 or more with few questions asked), the government can simply hunker down for the long haul while starving out the plaintiff with delays, interrogatories, requests for production, expert costs, court reporter costs, filing fees and attorney fees. Keeping the meter running on costs is the most effective defense going.

The same applies, of course, to attempts to fight large corporations in court. Huge legal staffs with virtually unlimited budgets and campaign contributions to judges at the right levels all too often make the pursuit of justice a futile chase.

And when you move from the civil to the criminal courts where low income defendants are represented by underfunded indigent defender boards, the contrast is even more profound—and tragic, hence a big reason for Louisiana’s high incarceration rate.

The idea of equal treatment in the eyes of the law is a myth and for those seeking remedies to wrongdoing before an impartial court, it is often a cruel joke.

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You just gotta love Louisiana politics.

No, really. It’s probably the only institution where one can set up his own little fiefdom, reward those in positions to promote his career, get caught up in multiple scandals, be forced to resign and be commended, appreciated, and otherwise recognized for his years of “dedicated and distinguished” service.

Take, for instance, Senate Concurrent Resolution 122, hereafter referred to as SCR 122, by State Senate President John Alario (R-Westwego), which commended, expressed appreciation and otherwise praised former State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson. It passed by a 27-0 vote with 11 members either absent or not voting.

The resolution, which runs on for three full pages when a single paragraph would’ve sufficed, concludes with:

“BE IT RESOLVED that the Legislature of Louisiana does hereby commend and express appreciation to Superintendent of Louisiana State Police Colonel Michael David Edmonson on his retirement after thirty-six years of dedicated and distinguished service in law enforcement, including nine years as superintendent, and does hereby extend to him and his family full measures of continued success and happiness in their future endeavors.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a copy of this Resolution be transmitted to Mike Edmonson.”

It seems entirely fitting that this resolution would have been authored by Alario. After all, his son John W. Alario, serves as the $115,000 a year director of the DPS Liquefied Petroleum Gas Commission. That’s in the Department of Public Safety, where Edmonson also served as Deputy Secretary until his resignation.

LouisianaVoice also reported in September 2014 that John W. Alario’s wife, Dionne Alario, was hired in November 2013 at a salary of $56,300 to work out of her Westwego home supervising state police personnel in Baton Rouge—something of a logistics problem, to say the least. Well today, she is still there and now pulls down $58,500 per year. And she still works from home.

We were perfectly willing to let go of the Edmonson story after he resigned. But Sen. Alario’s resolution, however, compels us to review some of the highlights of Edmonson’s tenure as Superintendent of State Police.

Our first encounter with Edmonson came at the end of the 2014 legislative session when we learned that Charles Dupuy, who would rise to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, conspired, along with State Sen. Neil Riser (R-Columbia) and Gov. Bobby Jindal, to sneak the amendment to Senate Bill 294 during the closing minutes of the session that allowed Mike Edmonson a “do-over” on his decision to enter the state’s Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP) which froze his retirement at his pay at that time of his decision to participate in DROP.

The major problem with that little plan is that it left other state troopers and state employees who similarly opted to enter DROP and then received significant promotions or raises out in the cold because the amendment did not afford the same opportunity for them. Before it was revealed by LouisianaVoice and before State Sen. Dan Claitor successfully filed a lawsuit to prevent the move, Edmonson was in line for a whopping pension increase estimated as high as $100,000 per year when the raises to state police were factored into the equation. (Claitor, incidentally, was one of those voting in favor of Alario’s SCR 122 demonstrating, we suppose, that he does not hold grudges.)

Here are some other Edmonson actions we wrote about in 2014:

  • “Consultant” Kathleen Sill, placed on the state payroll and being paid $437,000 plus $12,900 in air travel for 21 flights for her between Baton Rouge and her Columbia, S.C. home.
  • DPS Undersecretary Jill Boudreaux’s taking a $46,000 cash payout incentive to retire early from her $92,000 per year salary as Deputy Undersecretary, plus about $13,000 in payment for 300 hours of accrued annual leave and then re-hiring herself two days later—with a promotion to Undersecretary and at a higher salary of $118,600—while keeping the incentive payment and annual leave payment. Then-Commissioner of Administration Angele Davis ordered her to repay the money but Davis resigned before she could follow through on her instructions. Under her successor, Paul Rainwater, the matter was quietly forgotten.
  • Boudreaux’s son-in-law Matthew Guthrie who, while employed in an offshore job, was simultaneously on the payroll for seven months (from April 2, 2012 to Nov. 9, 2012) as a $25 per hour “specialist” for the State Police Oil Spill Commission.
  • Danielle Rainwater, daughter of former Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater, who worked as a “specialist” for State Police.

