DOA’s Dardenne stonewalls our attempts to verify $1.12 million and $246,000 respective defense costs for Painter, delaHoussaye civil suits, but we’ll just piggyback on Zach Parker’s Ouachita Citizen mandamus for similar public records request.

Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne, who was sued on September 3, 2019 for blocking the release of attorney invoices to Ouachita Citizen reporter Zach Parker.

During a Republican forum for Louisiana Governor held on Thursday, September 5, 2019, businessman Eddie Rispone (R-Baton Rouge) responded to a question entailing how he would go about reining in Louisiana’s runaway spending pattern established during the administration of current Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards (D-Amite).  We’d like to present his response, and we wish to draw particular attention to what he says from the 0:40 – 1:20 mark of this brief video:

Rispone, from the 0:40 – 1:20 mark of the video above, stresses exactly the extent to which Gov. John Bel Edwards’ Commissioner of Administration, Jay Dardenne, has stonewalled the “Louisiana Checkbook” initiative.

We at Sound Off Louisiana can testify first-hand to the accuracy of Rispone’s commentary regarding Dardenne’s stonewalling!

As long-time subscribers are well-aware, we have followed both the criminal cases and the ensuing civil litigation of former Alcohol and Tobacco Commissioner Murphy Painter and former FBI informant Corey delaHoussaye.  We won’t rehash details of those cases on this post, but we welcome our newer subscribers to get up to speed by reading (and watching Inspector General Stephen Street’s utterly embarrassing performance) after first clicking on this link.

Suffice to say for purposes of this feature that Street’s criminal prosecution of both men collapsed in absolutely spectacular fashion, and he cost Louisiana taxpayers (and in the case of Painter, U. S. taxpayers as well) a staggering amount of money in the process.

In fact, for Painter, Louisiana taxpayers had to fork over $400,000 to Painter for his defense costs as he was acquitted on all 29 counts of misuse of a criminal database.  Two of those counts were for obtaining the mailing addresses of two lobbyists for the alcohol industry in order to mail them sympathy cards upon the passing of their mother (no, that’s not a joke)!  Those counts resulted in the late Federal Judge James Brady inquiring outside the presence of the jury, and this is a verbatim question posed to  the U. S. Attorneys:  “That rises to the level of a Federal offense?”  The U. S. Attorney’s prosecution costs most certainly exceeded $1 million as computer experts were flown in from San Diego to testify, numerous witnesses from out-of-state, expert witness fees, etc.

While delaHoussaye’s criminal prosecution likely cost a small fraction of Painter’s, that case too was a total joke and collapsed in an even bigger fashion than Painter’s as delaHoussaye (who was a confirmed FBI informant) was never even indicted!

As just about every Sound Off Louisiana subscriber knows by now, founder Robert Burns is an extremely harsh critic of Inspector General Stephen Street.  In Burns’ opinion, Street’s lack of any backbone to stand firm and indicate to his superiors (essentially whomever is Governor) that he is not going to prosecute hopeless cases simply to accommodate political vendettas (Painter for refusing to grant a liquor license which entailed an illegal $300,000 exclusivity payment to the venue to serve only Budweiser beer and delaHoussaye for reporting $58 million in FEMA fraud) is costing taxpayers through the nose.

Both Painter and delaHoussaye sued Street and the Office of Inspector General.  Both suits have dragged on for an extensive period of time.  In fact, Painter’s suit has entailed about 18 hearings for peremptory exceptions, etc., and, despite the suit being eight years old, at this stage there still has not even been an answer filed.  In short, the law firm of Taylor Porter, which is a political campaign donating machine, has been like a pig in slop scooping up absolutely massive amounts of Louisiana taxpayer dollars defending Street.

To that end and upon us obtaining what we believe to be credible verbal representations that Street’s civil defense costs pertaininig to Painter now total $1.12 million and delaHoussaye’s civil defense costs now total $246,000, we sought to confirm the figures by making public records requests of Jay Dardenne and the Division of Administration (the same one that Rispone is none too complimentary of in the video above).  Specifically, we have sought to examine the legal invoices so we could add up the dollar amounts ourselves.  Let’s present our public records request below and DOA’s initial response:

Soon thereafter, DOA followed up its initial response with the following flat rejection of our request:

We replied back indicating that DOA could redact out everything except the hours, hourly rate, and extension (i.e. we just want the costs figures). Here’s that request:

DOA responded by digging in its heels as demonstrated by this follow-up to our modified request:

Fortunately for us, Ouachita Citizen reporter Zach Parker seeks substantially similar records for legal services pertaining to an update to features he has published.  Like us, his quest began with his initial request.  Just like us, he got the same identical generic response back.  Again, just like us, he got the same identical follow-up response.

Unlike us, however, Parker then utilized the legal services of Scott Sternberg to send Dardenne and DOA a demand letter indicating a drop-dead date of August 30, 2019 for an indication that the records would be forthcoming.  Just like us, Sternberg indicated a willingness for Parker to accept redacted invoices so that merely the dollar amounts would be available for tabulation.  We want to highlight Sternberg’s final commentary in his demand letter:

When DOA failed to indicate a willingness to provide the records by the August 30, 2019 date, Parker filed a Writ of Mandamus on September 3, 2019 seeking to force DOA to provide him with the requested records.  The next day, September 4, 2019, Judge Trudy White, to whom the case was assigned, set the matter for hearing as demonstrated in the following order:


We were informed late Tuesday (September 10, 2019) that the hearing has been rescheduled for Monday, September 16, 2019.  We will be there, and we are obviously pulling strongly for Parker and the Ouachita Citizen to prevail in order that we can tabulate the defense cost figures for Painter and delaHoussaye after we get our invoices upon Parker getting his.

