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It was a possibility almost too bizarre an idea to entertain.

It was just too weird to even consider.

The evidence was right there, however, for all to see and the conclusion was inescapable.

Mike Edmonson, erstwhile Superintendent of the Louisiana State Police (LSP) and once the most powerful law enforcement official in the state, had outed himself.

It’s not as if he had not been disgraced enough already. From the ill-fated but almost successful attempt to pad his own retirement in defiance of existing state regulations to that astonishingly ill-fated San Diego misadventure—with at least a dozen ugly stories of mismanagement, questionable promotions, and assorted rumors squeezed in between—would bring an ordinary man to disgrace.

But to leak a state audit that turned a glaring light on his propensity to use his position for personal financial gain and which may have left him exposed to major IRS penalties and even prosecution is the latest in a long line of of incredibly poor decisions that leaves observers a little incredulous.

Yet, that’s exactly what happened. Mike Edmonson—or someone acting on his behalf—leaked a copy of that devastating audit to the Baton Rouge Advocate and/or New Orleans television station WWL, which identifies itself as a news partner of the Advocate.

Do the math. There were only two copies of the audit. One went to LSP. The other was sent to Edmonson. The one provided Edmonson included a cover letter addressed to him. The one received by LSP did not contain that cover letter. That pretty much narrows the origin of the leak to a single source—Edmonson himself.

And when you watch the WWL report, 40 seconds into the VIDEO there is a shot of that cover letter dated Nov. 28 and addressed to “Dear Colonel Edmonson.”

Oops.

Pause the video at that spot and you can see for yourself that the first two paragraphs of that letter read:

“Enclosed please find a draft of our investigative audit report regarding the Department of Public Safety and Corrections – Public Safety Services – Office of State Police. Draft reports are not public documents and should be maintained in a confidential manner until the final report is officially released by the Legislative Auditor (Emphasis ours).

“At this time, we are asking you to provide any information you may have which may affect the findings contained in the draft report. Any information deemed material will be included in the final report. If you choose to respond, please respond no later than noon on December 12, 2017. Your written response will be included as part of the final report.”

Edmonson, as has been typical of him all along, again reacted as the aggrieved victim. He texted Advocate reporter Jim Mustian in advance of Friday’s publication of the audit’s findings to complain that if he (Mustian) published the audit’s contents prior to the release of the final report “you will be negating my legal right to review. The process is for me to respond back to them first, not the media. Whoever furnished you with the report did so without the approval of the auditor’s office,” he said.

It is important to parse his words here. When he said whoever furnished the report did so “without the approval of the auditor’s office,” notice he did not say it was without his approval. But the most important passage was “you will be negating my legal right to review.” (Emphasis ours)

That’s key. By first leaking the document and then, after Mustian contacted him for a comment before publication, following up with that email, Edmonson could have been setting the stage for his legal strategy. He will no doubt lawyer up if he has not done so already. And you can expect his legal counsel to claim that he was:

  • ratted out by disgruntled former subordinates;
  • treated unfairly by reporters and bloggers;
  • tried in the court of public opinion before he ever had a chance to defend himself from the ravenous wolves.

He will likely claim the premature release of the audit has placed him at an unfair disadvantage from which it will all but impossible for him recover.

And you can bet he did not leak the audit directly, but through a third party. Or if he did leak it directly, it was via a fictitious email account that could not be traced back to him. One person who knows Edmonson said he suspects it was by an email account set up under an alias. “Or it may have been done by an attorney,” though, he said he would first start “with Mike.”

The same person said he did not think Edmonson was smart enough to attempt a preemptive strike to gain a legal edge by claiming his defense was tainted by the premature release.

He said he audit report, while likely reflecting most adversely on Edmonson, probably includes other findings against the entire department which may have led Edmonson to believe the focus would be on the broader agency issues. “If that’s the reason, it was a huge miscalculation,” he said. “In fact, whatever his motive, it was a huge error. The audit is damning in its detail.

“And when I was watching WWL, I saw the closeup with his name on the cover letter. There was the smoking gun.”