And then there are the spouses brought into the fold.

  • Jason Starnes benefitted from two quick promotions from 2009 to 2014 as his salary jumped from $59,800 to $81,250, an increase. Three years later, he makes $150,750 an overall increase of 152 percent.
  • As if that were not enough, his then-wife Tammy was brought in from another agency as an Audit Manager at a salary of $92,900. Today, she makes $96.600. So not only did make nearly $11,700 a year more than her husband initially (until he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel), she also was in charge of monitoring the agency’s financial transactions, including those of her husband.
  • In January of 2008, just before Edmonson was named Superintendent of State Police by Gov. Bobby Jindal, State Trooper Charles Dupuy was pulling down $80,500. Today, the one-time Edmonson Chief of Staff makes $161,300, a bump of more than 100 percent.
  • Kelly McNamara and Dupuy, both troopers, met at work and eventually married and Kelly Dupuy’s star began ascending almost immediately. Her salary has gone from $65,000 in 2009 to $117,000 today
  • On Sept. 7, 2011, Mike Edmonson’s brother Paul was promoted from lieutenant to Captain, filling the spot previously held by Scott Reggio. On Oct. 10, 2013, Paul Edmonson was again promoted, this time to the rank of major. This time however, he was promoted into a spot in which there was no incumbent, indicating that the position was created especially for his benefit.
  • His rise has been nothing less than meteoric. Since December 2006, he has gone from the rank of sergeant to lieutenant to captain to major at warp speed and his pay rose accordingly, from $57,500 to $136,800 a year, a 138 percent increase—all under the watchful eye of his brother.

Doesn’t it give you a warm fuzzy to know that the good folks like Alario and Riser (who also, of course, voted for SCR 122) are looking out for us?

And isn’t it interesting, by the way, to know that Angele Davis, who tried to get Jill Boudreaux to repay her ill-gotten gains from her pseudo-early retirement, is pitted against Riser, who tried to sneak that illegal pension boost for Edmonson, in the upcoming election to succeed John Kennedy as State Treasurer?

As our late friend C.B. Forgotston would say if he were with us: You can’t make this stuff up.

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At the risk of an onset of “Troopergate Fatigue,” details keep emerging involving expensive TRIPS to conferences by members of former State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson’s inner circle on the taxpayers’ dime.

But while The Baton Rouge Advocate’s Jim Mustian was busy documenting yet another of those trips, this one to Orlando back in 2014, LouisianaVoice has learned that members of the Louisiana State Police Commission (LSPC) now recognize that they were apparently asleep at the wheel when they approved the creation of a Chief Accounting Officer (CAO) position last August at the behest of Edmonson.

Of course it didn’t hurt that Edmonson, described by virtually anyone who knows him as a slick snake oil salesman, was able to schmooze the somnolent commission into approving his request.

But the thing that is really tragic about the whole affair is that it led directly to the forced resignation of LSPC Executive Director Cathy Derbonne when she pointed out irregularities in the procedures employed to elevate Maj. Jason Starnes into the position.

Once she was onto the scam, she simply had to go.

Events were set in motion when Edmonson, getting the cart ahead of the proverbial horse, listed Starnes as “undersecretary” on the State Police Web page. Derbonne pointed out to the Edmonson that the designation of undersecretary was incorrect because Starnes did not occupy the position. In fact, the designation of undersecretary was not Edmonson’s to convey; that responsibility belongs exclusively to the governor.

Edmonson conceded that her assertion was correct but said that he had given Starnes “oversight” over the Office of Finance and that he “has assumed those duties in his current position.” From that moment on, Derbonne’s fate was sealed.

“What I’d like to do in this position is create an unclassified position just like we have with all the lieutenant colonels. We still hold and maintain a classified position of Major so that, if I brought (in) a lieutenant colonel and said, ‘We’re making a change,’ they can go back to that classified position.”

In his August appearance before the board to pitch the new position, Edmonson explained that he was asking to “create this temporary assignment. I am not increasing my T.O. (Table of Organization, i.e. actual permanent positions) I am not creating any additional funding issues…He’ll do that position within that rank. My desire is to create…a CAO because of how much work we do within our office.”

