LSTA, while begging members for dues increase, simultaneously sues LSPC’s Jason Hannaman for “publication of Circular 202 and his comments included therein.”

Louisiana State Police Commission Executive Director Jason Hannaman, who was sued by the Louisiana State Trooper’s Association on May 15, 2020 for publishing a circular and for his commentary therein.

On Tuesday, June 9, 2020, the Louisiana State Trooper’s Association (LSTA) mailed out this letter begging its membership for an increase in dues.  From the letter:

After much deliberation and scrutiny over the financial reports, the Board has had to use LSTA savings to bridge the gap between the association’s expenses and income for the third year in a row. This was not an easy decision and did not come without substantial cuts to the operating budget over the last three years……..This letter is to inform you of a dues increase request of $7.00 per pay period for “Active” members beginning September 1, 2020.

One area in which the LSTA has certainly not cut its budget is legal expenses, nor have they been bashful spending money on attorneys to sue agencies and people or defend one suit filed against it.

Former LSPC member Calvin Braxton sued the LSTA and, as discovery proceeded, he added LSP as a defendant on February 19, 2020 accusing both LSP Lt. Colonel Jay Oliphant and LSP itself (specifically Col. Kevin Reeves, though Reeves was not added as defendant) of defaming his character in accusing Braxton of murder.

We have received what we deem as highly-credible reports that Braxton has spent over $50,000 in legal fees pursuing the LSTA, so how much has the LSTA spent defending the matter?  Quite likely somewhere close to that figure, and perhaps even more.

The Braxton suit is one in which the LSTA is on the defensive side of the legal field; however, Sound Off Louisiana is, to date, the only media outlet to publish the fact that the LSTA put its offense on the field when it sued the Louisiana State Police Commission (LSPC) over the latter’s efforts to restrict LSTA members’ ability to make political campaign contributions.

Most of the controversy surrounding LSTA political contributions arose over complaints filed by long-time LSPC watchdog, retired LSP Trooper Leon “Bucky” Millet.  On May 15, 2020, the LSTA went even more on the offensive in court when it sued LSPC Executive Director Jason Hannaman.  From that lawsuit:

At the State Police Commission’s regularly scheduled business meeting of January 10, 2019, a complaint was submitted against the Louisiana State Trooper’s Association alleging violations of rules prohibiting political activity.  The complaint was ultimately dismissed by the State Police Commission at its February 14, 2019 regular business meeting, citing a bookkeeping/reporting error as reasons for the dismissal, clearing the Louisiana State Trooper’s Association of all charges.  Nonetheless, the complaint was received and investigated by the State Police Commission.

The likelihood of future complaints against the Louisiana State Troopers Association has a chilling effect on the right to engage in political activity……..Petitioners fear they may be subject to penalties up to and including termination should Louisiana State Troopers Association engage in political activity.  This fear limits the effectiveness of the Louisiana State Trooper’s Association to pursue and fulfill its purposes.

Petitioners also make Jason Hannaman a party due to his publication of General Circular 202 and comments included therein.

LSPC has already answered the amendments the LSTA filed which added Hannaman as defendant to its original suit.

At the meeting of the LSPC of Thursday, June 11, 2020, the membership tacitly (i.e. without mentioning a word about the adding of Hannaman as a defendant) tried to fix any perception that it has jurisdiction over the LSTA.  They did so by approving the adding of addendums to minutes and agendas to meetings entailing discussions of Millet’s complaint.

Lenore Feeney, LSPC attorney, who was most likely on the phone with a colleague at the law firm employing her, Taylor Porter (or perhaps the Attorney General’s Office), signaled to LSPC Chairman Eulis Simien, Jr. that she needed to have a brief chat with him, and we doubt it was regarding whether or not she desired mustard on her hot dog.

When it became apparent that a few seconds would not be enough to resolve the matter (or perhaps a fear those viewing the video may be able to read lips despite efforts to conceal lips from the camera’s view), Simien and Feeney simply exited the meeting into a small side room and informed everyone else in the room that the meeting would, “stand in recess for a moment.”  We kept the camera rolling so everyone can observe just how long this “informal recess” lasted.  Here’s video coverage of the entire episode:

 
Though never mentioning a word about any lawsuit, the LSPC tacitly addresses the matter of Jason Hannaman being added as defendant to the LSTA’s lawsuit by adding addendums to past meetings’ agendas and minutes entailing a complaint of alleged political campaign contribution violations submitted to the LSPC by LSP watchdog and retired LSP trooper Leon “Bucky” Millet.

