Louisiana State Police Commission (LSPC) Member Sabrina Richardson, not long after she joined the Commission, openly challenges LSP Col. Lamar Davis entailing restoring leave for LSP Troopers for whom investigations take some time to transpire.
For the second time in his administration, Gov. Edwards is facing intense pressure to remove a member of the Louisiana State Police Commission (LSPC). It appears he intends to handle this latest pressure very differently than the way he handled the pressure previously, which transpired not all that long after he became Governor of Louisiana.
In the first case, Calvin Braxton, pressure mounted only six (6) months into his first term in office as Louisiana State Trooper’s Association (LSTA) attorney Floyd Falcon sent Gov. Edwards this letter dated July 11, 2016 calling upon Edwards to initiate proceedings to remove Braxton as an LSPC Commissioner.
Unlike most all appointments to Louisiana state boards and commissions, the LSPC is one in which appointees don’t serve at the pleasure of the Governor. Accordingly, the Governor has no authority to remove the individual outright. Instead, the Governor must convene a hearing, preside over that hearing, and it is the Governor who then makes the decision entailing whether the individual should remain on the LSPC or not.
Braxton and then-LSPC Executive Director Cathy Derbonne were holding the line against both the LSTA and LSPC members being permitted to make political campaign contributions. Though the efforts were led by Derbonne (who was acting on complaints filed by four retired troopers who were summarily expelled from the LSTA for filing the complaints), Braxton was very vocal in his support of her efforts.
On November 9, 2016, less than four months after Falcon sent the above letter, the Louisiana State Board of Ethics, acting on a filing by Derbonne with that agency, entered into this stipulation agreement wherein the LSTA and its then-Executive Director, David Young, agreed to pay a $5,000 fine for improper campaign contributions by the LSTA. That incident sent the LSTA into overdrive to ensure that Derbonne and Braxton were both flushed.
The LSTA succeeded in getting Derbonne out the door when, on January 7, 2017, the LSPC went into a closed-door executive session and strong armed a hurriedly slapped-together resignation letter from Derbonne.
Braxton nevertheless continued to be a thorn in the LSTA’s side. Accordingly, recently-retired LSP Lt. Col. Jay Oliphant, who had already placed the wheels in motion for Braxton’s ouster by authoring this June 2, 2016 incident report (181 days after the incident) in which then-Captain Oliphant essentially says Braxton is an egotistical, arrogant, power-hungry individual willing to throw his weight around to obtain special treatment for his family (namely his daughter entailing a DWI, which was the original “incident”), became arguably the most intriguing individual at LSP.
Obviously frustrated that Gov. Edwards was making no effort to initiate proceedings to remove Braxton, on June 17, 2017, the LSTA sent Gov. Edwards this follow-up letter openly asking if Gov. Edwards was going to set Braxton’s removal in motion by scheduling a public hearing to get Braxton removed.
When Edwards remained silent on the matter (at least to the LSTA), the LSTA went nuclear by contacting Fox8 (New Orleans) investigative reporter Lee Zurik, who, in turn, on July 17, 2017, commenced to blindside Braxton just before the July LSPC meeting with an interview request. The result was this bombshell investigative report wherein Zurik even relied upon Sound Off Louisiana video footage for commentary Braxton made to the LSPC after Zurik’s departure.
Importantly, Braxton has contended from the outset that, while he acknowledges that his daughter was arrested for DWI on December 4, 2015, he adamantly denies all of the other allegations Oliphant placed in that incident report which LSTA officials supplied to Zurik. Evidence certainly exists that Gov. Edwards may have been well aware that the incident report may have been largely fabricated because, according to Braxton’s June 24, 2019 deposition, he states that Gov. Edwards told him (see page 168 of the just-linked deposition) that he (Edwards):
Wasn’t even doing anything with this, that it’s over with.