 

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First of all, let’s give credit where it’s due: Baton Rouge Advocate reporter Jim Mustian pulled off a major coup in securing and publishing the FINDINGS of the Legislative Auditor’s preliminary report of its audit of Louisiana State Police (LSP). The fact that the document is a draft and not the final document in no way diminishes the importance of the findings nor does it really matter how Mustian obtained it—except perhaps to Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera.

Former State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson, who was subjected to withering criticism in the report, is livid that it was leaked before he had an opportunity to respond to its findings. He texted Mustian to say that by reporting the audit’s contents, “you will be negating my legal right to review. The process is for me to respond back to them first, not the media. Whoever furnished you with the report did so without the approval of the auditor’s office,” he said.

Purpera told LouisianaVoice that he is confident the leak did not come from his office because he tracks who has access to reports prior to their release. That would appear to narrow the premature release to someone within LSP. But appearances are misleading.

As the officials say during those college and NFL football games, upon further review, a WWL-TV newscast about the audit Friday may have inadvertently revealed the real source of the leak. If you go to the 40-second spot on this VIDEO, you will see a screenshot of the auditor’s Nov. 28 cover letter to….Edmonson. The only other audit copy went to LSP but that one did not contain the cover letter to the former superintendent.

That can mean only one thing: The audit report was leaked by none other than Edmonson himself—or by someone to whom he provided a copy of the report.

So, it would seem that his anger over the premature release of the audit is somewhat misplaced.

And the fact remains that had Edmonson not gamed the system to his and his family’s advantage, there would be no reason for him to find it necessary to exercise his “legal right to review.”

Edmonson, who many rank-and-file troopers refer to as “Precious,” said he was preparing a detailed response to the “lengthy” report and that he looked forward to “answering any questions after the release of the final report.” We can’t wait.

Rafael Goyeneche, president of the Metropolitan Crime Commission, a New Orleans watchdog group that monitors public wrongdoing, said the audit showed Edmonson to be “less the colonel of the State Police and more the Boss Hog of the State Police,” a reference to the popular TV series that ran from 1979 to 1985. He said the audit signaled “a day of celebration” for rank-and-file troopers who were aware of what Edmonson was doing to the organization and of his “self-serving decisions.”

Meanwhile, details that have come out of LSP headquarters about the manner in which Edmonson mixed personal and departmental business, accepted free hotel rooms and other services, and generally ran the department like his own fiefdom has gotten the attention of the feds.

“The Louisiana State Police has been and continues to coordinate efforts with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding this matter,” said Maj. Doug Cain, a State Police spokesman, in a statement to The Advocate and to LouisianaVoice.

U.S. Attorney Corey Amundson, of the Middle District of Louisiana, confirmed that his office “has been and will continue coordinating with State Police,” Mustian reported.

LSP Public Affairs Officer Lt. J.B. Slaton also said, “We continue to cooperate with the Legislative Auditor’s office. The department is currently formulating our response to the findings and recommendations of the audit. That response will be included in the final report and disseminated by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor.” He said any further comment “would be premature and interfere with the Legislative Auditor’s standard procedures and directives to the department.”

So, what, exactly, does that audit report say?

Well, here are a few of the low points taken from Mustian’s story:

  • He used a state credit card to purchase more than $7,000 in special meals without approval from the Division of Administration and without sufficient documentation to show their business purpose.
  • He moved his family into the Department of Public Safety (DPS) compound “without legal authority” to do so, allowing taxpayers to pick up the cost of his utilities, including cable TV and electricity. Its formal name is the Residential Conference Center. It was constructed in 2002 and intended only to house the governor and State Police superintendent during emergencies such as hurricanes.
  • He did not include his use of the residence, valued at nearly $435,000, as a fringe benefit on his federal form W-2 during the time he and his family resided there, from February 2008 (right after his appointment by Bobby Jindal) to March 2017 when he retired under fire from the now notorious San Diego TRIP. Auditors feel he should have paid taxes on the benefit but are uncertain if he did. Perhaps that’s one of the questions he will answer.
  • He made a practice of requiring state troopers to transport his wife to various places: bar-hopping in New Orleans, gambling in Lake Charles, to the Baton Rouge airport, or to take his wife, mother-in-law and a friend to and from a Bob Seger concert in Lafayette. On one such occasion, troopers said they were ordered to escort Mrs. Edmonson and a friend to the French Quarter while they were wearing costumes that may have included parts of the LSP uniform.
  • He procured complimentary hotel rooms in New Orleans for friends and family and even received improper reimbursement for them. He allowed friends and family to stay in extra hotel rooms that were paid for by the city of New Orleans and which were intended for troopers working Mardi Gras detail. He would receive multiple rooms in his name or the names of other troopers, the report said. He also received reimbursement from State Police for a hotel room in 2014 even though the city of New Orleans had reserved a room for him in a different hotel. In February 2015, he allowed two friends to stay in a Windsor Court suite that was intended for troopers. He admitted inviting the friends but said he thought they paid for the room. A friend of Edmonson’s said Edmonson booked rooms for him and his wife at Windsor Court on numerous occasions but that they did not know they were paid for by the city of New Orleans. In 2016, Edmonson obtained another room and Loews New Orleans Hotel for his stepdaughter and her friend that was intended for a trooper. Edmonson claimed it was an “extra room” that had been taken out of service because the air conditioner was broken.
  • He annually received free tickets to the Endymion Mardi Gras Extravaganza. State law prohibits public servants from accepting anything of economic value as a gift or gratuity from any person or organization who has or is seeking contractual or other business or financial relationships with that public servant’s agency. Endymion paid LSP nearly $400,000 from 2013 to 2017 for security details.
  • He received more than $6,300 between January 2014 and March 2017 as a daily allowance from LSP to pay for cleaning his uniform. Yet he used the dry-cleaning service at the Governor’s Mansion to clean his uniform and other clothing for free.
  • He consistently failed to pay for his meals at the State Police cafeteria. While he told auditors it was possible during his tenure that he walked out of the cafeteria without paying for his coffee, the cafeteria manager said he failed to pay for his meals at least half the time.
  • He ordered inmates to deliver food to his residence, used state resources to service his son’s jeep and his wife’s vehicle, and had prisoners cook, clean, and walk the family dog.

Those were some of the specifics. In general terms, the audit painted a portrait of a freeloader who was not above taking every handout that came his way, Mustian said.

Basically, most of the points covered are things the media knew—or at least suspected— Edmonson was doing all along, so the audit’s criticisms are really nothing new at all.

One LouisianaVoice reader wrote on Facebook, “Karma is such a good thing.”

Some have a different word for it.

The long-anticipated Louisiana State Police (LSP) REPORT on the infamous trip to San Diego by way of the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas and Hoover Dam in a state vehicle by four state troopers is finally out and it does not bode well for the four or former State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson.

The report says “there is sufficient evidence to prove a procedural or criminal violation” against Lt. Rodney Hyatt, Maj. Derrell Williams and troopers Thurman Miller and Alexandr Nezgodinsky. Hyatt and Williams have since been demoted to sergeant and lieutenant, respectively. 

(CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE)

But the most damning revelation of the 332-page report is contained in a single paragraph in which Hyatt described to State Police investigators how Edmonson last March 14 took his (Hyatt’s) state-issue cellphone and deleted all text messages older than 30 days.

That paragraph says:

“…Investigators requested Lt. Hyatt provide his personal cellphone records from October 10-20, 2016, and he complied…Lt. Hyatt informed investigators that on March 14, 2017, he attended a Louisiana Trooper Foundation meeting. Colonel Edmonson was present and informed him he (Edmonson) was retiring. According to Lt. Hyatt, Colonel Edmonson mentioned to him that text messages would stay on his cellphone forever and said he (Edmonson) would show him (Hyatt). Lt. Hyatt said Colonel Edmonson took his cellphone and went to the settings feature and manipulated the settings to delete any texts/messages older than 30 days. Lt. Hyatt explained the settings feature was set to keep texts/messages forever before Colonel Edmonson changed it. Therefore, he had no texts/messages on his cellphone from 2016.” 

The Internal Affairs investigation was ordered by Edmonson himself and it was initiated on Feb. 22—nearly a month before Edmonson deleted the text messages from Hyatt’s state cellphone. If true, that would mean that Edmonson knowingly destroyed evidence in an ongoing investigation.