Edmonson then offered to address any questions commission members had. One of those, from Jared Caruso-Riecke, was about any additions funding necessary for the position. Edmonson assured Riecke there would be “no new funds. It was not my intention to even ask for that,” he said.

This is where things got dicey.

Commission member Eulis Simien seconded the motion for approval of the position “with the understanding that we are accepting the motion to create a position not relative to any particular person. Whatever appointment would be based on being after the position is created.”

Yet, only moments before, Edmonson had specifically committed the position to Starnes in a statement that apparently every single member of the commission managed to miss. Asked by Riecke about the duties of the position and whether they were “created somewhat by the board that you have now, Edmonson responded, “Correct. Jason Starnes will come in this position and assume the duties and oversight.”

To hear that commitment, go HERE and scroll to the 2:27 mark in his testimony.

Then, no sooner had Starnes been officially named to the new position than he was rewarded with a $25,000 increase that prompted former member Lloyd Grafton (he ultimately resigned from the commission after questioning its overall integrity) to challenge the pay increase because of the promise by Edmonson that no additional funds would be incurred—another tidbit missed by everyone but Grafton.

When a formal complaint was lodged over the transfer of a classified member of the State Police Service being transferred to an unclassified position outside the State Police Service (as with the Starnes assignment), a violation of Rule 14.3g, contract attorney Taylor Townsend (initially hired to investigate campaign contributions by members of the Louisiana State Troopers Association but whose duties were apparently expanded to that of general counsel) said that Starnes was not officially appointed to the undersecretary position. Townsend confirmed that only the governor, and not Edmonson, had the authority to fill the position of deputy superintendent.

When Townsend further explained that the commission’s August approval of the CAO position had rendered the investigation of the complaint moot, Riecke moved to go into executive session.

LouisianaVoice protested that an executive session on that matter was illegal because it was not to discuss pending litigation or an employee’s character but Townsend said the closed door session was to discuss personnel matters.

Louisiana’s Open Meetings Law (R.S. 42:16-17) provides that a public body may go into executive session if two-thirds of the members present vote to go into executive session. In executive session, public officials may only discuss a) the character, professional competence or physical or mental health of a person (unless the person is being considered for an appointment), b) strategy or negotiations regarding collective bargaining or future or current litigation, c) security personnel, plans or devices, d) investigative proceedings regarding alleged misconduct or e) an extraordinary emergency.

Because the discussion was not about the character, professional competence or physical or mental health of Starnes, nor was it about hiring him specifically, but instead was about whether or not the creation of the position itself was legal, LouisianaVoice maintained at the time and continues to hold that the executive session was illegal, Townsend’s professional legal opinion notwithstanding.

Predictably, upon emerging from the 25-minute closed-door confab, Riecke made the motion that no further action be taken on the investigation of the complaint.

Townsend, of course, the same attorney who recommended no action be taken on the LSTA campaign contributions matter. He also never submitted any report to the commission to support his recommendation.

Finally reacting to the constant prodding of retired State Trooper Leon “Bucky” Millet of Lake Arthur, the commission last Thursday decided to request that all of Townsend’s papers generated by his “investigation” be forwarded to the commission since his contract stipulates that all his findings would become the property of the commission.

But that was not the only voice of concern emerging from Thursday’s otherwise tranquil meeting.

It now seems that Simien is also now concerned over Edmonson’s apparent misleading statements to the commission last August regarding the Starnes appointment. Go HERE and scroll to the 2:07 mark to hear his comments.

All this because Derbonne had the temerity to do her job land point out to Edmonson that he had incorrectly and improperly designated Starnes as a lieutenant colonel on the State Police Web page.

We can somewhat understand why, given the political nature of LSP and the players involved, why Derbonne became the sacrificial lamb. She was the easiest to set up, the most vulnerable, and best of all, expendable, both in terms of the ease of getting rid of her and replacing her.

What we fail to understand is why two members of the commission then, with their own money, retained the services of a private investigator to follow her. This was apparently done, LouisianaVoice has learned, in an effort to determine who within LSP might be leaking information to her.

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By Robert Burns (Special to LouisianaVoice)

Audience members attending the regular monthly meeting of the Louisiana State Police Commission (LSPC) on Thursday could be forgiven for believing they were attending the wrong meeting. During brief recesses, many attendees were observed commenting about the lack of tension and anxiety that have been so prevalent in past meetings.

