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A second development in what I thought was an issue laid to rest with the resignation of Mike Edmonson cropped up today just hours after the Louisiana Board of “Ethics” (that word should always be in quotes when talking about Louisiana political “ethics”) whitewashed its investigation of Edmonson and the infamous San Diego road trip and his overall management of Louisiana State Police (see post of earlier today).

Right on the heels of that story was the unconfirmed report from a usually solid source that State Sen. Neil Riser is being considered to succeed David Young as executive director of the LOUISIANA STATE TROOPERS ASSOCIATION.

Young, who retired, effective last month, is the one who laundered campaign contributions from the LSTA through his personal checking account in order that the LTSA might circumvent state civil service laws prohibiting classified employees from active involvement in political campaigns, including, of course, campaign contributions.

Young would ultimately enter into a CONSENT AGREEMENT with the Louisiana Board of “Ethics” in which he admitted to making $17,500 in contributions to various political candidates for which the LTSA later reimbursed him.

Riser, a Republican senator from Columbia who failed in a bid for the U.S. House of Representatives in a 2013 special election, is the one who tacked on an amendment onto Senate Bill 294, an otherwise innocuous bill dealing with procedures for formal, written complaints made against police officers. That amendment, slipped in on the closing hours of the 2014 legislative session, would have given Edmonson a generous increase in his pension that otherwise he would not have been entitled to. Riser at first denied but later ADMITTED that he was behind the amendment and days after he did so, posed for a photograph with Edmonson.

Edmonson and Riser

Riser, who owns two funeral homes in Columbia, again failed in his bid to succeed former U.S. Sen. John Kennedy in another special election in 2017 to fill Kennedy’s vacated State Treasurer’s position. He is term-limited in his current state senate position and is a man potentially without a job in politics, so it stands to reason that he would be looking to maintain an influential presence in Baton Rouge.

Such is the intoxicating nature of politics that some egos simply cannot walk away from it.

LouisianaVoice was first to break that STORY about the amendment boosting Edmonson’s pension on July 11, 2014, after receiving an anonymous tip and that story generated immediate and near-unanimous opposition. State Sen. Dan Claitor (R-Baton Rouge) was successful in filing a lawsuit in Baton Rouge district court to block the pension increase.

Young, contacted Thursday by LouisianaVoice, said he had had no contact with the association since his retirement and that he knew nothing of Riser’s pending appointment to head the LSTA.

Attempts were made to reach Association President Jay O’quinn for confirmation but he didn’t answer his cell phone.

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I hadn’t visited John Wayne Culpepper’s Lip-Smackin’ Bar-B-Que Hut, House of Prayer, Used Light bulb Emporium and Snake Farm up in Watson for quite a while, but I found myself in need of a little counseling from Harley Purvis, so I dropped by earlier this morning.

Harley, in case you don’t remember, is my longtime friend who also just happens to be president of the Greater Livingston Parish All-American Redneck Male Chauvinist Spittin’, Belchin’, and Cussin’ Society and Literary Club (LPAARMCSBCSLC).

I was in a foul mood as I approached him where he was seated in his customary spot in the booth in the back in the corner in the dark (apologies to the late Flip Wilson) and my mood was not lightened at the sight of a stranger already seated across from my friend and mentor. Harley spotted me and waved me over. “Have a seat. I want you to meet someone.” So, I slid into the booth next to Harley.

“This here’s Jimbo ‘Snake Eyes’ Hampton,” Harley said by way of introduction. We shook hands as the waitress pored me a cup of coffee. I shook hands with him while simultaneously ordering scrambled eggs, country ham and toast.

“What brings you in today?” Harley asked. He knew I rarely came to see him unless I was upset about something.

“Did you see the news last night?” I asked.

“Yep,” he answered. “And I figure you’re pissed that the state ethics board cleared Mike Edmonson of any wrongdoing. That about it?”

“Mostly confused and yes, a little angry,” I replied.

Edmonson’s attorney Gray Sexton, who once headed the Louisiana Ethics Board but who now represents clients before that same board, had told a Baton Rouge television station that his client, the former State Police Superintendent, had been cleared of all wrongdoing and that other agencies investigating Edmonson were dropping their investigations, as well.

“I don’t understand how that could be,” I said. The investigation centered around that trip to San Diego back in 2016 when four troopers drove a state police SUV there, taking side trips to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon along the way, while charging for overtime they didn’t work. “Back in April 2018, the same ethics board cleared—in secret, I might add—the troopers of any wrongdoing, saying that they were just following orders and had done so with the approval of Edmonson (see that story HERE). But now the board has cleared Edmonson, as well (see that story HERE).

Harley smiled, took a swig of his black coffee and said, “Son, don’t you know that the state police has a whole fleet of them self-drivin’ SUVs? That vehicle obviously drove itself out to San Diego and decided all on its own to take a side trip to Vegas and the Grand Canyon.”

He and Snake Eyes giggled in unison, apparently finding Harley’s explanation amusing. I just looked at both of them. Harley continued, “And them four troopers? Hell, they was hostages an’ couldn’t get outta that vehicle until it stopped at the expensive hotel where they stayed on the trip.” More giggles.