Everyone already knows the previous LSPC Executive Director, Cathy Derbonne, was quickly shown the door for processing a complaint by Millet (and others).  That action came as a result of a past LSPC membership which can only be described as LSTA-friendly.

In fact, that’s when we were contacted and asked to begin videotaping LSPC meetings, and the January, 2017 meeting was our first.  It was at that meeting that Derbonne was allegedly “constructively discharged,” as reflected in her lawsuit’s pleadings.  Technically, she resigned, but that resignation came once she was allegedly subjected to intense pressure to resign in a closed-door executive session at that meeting.

A key reason for her sought-after-resignation was her handling of the political contributions issue.  Derbonne has her own lawsuit against LSPC which is pending before the First Circuit Court of Appeals after District Judge William Morvant cited a New Iberia Sheriff’s Office case stating that, when it’s part of an employee’s regular duties to report incidents of alleged wrongdoing, that employee has no whistle blower protection when terminated for having reporting that alleged wrongdoing.

It would appear from the preceding video that Simien may be sending a quiet signal that there’s already been one Executive Director implosion that transpired during his tenure as an LSPC member, and he intends to “have the back” of current Executive Director Jason Hannaman.  From our observations, Hannaman seems like a very professional individual who strives to perform his duties well, and we would give him high marks in that regard.  He may, however, nevertheless be losing at least a little sleep after having been named personally in a lawsuit by the obviously-powerful LSTA, particularly when he knows full well what happened to Derbonne regarding her mere performance of her duties in reporting the matter to Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne’s office and the State Board of Ethics.

So, it will certainly be up to LSTA membership on whether they want to permit another approximate $182/year to be taken from their paychecks for this walks-like-a-duck, quacks-like-a-duck, labor union to wine and dine legislators and curry favor with same, but we feel compelled to point out just a few things about the LSTA to the public at large at this time:

The LSTA:

  • had a previous Executive Director who was arrested for recklessly firing a pistol at his daughter’s boyfriend outside LSTA headquarters at a very busy commerce area in Baton Rouge.
  • had that same Executive Director serve as a straw donor to facilitate past political contributions for which the LSTA was fined $5,000 for those campaign finance violations.
  • had no qualms exploiting young cancer patients to pull at the heartstrings of the LSPC to obtain its blessings to make campaign contributions.
  • elected as its LSPC representative (who was named Chairman of the LSPC) a gentleman who shortly thereafter had to resign in disgrace after being videotaped checking into a swanky hotel room with the LSPC’s Vice Chairman, who also had to resign in disgrace.
  • humiliate the LSTA elected-representative to follow up that disgraced member by openly shouting its displeasure at him for merely voting his conscience, with that member sending a scathing letter immediately prior to him getting so frustrated at the LSTA that he resigned from LSP entirely.
  • had no qualms declining to provide legal support for LSP Master Trooper Dean Coates’ fight for a legitimate merit pay raise (that would also impact the vast majority of LSTA’s membership), but simultaneously have no qualms paying for legal defense costs for the “Vegas Four” (see David Young’s comments just beneath the second video on the preceding link).
  • had no qualms operating an allegedly-illegal bar without the required alcohol license and/or liquor permit.
  • had no qualms expelling four long-time LSTA retiree members , including at least one charter member, over their opposition to political contributions and exposing wrongdoing.  The linked article on this bullet point also indicates that, while active troopers who were adversely impacted by the 2016 flood received a $1,000 check from the LSTA, retiree members who also were adversely impacted received nothing.

Regarding Mr. Young, the previously-referenced, gun-slinging LSTA Executive Director, he made the following infamous statement about the LSTA being unable to survive if political contributions are not permitted.  Let’s take just a few seconds to watch that statement that will live in infamy:

 
Former LSTA Executive Director David Young flatly says the LSTA will “go away” if political campaign contributions are not permitted.

Well, as the old saying goes, “all good things come to an end.”  Based upon what numerous retired state troopers tell us, it is up for debate how long one has to go back to find the last time they’re willing to refer to the LSTA as a “good thing.”

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