With the exception of one hostile exchange between board member Calvin Braxton and Chairman T. J. Doss, the meeting was devoid of the hostility which has dominated so many of its meetings over the last several years. That hostile exchange arose from item five of the meeting’s agenda, which called for retaining the promotional test scores for 2016, with them remaining valid for another year. At its previous meeting, the educational authorities explained that, because of significant changes in the content of the examination, everyone should be required to retest to qualify for a promotion.

Braxton’s frustration stemmed from his contention that he had the full and enthusiastic support of Chairman Doss right up to the point of the meeting, at which time Braxton claimed Doss “had a totally different story” and opposed his measure, thus “making me look stupid.” Doss countered in saying, “I’m one vote,” and then stated that Braxton’s memory of their conversations was “quite selective.” Braxton, clearly irked by that remark, said, “Well, I tell you what,” and then decided not to complete his sentence and concluded, “I’m done with it.” He then apologized to the audience and to the troopers.

Leon “Bucky” Millet, retired trooper, has long voiced his complaints entailing the Commission, and, at the request of board member Eulis Simien, Jr., Millet, a watchdog over the Commission who has intensified his oversight over the last two years, submitted all his complaints in writing. One of those complaints entailed Millet’s contention that a “conflict” exists regarding Chairman Doss, as an active trooper, simultaneously serving as Chairman of the Commission. Perhaps subscribing to the theory that the best defense is an aggressive offense, Chairman Doss stunned Millet, other board members, and the audience by voluntarily agreeing to forego any promotional testing (and thus any promotions) during the duration of his 3 ½ year term as Chairman. Millet acknowledged that would allay any concerns he had regarding any conflict.

Next, Commission Executive Director Jason Hannaman addressed Millet’s complaint regarding “prohibited political activity” entailing the law firm of Taylor, Porter by indicating that the complaint “appears without merit” because the law firm is not a member of the Commission and therefore not subject to the same restrictions as members are subjected. The Commission voted unanimously to accept Hannaman’s report on the matter.

Next, Hannaman addressed the Jason Starnes appointment. He tiptoed around the prospect that former LSP Colonel Mike Edmonson may have initially improperly appointed Starnes to a position, but he indicated that the action was corrected via Starnes’ appointment to another newly-created position (Chief Administrative Officer). Upon Hannaman concluding his report, member Eulis Simien, Jr. voiced displeasure with “the manner in which the approval for that position came about.” He specifically referenced him, along with other members, being under a clearly-false perception that the position would entail no increase in pay.

In reality, Starnes received a substantial increase in pay from the creation of the position. Millet then stated that Simien previously asked Edmondson if the position was being created for Jason Starnes, and that Edmonson “emphatically denied” that the position was being created for Starnes. Simien stated that his recollection of his question was “directed at a position and not for any particular person.” Millet acknowledged that may well be the case, but that, “in my wildest imagination, the position wouldn’t be created for anyone but Jason Starnes.” The Commission voted to accept Hannaman’s report with the caveat that “misleading information had been provided.” Members Monica Manzella and Harold Pierite, Sr. abstained based upon them not having been board members at the time the position was approved.

Next, Hannaman addressed nominations to fill Commission vacancies. Hannaman indicated proper procedures for notifying colleges of vacancies and requesting names of those colleges to fill those vacancies were followed until around 2008. Thereafter, Hammaman indicated the colleges “were not notified by the Executive Director of the LSPC” and that, therefore, “in turn, the colleges failed to send nominations to the governor to fill vacancies that occurred.” Hannaman indicated corrective action was taken on or around October 13, 2016 to require the executive director to notify colleges and universities going forward and further indicated that governor(s) had acted properly in that the Louisiana Constitution “provides that they shall make appointments if the colleges fail to make nominations.”

Millet stated past actions by governors were tantamount to “speeding but there was no speed limit sign.” Commissioners Jared Caruso-Riecke, echoing sentiments first espoused by Simien, said he, Simien, and Manzella were “appointed under the procedure being complained about” but emphasized that all of their appointments “were legal.” Riecke also added that no “legal burden” existed for the Commission to notify the colleges but it just did so as a practice but, going forward, since the Commission had implemented a rule to notify colleges, notices would go out going forward. Simien echoed those sentiments. Millet indicated he was satisfied with the Commission’s corrective actions.