That would be particularly egregious in light of the contents of two other documents contained in the report obtained Thursday by LouisianaVoice.

The first, dated Feb. 24, is one of four identical letters sent to Hyatt, Williams, Miller and Nezgodinsky which cites LSP regulation 209(7)(i): “Internal Affairs Investigators or Designated Administrative Investigators shall receive the full cooperation of any employee of the Department of Public Safety and Corrections, Public Safety Services, during the course of an administrative investigation.” (Emphasis theirs.)

The other is also a duplicate given each of the four under Edmonson’s name and title which says:

“As a direct representative of the appointing authority, I hereby order you to answer all questions truthfully, completely and unevasively.

“You should understand that by refusing to obey this order, even at the advice of counsel, you can be disciplined for insubordination. The punishment for insubordination can be up to and including termination of employment.” (Emphasis mine.)

What makes those to passages especially significant, besides Edmonson’s alleged destruction of evidence during an ongoing investigation, is his own refusal to cooperate with investigators two months into the investigation and about a month after his retirement.

He sat for one informal interview during which he acknowledged speaking with Hyatt before their departure and that their discussion included the so-called “northern” route that would take the four on their side trip. But he said he never approved the group to claim time for expenses related to their travel and lodging.

“On April 18, 2017,” the report says, “investigators asked Colonel Edmonson by telephone if he would be willing to provide a formal statement pertaining to the ongoing investigation. Colonel Edmonson state he didn’t have any additional information to add to what he had informally mentioned prior to his retirement.

“On May 11, 2017, investigators emailed Colonel Edmonson requesting a formal interview.”

The email sent to Edmonson on May 11 read:

“As previously discussed, the Department would like to interview you pertaining to the current investigation being conducted into the 2016 IACP (International Association of Chiefs of Police) Conference. Please advise as soon as possible of your availability/willingness as we are trying to conclude the investigation.”

“Later that day,” the report says, “Colonel Edmonson contacted investigators and essentially declined a formal interview by stating he didn’t have any additional information to add to what he had informally mentioned prior to his retirement.

So much for Edmonson’s compliance with the same standards to which he held subordinates.

“Investigators obtained Colonel Edmonson’s state-issued cellphone records and they did not reveal any text messages sent to any of the group from October 10-20, 2016. It should be noted Colonel Edmonson had an iPhone which utilized ‘iMessage,’ an Apple messaging feature, and the messages would not show up on the cellphone carrier’s messaging log.” (Emphasis theirs.)

The report meticulously recreated the time sequence for the travel to San Diego, including receipts for times when the four stopped for meals, gasoline, hotels and sightseeing. It even tracked their activity during the conference and questioned expense vouchers and time sheets, most of which has been covered in previous stories by LouisianaVoice and the Baton Rouge ADVOCATE.

The report concluded, “It’s obvious Colonel Edmonson was aware they visited those locations based on photos sent to him by Mrs. Hyatt, telephone calls between he (sic) and Lt. Hyatt, and statements obtained during the investigations.”

The Legislative Auditor’s office is also winding up an investigative audit of LSP as a result of the furor created by the trip.

East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore has initiated an INVESTIGATION into the suspension of three State Troopers for being paid overtime for work they may not have performed following a New Orleans TV station’s early November exposure of abuses under the Local Agency Compensated Enforcement (LACE) program.

It’s been more than a year since that San Diego trip but Moore has been strangely quiet about the payments collected by the four troopers.

It will be interesting to see if he will open an investigation into Edmonson’s deleting text messages from a state cellphone that were relevant to an ongoing investigation.

 

 

 

 

 

One of LouisianaVoice’s regular readers commented on Wednesday’s post that “half of Congress is occupied by communists” and “half of the supposed ‘good guys’ are swamp creatures that lie to get elected (only half?) and don’t really want the change that got them elected.”

And then he wrote, “Lay off of Trump. You sat by for 8 years as Obama raped and pillaged our country. He turned the IRS and intelligence agencies against us. He made deals with Iran as they chanted ‘death to America.’ Trump isn’t anyone’s savior but at least I don’t have to wonder if he truly hates this country like I did with Osama…I mean Obama.”