Braxton’s quote of Gov. Edwards seems to justify and explain an important quote he made at the 6:43 mark of Zurik’s video above (which Zurik included as part of the Sound Off Louisiana footage). Let’s emphasize the quote that Braxton made at this point because we think it is very important, and nobody had a clue what Braxton meant way back then (the material in brackets [ ] is our take on the matter):
The people [LSTA] did what they did [fabricate a large portion of an incident report 181 days after-the-fact]. The Governor did what he did [intentionally didn’t act on the fabricated report]. I’m still here.
The LSTA’s nuclear attack with Zurik posed a huge problem for Edwards. He was being lambasted and lampooned in the media (and especially on conservative radio talk shows) about having kept such a dubious character as the incident report portrayed on the LSPC for as long as he had. Nevertheless, Braxton was making it crystal clear that he would not be resigning from the LSPC.
Enter State Sen. (then State Representative) Katrina Jackson. Edwards apparently dropped a dime on Jackson, who was serving as Braxton’s attorney, and sought help on the huge public relations nightmare with which Edwards found himself confronted. Again, according to Braxton’s sworn deposition (see page 192), Braxton claims that then-Rep. Jackson, without any authorization from him, authored this July 21, 2017 press release wherein it’s claimed that Braxton resigned from the LSPC. His deposition makes it clear that he “never resigned” from the LSPC and in no way granted Jackson authority to indicate that he did resign, much less draft a press release to that effect.
So, that’s how Edwards allegedly managed to give Calvin Braxton the boot without having to go through the formal hearing process as required by Louisiana’s Constitution entailing removal of LSPC members.
Judging by this May 16, 2022 Fox8 feature wherein Zurik resurfaces, it appears Edwards plans to “toe the line” this time around regarding any potential removal of LSPC Member Sabrina Richardson who, according to the Zurik feature, may have engaged in “criminal acts” entailing payroll at the New Orleans Police Department. In sharp contrast to Braxton, the calls for Richardson’s head are coming from crime and corruption watchdogs rather than from secretive (allegedly largely fabricated) letters from the LSTA. Also in sharp contrast to Braxton, Gov. Edwards’ office makes it crystal clear at the very end of the Zurik feature linked above that Louisiana’s Constitution will be strictly adhered to entailing Richardson. Let’s take a look:
We can only assume that Richardson has resisted any overture that she needs to resign from the LSPC, and we’ll point out again that, just as was the case with Braxton, Edwards’ only option is to seek a hearing for her removal. Also, he would have to preside over that public hearing, and he would be the ultimate judge to make the decision on whether Richardson is removed from the LSPC or not.
Richardson actually gave an early indication that she would challenge LSP Col. Lamar Davis’ authority when she openly challenged him about restoring leave if LSP Internal Affairs investigations drag on for extended periods. Davis countered by indicating that, by restoring leave when LSP Troopers engage in acts such as shoplifting, the public gets the perception that, “police officers are being treated special.” Let’s take a look:
2/11/21 LSPC Meeting: Richardson challenges LSP Col. Lamar Davis entailing troopers having leave restored when investigations drag on for extended periods of time.
Word is that there is yet another LSPC member with problems that may dwarf those of Braxton or Richardson, but it would be premature to publish anything on that matter at this time. Nevertheless, we’ll point out the fact that it is the LSPC which, obviously being controlled by LSP and formulated by LSP, and with all of its obvious shortcomings from a public accountability standpoint, issued LSPC Rule 12.9 denying the public the right to examine letters of counseling/warning. Why? Because the LSPC (read: LSP itself) does not “consider” them to be public record.
As Sound Off Louisiana subscribers and site visitors are aware, founder Robert Burns will be arguing before 19th JDC Judge Don Johnson tomorrow (Monday, May 23, 2022) regarding whether the LSPC can declare letters of counseling/warning, of which LSP Trooper Scott Lopez has two, to not be public record and it carry any weight. We’ll let everyone know how it goes soon after the hearing concludes.
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