Next, the issue of WAEs (when actually employed) employees was addressed. Ginger Krieg, Human Resources Manager for Louisiana Public Safety, emphasized that, in order to qualify for these positions, one must have graduated from the LSP Academy; however, Millet countered that he could supply names of WAE employees who aren’t such graduates and referenced one “making $80,000 a year for coming in a day or two a week.” The Commission committed to having a full list of WAE employees for the next meeting, after which time the Commission will decide which positions for which it will seek job descriptions and duties for those employees.

The Commission also discussed records retention and the potential requirement for a written investigative report by former Commission legal counsel Taylor Townsend. The Commission committed to send Townsend a written request that all Commission files be returned, and it also instructed legal counsel Lenore Feeney to research whether Townsend was in fact required to issue a written report of his findings (she indicated she felt a written report was indeed required).

Also discussed was Millet’s complaints entailing malfeasance in office and payroll fraud. Chairman Doss indicated that matters such as that must be investigated by the appropriate law enforcement authorities and not by the Commission. Millet was accepting of that statement.

Audience members openly discussed why the Commission’s meeting today differed so markedly from those of the recent past in terms of transparency and tranquility. One frequent attendee indicated she felt the Commission had little choice because it had been “pressured” into changing by blog and newspaper exposure. Another regular attendee referenced the prospect that the absence of the overbearing shadow of former Col. Mike Edmonson resulted in Commission members, employees, and others feeling far more relaxed. Perhaps the best question to ask regarding the stunning improvement in meeting atmosphere is “does it really matter what brought it about?”

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Louisiana State Police (LSP) captains were called in to headquarters in Baton Rouge on Monday to hear the news that had already leaked out across the state that Superintendent Mike Edmonson was stepping down but officially, the head of LSP’s public information office said he knew nothing of reports that he said were “above my pay grade.”

But truth be told, after the way LouisianaVoice has latched onto the sorry story at LSP, had I been in Doug Cain’s position, I probably would’ve done the same thing. I hold no ill will toward him because he was in an unenviable position. On the one hand, his job is to inform the public but on the other, he had a boss to whom he answered. I’m old enough to grasp the realities of the situation.

That boss, while defiantly denying he would resign as late as last Friday when LouisianaVoice first said he was on his way out (and we did say it first), ended his 36-year career at State Police with a whimper today with his announcement that he would resign his position as the longest-tenured superintendent in LSP history.

Today’s online edition of the Baton Rouge Advocate carried the STORY of Edmonson’s announced retirement and in so doing, tied his decision to the “widening controversy” surrounding that San Diego trip taken by Edmonson and 15 subordinates to see him receive a national award.

But that trip, including the side trip taken to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon by four troopers in a state vehicle en route to San Diego, is not the story of what is really wrong at LSP. As one veteran observer of law enforcement noted, the San Diego trip is a mere symptom of a much larger problem festering in the bowels of State Police headquarters. It was never the story.

This was a story of a State Police Superintendent who once told a group of sheriffs at a roundtable meeting at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Baton Rouge that when it came to choosing between State Police and the sheriffs, his loyalty was with the sheriffs.

There are the ever-persistent rumors of parties, too many parties being held in conjunction with official functions. They simply did not coalesce with what the image of law enforcement is supposed to be about.

There are reports, growing in number even as this is being written, of junkets to New York in private jets paid for by a police uniform vendor, to the Washington Mardi Gras celebration paid for by a local contractor, to Cancun on the private jet of a north Louisiana supporter, and of trips to gaming conferences in the company of the owner of video poker machines (Edmonson is ex-officio member of the State Gaming Commission).

There were seemingly endless reports documented and posted by LouisianaVoice of inconsistent discipline of State Troopers, depending on whether or not the trooper was in the inner circle of the Edmonson clique.

A trooper with multiple prescriptions for a controlled narcotic, instead of being disciplined for showing up to work impaired, was promoted and made commander of Troop D in Lake Charles.

A married lieutenant who, along with a few buddies and a couple of single female “bartenders,” took a borrowed limo to a Vicksburg casino. At the casino, he took one of the girls, who was underage, onto the floor of the casino to play blackjack. He was apprehended by Mississippi gaming officials and tried to negotiate his way out of the situation by proclaiming he was a Louisiana State Police lieutenant and “can’t we work something out?” He was fined $600 by Mississippi officials and promoted to commander of Troop F by Edmonson.