Oh dear, where to start? First of all, he every right to his opinion and the right to express it. But saying that “half of Congress is occupied by communists” is such an all-encompassing, paint-em-all-with-the-same-broad-brush kind of generalization that is all too common to people who go off on tangents and post unsubstantiated comments such as that. How can anyone say half of the 535 members of the House and Senate are communists when at the very most, he may have met a half-dozen of them for five minutes? That is such an inane comment that it really doesn’t even warrant dignifying with a rebuttal, so I’ll just leave it at that.

Obama “pillaged our country”? Just how, exactly, did he “pillage” the country? As I recall, Enron self-destructed in 2003, the housing bubble burst, Lehman Brothers went belly up and Bank of America acquired the cratering Merrill Lynch in 2008 near the end of George W. Bush’s term. Moreover, the entire affair was precipitated by the deregulation of financial institutions during the Reagan years.

True enough, Obama’s attorney general, Eric Holder, refused to prosecute the Wall Street bankers who brought on the collapse. That much I’ll give you and I still harbor resentment toward both Obama and Holder over that colossal malfeasance in failing to go after those thieves. You just know if some street thug had robbed a bank of a hundred bucks, he’d see hard time. Yet, those bankers stole billions—and walked away. Some were even paid bonuses of tens of millions of dollars for their trouble.

(You’d think we would’ve learned our lesson with the savings and loan debacle back in the final two decades of the Twentieth Century. William Black even wrote a prophetic book called The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One. Who knew then that the S&L collapse would reoccur on a much larger scale with the investment banks?)

And that “deal” with Iran is apparently the $150 billion Trump said Obama “gave” Iran. Pulitzer Prize-winning POLITIFACT says Trump got the name of the country right but that was about the extent of his accuracy. The $150 billion, you see, was Iran’s to begin with but had been frozen under several economic sanctions levied against the country. The money—their money—was released following verification by nuclear inspectors that Iran was complying with an agreement to curb its nuclear program. I suppose, though, if our reader got his information from BREITBART, he would have a somewhat different take on the whole affair.

And I just flat-out refuse to hold Obama responsible for the federal government’s response to Hurricane Katrina as some of Trump’s supporters continue to do. After all, the man wasn’t even president then and had only been in the Senate eight months. I actually heard one woman in Denham Springs mutter in disgust, “Thanks, President Obama” when she found the post office closed on Columbus Day—a federal holiday since 1968.

Finally, in response to the request to “lay off of trump”: not a chance in hell.

He has the chutzpa to question Obama’s loyalty to this country while choosing (typically of the TrumpCult) to overlook the fact that Trump has feuded with CNN, MSNBC, Time magazine, Elizabeth Warren, Jeff Flake, Bob Corker, Hispanics, and The New York Times—but strangely never with the Nazis, David Duke, Jason Kessler, or Vladimir Putin. All of which begs the question of where Trump’s loyalties lie.

Nope, I’m not going “lay off of Trump,” or the rest of the Repugnantcan gang of thugs who want to award generous—and permanent—tax breaks to the wealthy while doling out meager temporary breaks to the middle class and the poor.

  • Especially when Trump and his EPA Administrator have proposed the repeal of the Clean Power Plan which will give the go-ahead for polluting companies to pollute even more. That EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, you may remember, filed numerous suits against the EPA while Oklahoma attorney general which, I suppose, somehow makes him the perfect candidate to run the agency. Maybe I should sue Microsoft in hopes of being named the new CEO.
  • Especially when Trump appoints his budget director Mick Mulvaney to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created by (ahem) the Obama administration to protect Americans from predatory lenders and faulty mortgages—like the very ones that nearly brought down the world economy in 2008. Mulvaney, by the way, once called the bureau “a joke…in a sick, sad way.”
  • Especially when I read a story from 24/7 Wall Street just this week about the top 50 corporations that park their assets offshore. Of those 50 companies, which have a combined $1.7 trillion stashed in overseas accounts, 10 are healthcare and pharmaceutical companies, three are big oil, two are insurance giants, five are military contractors, five are computer companies and internet providers and 11 (count ‘em) are financial companies—many of the ones whose criminal activity (never prosecuted by Attorney General Holder) brought about the 2008 crash that necessitated the federal bailout.

