Newly-Elected LSPC Chairman Eulis Simien, Jr.
Literally days after Governor John Bel Edwards was sworn into office, a group of retired troopers asked the Louisiana State Police Commission (LSPC) to investigate campaign contributions made by the Louisiana State Trooper’s Association (LSTA) into Gov. Edwards’ 2015 campaign for Governor. They asserted that a “straw donor,” David Young, LSTA’s Executive Director, made the contributions, which totaled $8,000, through his personal account but was then reimbursed by the LSTA for those contributions, which constitutes a violation of law.
The LSPC assigned T. Taylor Townsend, the head of Gov. Edwards’ Super PAC, to conduct the investigation. Townsend recommended that the LSPC summarily dismiss the matter in stating that the LSPC had no jurisdiction over the LSTA. One retired trooper, Leon “Bucky” Millet, has consistently requested a written report from Townsend and has repeatedly requested that the LSPC place the item on the LSPC’s agenda. Each time the item was discussed, the LSPC said that Townsend was declining to issue a written report, and all the LSPC had to hang its hat on was his oral statement that the matter should be dismissed.
Former LSPC Executive Director Cathy Derbonne has publicly stated that the LSPC strong-armed her resignation (which she granted effective January 13, 2017) as a result of her having reported the illegal campaign contributions. The Louisiana State Board of Ethics investigated the matter and fined the LSTA $5,000 for the violations. Former LSPC Member Lloyd Grafton, who resigned on February 9, 2017 in frustration of the treatment he asserts Derbonne received, bluntly characterized the campaign contributions, which Edwards refunded but several other political candidates, including former Gov. Bobby Jindal, did not, as “pure money laundering.”
Millet’s efforts appeared to possibly bear fruit on Thursday, November 9, 2017, when the LSPC, after convening a controversial executive session, shocked observers by voting to set aside Townsend’s findings and re-open an investigation into the campaign contributions. Sound Off Louisiana’s Robert Burns openly questioned the stated justification for executive session, which was “pending litigation.” He contended that there was no “pending litigation” and the mere presence of an internal docket number applicable only for the LSPC did not constitute pending litigation before a state judicial court. Nevertheless, LSPC legal counsel Lenore Feeney stated her opinion that the matter would be assessed as “pending litigation” due to the matter appearing before the LSPC.
Feeney’s response to Burns notwithstanding, just before the regular meeting reconvened after executive session had concluded, Feeney quickly announced that as a “matter of record” the reason for the executive session was being changed to “investigative proceedings regarding allegations of misconduct.” Burns, who had not had time to get his camera turned on to capture Feeney’s stated change, asked newly-elected Chairman Eulis Simien, Jr. (former Chairman T. J. Doss and Vice Chairman Monica Manzella resigned in disgrace after disturbing videos taken by Burns of the two exiting a movie theater and checking into the Watermark hotel were published by fellow blogger Tom Aswell that same day) if Feeney could restate the reason for the change in justification for executive session for the benefit of his camera. Simien tersely denied the request and reacted tersely to Burns’ second request for a repeat. Further, Simien continued his audience-unfriendly demeanor we can only assume will be maintained going forward in dressing Millet down.
Given all the turmoil of LSP and the LSPC, including the following Lee Zurik investigative series installments on LSP payroll fraud: Installments one, two, three, four, five, and six Simien’s terse language and subsequent condescending commentary directed at audience members, which we’ll report on separately, would seem particularly inopportunely timed. Nevertheless, the following video captures this surprising LSPC action.
LSPC discusses “Investigation of LSTA political contributions.”
For a 10-segment breakdown of the November 9, 2017 LSPC meeting, CLICK HERE.
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