“Well, first of all, I don’t like the ides of Sexton being able to represent clients before the board he once headed,” I said. “He even referred to ‘unsubstantiated’ reports by the media and I can substantiate every single thing I wrote about him. Sexton’s full of crap. And even the state auditor found Edmonson had committed all kinds of violations of state policy.”

LSP AUDIT

AUDIT FINDINGS

“You know as well as I that’s the way they game the system,” Harley explained. “Prosecuting attorneys turn up as criminal defense attorneys and Sexton represents clients before his old board. Judges in cases brought against doctors by the medical board accept campaign contributions from the prosecuting attorneys for the board. Public Service Commission members take contributions from industries they regulate. Same thing for the insurance commissioner getting contributions from insurance companies.”

“But how can the ethics board clear the four troopers AND Edmonson 16 months later? It would seem that somebody would have to fall on their sword.”

“You know the system don’t work that way. They protect theyselves. That’s why they waited 16 months; they figured you’d forget they cleared the troopers after that much time. You think justice is even-handed? Look at ol’ Snake Eyes here. He just got out of prison. Know what he was in for? Tell him, Snake.”

Snake Eyes, a 47-year-old black man, grinned and said, “I was caught with less than three grams of weed. They gave me 13 years but it was reduced to eight years.” (Full disclosure: Snake Eyes is a pseudonym but his story is based on a real person from New Orleans.)

Harley leaned forward and added, “Louisiana ain’t the only place this kind of crap goes on. Remember that case in New Jersey where the judge refused to try a teenage rapist as an adult because he was a Eagle Scout, had good college entry scores and came from a GOOD FAMILY? That Eagle Scout not only raped a girl, but he filmed it and sent the video to his friends.

“And look at Jeffrey Epstein. Back in 2008, he was charged with having sex with underage girls and he got a nice plea deal that gave him 13 months in jail, only he was able to go to his office every day during those 13 months and just stayed in his jail cell at night. And the prosecutor who gave him that deal became Trump’s secretary of labor. An’ Ol’ Snake Eyes here gets eight years for a little pot.

“Then there’s that dentist at the LSU School of Dentistry who blew the whistle on the jaw implants bein’ a health hazard. Did they thank him? Hell, no, they revoked his license and ruined him financially, drove him outta the state, ‘cause he cost LSU money. Problem is, LSU lost more money on the lawsuits from the faulty implants. Same thing for Ivor van Heerden who criticized the Corps of Engineers following Katrina. He posed a threat to LSU federal grants from the Corps, so they run him off, just like they did Steven Hatfill who the FBI named as a person of interest in those anthrax letters even though he had nothing to do with them.

“Here’s another fine example of American justice at its best: The chief deputy of th’ Pima County, Arizona Sheriff’s Department pleaded guilty to laundering half-a-million dollars in RICO funds and got one year’s probation, a $3,000 fine and 100 hours of community service. Half-a-million dollars! And he never spent a day in jail while Snake here gets eight years for a coupla joints wortha weed.”

I started to speak, but he held up his hand. “A Oklahoma woman sold $31 wortha pot and got a 12-year prison sentence. Over in Mississippi, a man wanted the land his neighbors owned, so he instigated charges against the entire family after their son was caught cultivating marijuana on the man’s land. Police tore up their home, seized all the money they had, including the children’s piggy banks and a 90-year-old relative’s social security check. A year later, they raided the home again, arresting the entire family. The daddy got 26 years, the mama got 24 years and all four children received sentences of three to 15 years.

“The LSU fraternity members who were implicated in the binge drinking death of Max Gruver, meanwhile, got 30 DAYS in jail. They had the same lawyer who got Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal off after Ackal had several prisoners die in his custody. But Snake here gets eight years an’ he ain’t hurt nobody.

“And did you know that in Louisiana, if you steal a cell phone, you can get up to six months in jail but if you unknowingly buy a stolen cell phone, you could get up to 10 years for possessing stolen property?”

Harley and Snake Eyes exchanged knowing glances before Harley spoke again. “Son, you set the bar way too high for guvmental ethics. But the sad part is Louisiana ain’t unique. We’re actually pretty typical across the board.

“Jes’ remember the real Golden Rule: Them what has the gold makes the rules. An’ that goes double for the Louisiana so-called ‘Ethics’ Board.”

Or you can send a check for $30 to:

Tom Aswell

P.O. Box 922

Denham Springs, LA. 70727

Jeffrey Epstein is dead, a suicide.

It should have never happened.

He previously had attempted suicide in his jail cell and had been placed on suicide watch.

Why was he taken off that watch? That’s the question someone is going to have to answer.

No matter what ultimate facts surface in answer to that question, one thing is for certain and you can bet the farm on it: the conspiracy theorists are going to be swarming like a fire ant bed run over by a lawn mower.

In fact, they already are with none other than Donald J. Trump front and center with his TWEETS implicating the Clintons. Another contributor to what is certain to become a cottage industry, Lynn Patton, who works for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, tweeted that Epstein had been “Hillary’d!!”