Those 50 corporations, along with all the others, no doubt, have located enough loopholes to make their 35 per cent tax rate. Despite their bitching and moaning that the rate is too high, the 50 averaged just over 25 percent in effective tax rates.

  • AIG, one of the companies that gave us the 2008 recession, for example had an effective tax rate of minus 5 percent, meaning it not only paid no taxes, but actually got money. Likewise, General Motors had an effective rate of minus 32.9 percent.
  • Morgan Stanley, another of those Wall Street bankers who torpedoed the economy, had an effective tax rate of 17.2 percent, less than half the supposed rate of 35 percent. Bank of America, yet another of the rogue Wall Street bankers, had an effective tax rate of 17.9 percent.
  • The pharmaceutical company Allergan had an effective tax rate of zero.

What was your personal tax rate again?

Just take comfort in the knowledge that the biggest tax breaks under this bill go them that got—corporations and the filthy rich.

The wealthiest 1 percent of people worldwide have more wealth than the rest of the earth’s population combined.

Just eight individuals possess more wealth than 3.6 billion people—half the world’s population.

True, not all of those live in the U.S. But let that sink in and be proud for those who will realize the most generous tax breaks under this bill. But don’t take my word for it. See for yourself by clicking HERE. (Be sure to scroll down to the illustration of the spheres of influence.)

Trump and the Republicans in Congress, having failed in every effort to repeal Obamacare, are now so desperate to accomplish something, anything, before standing for reelection next year (the full House and one-third of the Senate), that they are flailing away like a blindfolded man in a martial arts tournament in a near-hysterical effort to get this ill-advised tax bill passed.

Those who proudly call themselves advocates of good ol’ American capitalism will rail against the redistribution of wealth, spitting out the term as if it were a vulgarism of the vilest sort. But a dramatic redistribution of wealth has been taking place for the past several decades. And it has been—and continues to be—redistributed upward, not downward. That’s the dirty little secret they will never discuss because that kind of redistribution is perfectly okay.

And know, too, that there is only one reason to park money offshore: to dodge taxes.

How much do you have sheltered in the Cayman Islands? Or Aruba? Or Belize?

Didn’t think so. Yet, it is the white middle class and white working poor, the ones who make up the core of the 35 percent that comprises the TrumpCult, who are being screwed by this clown and the Republicans in Congress.

And the saddest part is they don’t even know it.

Corporations need tax breaks

so they can earn more money

to pour into campaigns and PACs

to lobby for bigger tax cuts

Spoiler alert: All you frothing fanatics who still think Donald Trump is the savior of the free world may want to stop reading at this point because the rest of what I’m about to say will not be very pleasant to those of you who to this point have refused to think for yourselves and this will only serve to stoke your anger.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t read it; you should. You should read the words of what any rational observer of the body politic might write about this blusterous buffoon we know as POTUS. To refuse to read or hear or to ignore the facts would cast you into that 35 percent core group of Trump supporters that I refer to as a cult. You continue to experience mind-altering donalgasms with each new tweet.

Okay, you’re already composing your response for this post’s comments section. You will say:

  • That I am a flaming liberal (I’m not. In fact, I only left the Republican Party after more than 30 years of an uninterrupted record of voting Republican because of the likes of Bobby Jindal and Donald Trump);
  • That my candidate Hillary Clinton lost the election (she was not my candidate; I really dislike her intensely, just not with the same intensity as that with which I loathe Donald Trump. And Hillary didn’t lose, the American people lost);
  • That I can’t get past losing (what I can’t get past is having a POTUS who is a laughingstock to the rest of the world, who would accept the word of Vladimir Putin over our own intelligence agencies, who thinks it is more important to have a child molester in the U.S. Senate than a Democrat, and who finds it impossible to distinguish documented facts from his sorry version of the truth).

