Under Bobby Jindal, Louisiana’s culture of corruption hasn’t changed

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By Robert Mann

The sneaky, dishonest way Gov. Bobby Jindal and the Legislature shoveled an extra $30,000 in annual retirement benefits to the head of the Louisiana State Police should forever prevent Jindal from bragging about having cleaned up his state’s politics.

It won’t, but the events that resulted in an illegal retirement boost for Col. Mike Edmonson – Jindal’s appointed police chief – suggests that Louisiana politics remains a cesspool of cronyism.

In the closing hours of the 2014 legislative session, legislators passed legislation with an amendment granting Edmonson and another state trooper – both enrolled in the state’s DROP retirement plan, but still working and earning full salaries – additional retirement benefits.

Of course, the amendment didn’t mention Edmonson or anyone else by name. That fact didn’t give legislators pause. They passed the bill without the required fiscal impact statement. Only after Jindal’s signature did we discover the retirement honey pot and its cost.

Had they asked any questions, legislators might have realized they were giving $300,000 in extra retirement benefits to just two individuals. Actually, they spent much more money than that, as the fiscal analysis (conducted after the bill passed) only assessed the impact of the bill’s first five years. Edmonson is 55. He stands to collect the extra money for several decades.

When state Treasurer John Kennedy and the state’s news media (including dogged bloggers C.B. Forgotston and Tom Aswell) challenged the propriety of the deal, no one seemed to know where the amendment originated. After first denying authorship, Sen. Neil Riser (R-Columbia), a close Jindal ally, finally acknowledged his role.

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5 thoughts on “Under Bobby Jindal, Louisiana’s culture of corruption hasn’t changed

  1. Outstanding!

    • I agree.

      The only corrections/clarifications I would offer relate to the amount of additional annual retirement payments to which Colonel Edmonson was entitled by the Act and the actuarial cost of the Act. Being a money kind of guy, these numbers are important to me.

      Based on Colonel Edmonson’s own statements on The Jim Engster show, the benefit amount is an additional $55,000 per year, not $30,000 as has been widely reported.

      The $300,000 is the actuarial calculation of the present value of what the two people who would benefit from the Act would get for life [see the actuarial note]. That amount was to have been immediately (July 1) transferred from the experience account to the regular account to pay this liability upfront and in full. If you look at the note, that is the only payment in that 5 year period (Note: the 5 year horizon is hard-coded into the actuarial note report form, so all actuarial notes reflect the 5 year costs}.

      Now that the retirement board’s attorneys have opined that essentially nothing has to be litigated on this, the board is likely to accept that the easiest way out is to simply withhold the additional benefits. C. B. Forgotson and others are of the distinct opinion the only way to undo the Act is to litigate it and has offered sound legal reasons why he believes this to be so.

      • Thanks, Steve. I went back and read the fiscal analysis again. Do I understand you to mean that a one-time $300,000 should be expected to cover the extra payments for life?

      • Yes. I am not an actuary, but when I computed the future value of just Colonel Edmonson’s additional benefit (at +$55,000 per year), NET of his contributions to DROP, I came to a number that would be in the ballpark of what could reasonably be his part of the $300,000 in the actuarial note.

        I have repeatedly asked somebody to do a full disclosure on computation of the $300,000 in the actuarial note, but nobody has so far. At any rate, the note shows a ONE-TIME $300,000 transfer as the total cost to fund the retirement benefit increases of both people and I can see how that is possible based on the numbers I got and making the assumptions I made in my analysis. The key, in my analysis, is the reversion of the money they both had in their DROP accounts to the regular account from which benefits are paid. In other words the present value of their future benefits would be significantly greater than $300,000, but the $300,000 could be the net cost.

  2. A certain group of politicos subscribes to the belief that if you tell lies enough times, people will believe them. One of their own proclaimed that “you can fool some of the people all of the time, and you can fool all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.”

    That said, most people now realize that Pathetic Piyush’s “gold standard” for ethics was fool’s gold – all glitter and no value. With fading support and zero credibility, he seems to be the only one left who does not realize that this administration is the most corrupt in Louisiana history since Gov. Richard Leche. Piyush deserves the same retirement village as Leche – federal prison. He and his minions need to be thoroughly and quickly investigated and the lot of them ushered to their proper reward.

    Next stop: FBI Public Corruption Unit.

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