A trooper who twice had sex with a female while on duty (once in his patrol car, no less), was barely disciplined at all.

Troopers at Troop D were given days off for making a minimum number of DWI arrests, no matter if the driver was actually drinking. Just make the arrest and let the district attorney dismiss the case—you’ll still get credit for the stop—that was the unwritten policy.

Another trooper at Troop D owned a daytime construction company. So, instead of working a full shift at night, he would work a couple of hours and then go home to sleep the rest of the night so he could work his private job during the day. This was allowed to go on for an extended period of time until LouisianaVoice revealed what was taking place.

Department of Public Safety (DPS) Undersecretary Jill Boudreaux was allowed to take a buyout for early retirement but stayed retired only a single day before coming back with a promotion and about $55,000 in early buyout money which she was ordered to return—but did not. https://louisianavoice.com/2014/08/24/edmonson-not-the-first-in-dps-to-try-state-ripoff-subterfuge-undersecretary-retiresre-hires-keeps-46k-incentive-payout/

When she finally retired for good, Edmonson, appearing before a compliant State Police Commission stacked with his supporters, pushed through the creation of a new lieutenant colonel position to take over her duties. In pitching the position, he told the commission that it would create no additional cost and that it was not being designed specifically for Maj. Jason Starnes.

Guess what? Starnes got the job, the promotion, and a $25,000 raise. Now he administers Management and Finance for LSP despite having no accounting degree or background. When member Lloyd Grafton asked about Edmonson’s promise of no additional expense, no one on the commission seemed to remember.

It was Grafton who first used the term “money laundering” when discussing how the Louisiana State Troopers Association (LSTA) funneled LSTA funds through the personal checking account of its executive director David Young so that political contributions could be made to key political candidates. Young subsequently submitted expense reports for reimbursement of the campaign contributions. Grafton should know a little about money laundering: he is a retired ATF agent.

The LSTA did refuse Edmonson’s request that the association pen a letter to Governor-elect John Bel Edwards recommending that Edmonson be reappointed superintendent. Edwards reappointed him anyway.

And, going back to 2014, there was that surreptitious amendment inserted onto an otherwise benign bill in the closing minutes of the regular legislative session. State Sen. Neil Riser (R-Columbia) did the honors in introducing the amendment. Passed overwhelmingly over the promise that it would have no financial impact on the state budget, it instantly awarded Edmonson a healthy bump in retirement income.

Edmonson had, years earlier, entered what was referred to as DROP, a special retirement plan that was said to be “irrevocable” which at the time locked in his retirement at about $76,000. At the time the amendment was approved, it would have meant an additional $55,000 to his retirement but with the recent pay increases pushing his salary to its current level of $177,400, it would have meant a retirement increase of a whopping $101,000.

LouisianaVoice was notified of the amendment via an anonymous letter. That was when Mike Edmonson first appeared on our radar.

Then State Rep. John Bel Edwards, who unwittingly voted for the amendment, subsequently called for House Speaker Chuck Kleckley to investigate the maneuver but the invertebrate Kleckley refused.

State Sen. Dan Claitor (R-Baton Rouge) then filed suit in 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge and a district court judge struck down the amendment.

Edmonson, true to form, at first denied any knowledge of the amendment but later admitted that one of “his people” came up with the idea and he gave the approval.

That was pretty much in line with the blaming of his secretary for using a signature stamp to approve overtime pay for that San Diego trip and his decision to throw the four who drove to San Diego under the bus for taking an unauthorized detour—even though it has since been learned by LouisianaVoice that he knew the route the four were taking and was in touch by text and phone the entire trip.

That’s the Edmonson persona. He has consistently shirked responsibility for actions that could cast him in a bad light and basked in the glow when things went well. He even is said to have told a retiring trooper—a veteran of two tours in the Mideast wars, no less—that he was a coward and a disgrace to his uniform in a late-night telephone conversation.

While other media have only recently joined in the investigation of LSP and Edmonson (and make no mistake, it was heartening to see them doing solid investigative work), LouisianaVoice has been there all along. This was not a sprint to LouisianaVoice, it was a marathon. And if this sounds a little vain and boastful…well, it is.

And it isn’t over. LouisianaVoice has pending numerous public records requests with LSP on other matters within the agency. We do not intend to let Edmonson’s resignation diminish our ongoing examination of why one man was allowed to bring a great department into such disrepute and disgrace.

The rank and file Louisiana State Troopers deserve better.

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