Of course, it’s common knowledge that Epstein and Bill Clinton were pals. Bill even flew in Epstein’s private jet. There’s no escaping that fact and no one is denying it.

Trump’s more rabid supporters, however, will pounce on this fact as some kind of validation of their theory that the Clintons had Epstein murdered and they will cling to that absurdity to the bitter end while at the same time dismissing credible reports from U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia did in fact intervene in the 2016 election, that it was all a “hoax,” “fake news.”

They will trumpet the Clinton “conspiracy” to eliminate Epstein while continuing to deny any possibility of Trump collusion with Russia or of any obstruction of justice on their hero’s part.

They will also overlook all the connections between Epstein and Trump first revealed HERE three years ago and AGAIN just last month.

If Trump’s supporters want a conspiracy theory, they may wish to review the Jeffrey Epstein-Alexander Acosta-Steven Hoffenberg-Donald Trump connection in an effort to untangle that little knot.

It was Acosta, you may remember, who was the Miami U.S. attorney who engineered that nifty little plea bargain for Epstein in 2008 in which the pedophile received a sentence of only 13 months in jail for running his underage sex ring but was allowed to leave the jail each day to go to his office to work while spending only his nights in the jail cell.

And it was Trump who plucked Acosta to be his secretary of labor until Acosta resigned when the heat became a little too intense.

And Hoffenberg? He was Epstein’s partner in a gigantic Ponzi scheme (the biggest on record until Bernie Madoff came along) and it was Hoffenberg who, after getting out of prison for that escapade, established a super PAC in 2016 and pledged $50 million of his own money on behalf of candidate….Trump.

In fact, the one common thread in all of this appears to be….Donald Trump.

Yet it was Hillary, the conspiracy nuts said, who ran a pedophile sex ring out of a Washington pizza parlor. This is the mentality we’re dealing with here.

With all these Epstein connections firmly established in the record—not a conspiracy—it seems rather curious that Trump would wade in with his tweets pushing a Clinton conspiracy in Epstein’s death. It might seem to make sense that Trump would prefer to back away from the whole sordid mess and try to let it blow over.

But that’s not his way because rationale has never been his strong suit.

So, if it’s conspiracies one wants, there seems to be plenty to go around with these four men’s association with each other.

But my guess is the newest Clinton conspiracy will “trump” those.

A dear friend says that Donald Trump is “100% responsible” for the latest shootings in El Paso and Dayton.

It’s difficult to disagree with him.

Yes, we had mass shootings before Trump: Columbine, Sandy Hook, Aurora, Colorado come to mind.

But they were random acts aimed at everyone in general and no one in particular.

But now we have the Pulse shooting in Orlando, the African-American church shooting in Charleston, S.C., Charlottesville, Virginia, among others, that were directed at specific groups: gays, blacks, and Hispanics. There were even pipe bombs sent to Trump critics.

Yes, there are still random mass shootings, like the one in Las Vegas, but a disturbing trend seems to be toward white nationalists trying to take out as many minorities as possible in the shortest time possible.

As another friend observed, assault weapons are more efficient than nooses with these monsters.

I’ve said my piece about taking these assault weapons out of circulation, so I won’t belabor the point. But these mentally deranged people are taking their cue from the top—and that’s Trump. His rhetoric, from ridiculing a physically handicapped reporter in 2016, to belittling women, to encouraging crowds to rough up protesters and leading them in chants encouraging violence.

That has to stop. Trump doesn’t seem to understand that words and actions, especially those of POTUS, have consequences—or he just doesn’t care.

First of all, that kind of nonsense should be beneath the dignity of the president. His stooping to such levels gives him the appearance of a fourth-grade bully taunting other kids on the playground. That is not what this country needs, though you wouldn’t know it from his base.

I’ve been accused of having some affliction called “Trump Derangement Syndrome,” but those women, I will suggest emphatically, do not represent the country I grew up in and sadly, neither does our president.

How is it that we could come to this land, inflict genocide an entire civilization already living here and assume that it’s somehow our land by wearing something so flagrantly racist?

Another friend forward the following to me:

When you speak of Trump Derangement Syndrome, are you referring to his supporters or to his critics?

OK, so who’s deranged…..the people speaking out against hate speech and racism—or those who are defending it?

Who’s deranged……the people stuffing children into overcrowded cages—or those who are exposing it?

Who’s deranged……the people who expose the president’s lies everyday—or those who make excuses for it?

Who’s deranged……the people who are investigating Russian interference in our election—or those who call it a witch hunt?

Who’s deranged…..the people who recognize the importance of dealing with climate change—or those who call it a hoax?

Who’s deranged……those who honor our war heroes and POWs—or those who prefer soldiers who weren’t captured?

Who’s deranged…..those who believe that a businessman who built his fortune by cheating working people, lost a billion dollars in ten years and never performed even one day of public service has their best interests in mind—or those who see a con-man?

OK, it’s up to you. Who’s deranged?

(I’m informed the image of the women wearing “Make America White Again” T-shirts was photo-shopped and not authentic. Accordingly, I have removed it—with apologies.)

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