Edmonson’s reappointment casts doubt on Edwards’ commitment to ethical governance

“I Will Not Lie, Cheat, or Steal or Tolerate Those Who Do.” — John Bel Edwards

By Robert Mann

Any hopes that the election of Gov.-elect John Bel Edwards would signal a change of direction at the ethically troubled Louisiana State Police headquarters were dashed on Wednesday when Edwards announced that he was re-appointing Col. Mike Edmonson to the job he held for eight years under Gov. Bobby Jindal.

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Col. Mike Edmonson

Edmonson earned widespread scorn and derision for his involvement in a shady amendment, passed in the final hours of the 2014 legislative session, that gave him and one other state trooper substantial increases in retirement income. It was never clear just how much Edmonson stood to gain by the sneaky, illegal arrangement, but it appears that the figure was, at least, $30,000 a year. Edmonson was eventually forced to turn down the money.

In bestowing upon Edmonson my “Villain of the Year” award last year, I noted that the ignominious honor was shared by him and “state Sen. Neil Riser, R-Columbia, who feigned ignorance about the origin of an amendment that provided Edmonson and one other state trooper a generous, unearned boost in retirement income. After refusing to admit authorship, Riser finally fessed up and admitted his role in the scheme. Edmonson insisted the idea originated with his staff.”The deal stunk to the heavens, as I reported in August 2014:

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.

Edmonson says that the legislation wasn’t his idea, but rather that of his loyal staff. If you are gullible enough to accept that, you might also believe that most charismatic leaders inspire their underlings to agonize over the boss’s post-retirement comfort.

Edmonson’s role in this disturbing caper isn’t the only reason Edwards should have sent the colonel packing. Over at Louisiana Voice, journalist Tom Aswell has spent the past two years cataloging the various ethical problems plaguing the State Police under Edmonson’s misrule. (He filed this new report on Edmonson on Wednesday.)

So, why would Edwards reappoint a man with such unethical baggage? Could this have anything to do with it?

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Whatever the case, chalk up one bad appointment for Edwards, which brings into question his judgment, as well as his commitment to ethical governance. In this case, the new Edwards administration will not be a break with the sordid Jindal administration but, rather, an embarrassing continuation of it.

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18 Responses to Edmonson’s reappointment casts doubt on Edwards’ commitment to ethical governance

  1. “I will not lie, cheat, steal or tolerate those who do” but will appoint those who do. JBE first broken campaign promise.

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  2. earthmother says:

    Spot on comments, Bob. Coming from the good government, ethical, West Point honor code guy, the Edmonson re-appointment is a downright betrayal, akin to Republicans claiming to be the family values people, all the while visiting prostitutes, committing adultery and condemning others for doing the same thing.

    I understand political reality and quid pro quo. I won’t completely write off Edwards over one unfortunate appointment, although I’ve lost faith in his honesty. But if a pattern emerges and it appears we’ve been played yet again, perhaps the electorate will finally have enough of literally being taken for all we’re worth. And this time it won’t be years before the truth is obvious – it will be before the inauguration even takes place.

    Thanks for coming out and speaking truth to power so quickly after this announcement. We’re watching.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. rtmannjr says:

    Thanks. Gotta keep an eye on all of ’em, Dem or Repub.

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  4. Chris Reynolds says:

    Everything chronicled right here: http://www.lspripoff.com. It’s also the very first entry on a fraud website: http://www.jbefraud.com/appoint_edmonson_LSP.htm.

    Edwards made that guy’s website so easy for him. I hate to say this because I wish there was no need for such a site, but I’m glad he formed it. Let’s just hope it’s not loaded down by 2019.

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  5. Bob in BR says:

    Wow, not even inaugurated yet and Edwards hits our citizens, especially those of us who voted for him, with a sucker punch to the gut as a way of saying he’s open and ready for business. My respect for him just dimmed considerably. Honor, truth, and justice my ass.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. jwpatrick1 says:

    This deal was hatched when the Louisiana Sheriffs Association endorsed Edwards. It has been no secret. It is disappointing in that during the Edmonson Amendment Edwards committed to State Police Retirees that he would not stand for this type dishonesty and he would ensure they were watched closely until Jindal was out of office. He said he couldn’t do anything about Edmonson then but would fight against a new Governor keeping Edmonson. That was why Edmonson was a supporter of Scott Angelle. He only became an Edwards supporter when Angelle lost. The endorsement from the Louisiana State Trooper’s Association was done without the knowledge or approval of the members. Apparently Edmonson and a few select Board members made the decision to endorse Edwards. In fact many of the members have threatened involved Board members with Recall. It violates State Police Commission rules for State Troopers to endorse a specific candidate. It has since been revealed that the Executive Director, David Young made campaign contributions from his personal bank account but was then reimbursed by the Association, again according to several Board members without proprr authorization. It is also a violation of State Police Commission rules for employees to make or cause to be made campaign contributions. According to the outgoing President, Edmonson asked him to submit a letter from the Association to Edwards requesting that Edmonson be reappointed. Again, in violation of State Police Commission rules prohibiting involvement of Troopers in political issues. Edmonson now denies asking for the letter, but didn’t he first deny knowing anything about the Legislation that we later learned he had previously authorized. It is my hope that the Louisiana Ethics Board, the State Inspector Generals Offiìce, the State Police Commission, the IRS (since there may be activity that endangers the Associations tax exempt status as well as the monies personal contributed in his name by the Association Executive Director), and the State Police Commission to investigate this activity forrules violations and possible Criminal Law violations. While this announcement was not surprising it was anticipated. The real losers are the exemplary Troopers and civilian employees serving our citizens each day and night.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Fredster says:

    To say this is disappointing is an understatement.

    I believe many of us thought we were getting a new sheriff in town with Edwards. It appears we’re getting the same ole colonel. I do hope this is not indicative of future actions. If it is, then John Bel may be a one-term governor. People were sick and fed up with Jindal and his antics. They are not going to be in the mood to continue more of the same yet again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Maybe we need a republican to be elected house speaker. A clear demarcation of power and control, legislative on one side executive on the other side. If Edwards is allowed to controls the house there is no chance of deliberate dialogue.

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      • Fredster says:

        Interesting…did you also consider that during Jindal’s two terms?

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      • Yes, I thought it was a terrible idea for the democratically controlled house to elect Jim Tucker speaker. The dems handed over a unchecked control of the state to Jindal and he never looked back. I feel it would also be a terrible mistake for the republican controlled house to elect a democrate to be speaker.

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      • Fredster says:

        @lindseysaintrose: Except…except:

        <

        blockquote>Democrats outnumbered Republicans in the Louisiana House, 53–50 (with two “No Party” members), when Tucker became Speaker on January 14, 2008. The governor in Louisiana traditionally recommends the Speaker, and House members concur despite the separation of powers. Tucker said that some seventy members, including nearly twenty Democrats, had pre-committed to his candidacy, including African American Representative and former congressional candidate Karen Carter Peterson of New Orleans. He succeeded outgoing Democratic Speaker Joe Salter of Florien in Sabine Parish in north Louisiana, who had been recommended in 2003 by Jindal’s predecessor and successful opponent, outgoing Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco.[3] By 2011, the GOP had a House majority after defections and special elections.

        As head of the House Republican Caucus, Tucker spearheaded GOP opposition to Blanco’s legislative initiatives, especially in regard to state spending. Jindal, a departing Republican congressman from suburban New Orleans, said that he wants to prevent Washington D.C.-style partisanship from taking root in the state capital, Baton Rouge. Jindal said that Tucker’s “bipartisan coalition” indicates that the new Speaker can work well with members of both parties.[4]

        Former Democratic State Representative Don Cazayoux of New Roads, the seat of Pointe Coupee Parish north of Baton Rouge, now a former member of the United States House of Representatives, had pursued the leadership post and questioned why Jindal got involved so soon in the process. Jindal said that he is ratifying a consensus choice already made by lawmakers.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Tucker_%28Louisiana_politician%29

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      • Stephen Winham says:

        In addition to what Fredster points out, why are we ignoring the elephant sitting on the sofa here? Who is the most powerful state legislator? What is his party? Is he not likely to be re-elected Senate President?

        Liked by 1 person

      • rtmannjr says:

        Good point, Steve. I guess the West Point code doesn’t apply here, either. http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2015/04/fbi_john_alario_louisiana_purc.html

        Liked by 1 person

      • Fredster says:

        @Stephen: Oh Gawd please don’t even start with Alario. I don’t understand how the man has avoided jail for all these years.

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  8. Bob in BR says:

    Perhaps part of the deal will be that Alario will become a Democrat again, not that party affiliation has ever been an ideology, oops, problem for him before. This is beginning to sound like the Who. Meet the new boss; same as the old boss.

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