Since becoming president, Trump has been caught telling no fewer than 500 lies that are easily substantiated as such. Yes, all politicians lie. Former Gov. Edwin Edwards once said as much. But this idiot has taken it to a new level, lying through his teeth even as he had to know his every utterance and tweet is fact-checked and more often than not, debunked before the echo of his words has faded. A few examples:

  • During the campaign, he promised to release his income tax reports. He lied.
  • He claimed the crowd for his inauguration was the “largest audience to ever witness an inauguration.” He lied.
  • During his speech at CIA headquarters, he repeated his claim that he opposed the war with Iraq. But he told Howard Stern in 2002 that he supported the war. He lied.
  • Trump has repeatedly, without any evidence to back his claim, said he only lost the national popular vote because of widespread voter fraud. He lied.
  • Speaking to business leaders at the White House, Trump said, “I’m a very big person when it comes to the environment. I have received awards on the environment.” He has never received any environmental awards. He lied.
  • Trump claimed that immigration and Customs Enforcement and border agents “unanimously endorsed me for president.” He lied.
  • He said the national homicide rate was “horribly increasing.” In fact, it is down significantly (except perhaps in Baton Rouge). He lied.
  • He claimed two people were fatally shot in Chicago during President Obama’s last speech as president. Didn’t happen. He lied.
  • He claimed he had “one of the best memories of all time” but later could not remember a meeting with George Papadopoulos, who confessed to lying to the FBI about meeting with Soviet agents. Here is a photo of that meeting.

He Lied.

  • His “alternative facts” spokesperson Kellyanne Conway alluded to the “Bowling Green massacre” in defending Trump’s travel ban. There was no “Bowling Green massacre.” She lied for him.
  • Trump claimed The New York Times was “forced to apologize to its subscribers for the poor reporting it did on my election win.” Never happened. He lied.
  • Trump promised tax reform that would lower taxes for working Americans. The biggest cruelest LIE of them all.

And these are only a handful of the buckets of lies that have poured out of his mouth.

Just as cruel, and approaching a new level of stupid, is the position taken on the tax bill by Louisiana’s two senators, John Kennedy and Bill Cassidy. Cassidy’s support is baffling because he worked as a physician at Earl K. Long Hospital in Baton Rouge where he had to know the desperation of Louisiana’s poor, uninsured citizens.

Kennedy is more understandable. In addition to drinking week killer, he once ran a TV ad during his first campaign for state treasurer in which he said, “During my time as secretary of Revenue, I reduced paperwork for small businesses by 150 percent.”

How anything can be reduced more than 100 percent is one of the great unsolved mysteries of our time. The real irony, however, is that the claim came from a man who was asking us to put him in charge of the state’s financial investments. Talk about voodoo economics….

Kennedy has said he would vote against the tax bill if it contained the so-called “TRIGGER” provision, which would automatically abort the bill and revert to the present tax rates if the new bill did not perform as projected by the Republicans in Congress who keep promising they are from the government and that they are here to help us. And they’ll still respect us in the morning.

ILLUSTRATION OF PROJECTED EFFECTS OF TAX BILL

Those of you who have stayed with me to this point need to consider one other feature of the so-called “tax reform” package.

If you have children in college, who are headed for college in a couple of years, or if you have children who recently graduated from college, it might interest you to know that the interest rates on student LOANS will no longer be deductible under the new tax bill. Moreover, students on TOPS or who receive other tuition EXEMPTIONS will find that those exemptions will now count as income on which taxes will be due.

Of course, Trump and his congressional lap dogs—Cassidy, Kennedy, Garrett Graves and the rest of Louisiana’s Repugnantcan delegation included—will continue to lie, distort, twist and skew the facts to make you believe their tax REFORM is the best thing for you since Barry Goldwater and you will continue to drink the Kool Aid—because you want to believe them.

Never mind that you continue to vote against your own economic interests because the Repugnantcans continue to feed you the red meat of islamophobia, illegal immigrants, welfare cheats (who in fact take only a tiny fraction of what corporate America and Wall Street steal from taxpayers every day), Obamacare and gun rights. They do this in the knowledge that you will continue to elect a 70-year-old child predator as long as he waves a pistol in the air and displays the Ten Commandments.

You are being taken for fools, to be perfectly honest. The Republicans are holding a Bible in one hand, wrapping themselves in the flag and picking your pocket, all in one swift motion.

And you love them for it.

I don’t suppose any of you have ever wondered what became of the so-called Fiscal Hawks now that the Republicans have full control over everything in Washington. It’s kinda funny how you don’t hear anything about deficit reduction these days.