We go out of our way to try and substantiate anything we’re told verbally, and we really don’t like even reporting numbers which have not been substantiated.  In this instance, however, we’re making an exception and publishing what we’ve been told are the approximate figures for Painter and delaHoussaye.  We welcome our subscribers to take them at face value given DOA’s staunch stonewalling in permitting us to verify the figures.

As for Rispone’s commentary in the video above from the 0:40 – 1:20 mark, he could not possibly be more spot-on if he tried, and the bottom line, as Rispone likely knows, is that they don’t want taxpayers knowing how much money loose cannons like Street are costing us.  After all, all we do is pay the freaking bills via our tax dollars!  The very nerve of us thinking we may have a right to scrutinize all the attorneys at the legal pig-slop trough, especially the extent to which some may be at that trough benefitting from past political campaign contributions.

If you would like to be added to our Sound Off Louisiana email list to be notified of future posts, simply go to our home page and scroll to the bottom (mobile devices) or to the top of the right-hand column (desktops).  Supply your email address within the subscribe box.  You’ll then receive an automated email from Word Press, and all you have to do is click on the blue “confirm follow” bar contained within that email, and you’ll begin receiving great posts such as the preceding one above.

Rispone (on occupational licensing): “I understand what they’re trying to do. They’re trying to restrict competition……and we’re going to stop that and phase them all out!”

Baton Rouge businessman and Republican candidate for Louisiana Gov. Eddie Rispone.

U. S. Congressman and Republican candidate for Louisiana Gov. Ralph Abraham.

On Thursday, September 5, 2019, the 6th District Coalition of Republican Women sponsored a forum featuring the two Republican candidates for Governor of Louisiana:  Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone and U. S. Congressman Ralph Abraham.

Eight questions were posed to the candidates individually (i.e. one candidate responded to four questions and the other candidate responded to another four questions).  The two candidates drew numbers for the questions from a hat.

Eddie Rispone just so happened to draw the question which Sound Off Louisiana and many of its subscribers who hold occupational licenses consider by far the most relevant to them, which is Louisiana’s very high ranking for licensing occupations which many other states don’t.

Let’s take a look at Rispone’s response, which followed forum moderator Daniel Erspamer (CEO of the Louisiana-based Pelican Institute) first laying the foundation for the significant economic harm which has been inflicted upon Louisiana’s economy by many of these occupational licensing boards and commissions:

Republican candidate and Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone responds to Erspamer’s question regarding the adverse economic impacts of Louisiana’s occupational licensing boards and commissions.

We at Sound Off Louisiana could not be more pleased with the emphatic statement of Rispone above!  We would like to point out, however, that, as a result of the format of the forum, Abraham was not provided with an opportunity to weigh in on his sentiments regarding occupational licensing in Louisiana.  In fairness to him, a similar question was posed of him in February, and his response was very similar to Rispone’s above.

We want to thank the 6th District Coalition of Republican Women for their hard work in sponsoring this forum, and we’d like to encourage everyone to view the forum in its entirety by clicking here.

Let us conclude by strongly encouraging everyone to vote for either businessman Eddie Rispone or U. S. Congressman Ralph Abraham on October 12 (voting for either assists in blocking Edwards from reaching 50% and winning in the primary) and, thereafter, voting for whichever candidate makes the runoff against Edwards.

In our firm opinion, it is absolutely critical that one of these two gentlemen be elected as the next Louisiana Governor in order to revive Louisiana’s struggling economy by removing the types of barriers referenced by Rispone above, lowering business taxes, and instituting tort reform (Abraham drew that question, and we welcome subscribers to view it at the link above).

In short, we absolutely must make changes to keep our businesses from leaving the state due to outrageous insurance premiums, reverse Louisiana’s severe outmigration issue, and tear down barriers to people making an honest living by removing protectionist propensities of Louisiana’s occupational licensing boards and commissions.

Since none of these developments are remotely possible under another four years of Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, in our opinion, re-electing him to another four years would be nothing short of an unmitigated disaster!

If you would like to be added to our Sound Off Louisiana email list to be notified of future posts, simply go to our home page and scroll to the bottom (mobile devices) or to the top of the right-hand column (desktops).  Supply your email address within the subscribe box.  You’ll then receive an automated email from Word Press, and all you have to do is click on the blue “confirm follow” bar contained within that email, and you’ll begin receiving great posts such as the preceding one above.

With former LSP Col. Edmonson now “cleared,” could a criminal probe shift to focus on Col. Reeves as a result of findings in former LSPC Member Braxton’s civil litigation against the LSTA?

LSP Col. Kevin Reeves

Not long back, as everyone is aware, former LSP Col. Mike Edmonson was “cleared” of any wrongdoing by the group of political hacks serving on the State Board of “Ethics.”  They are all appointed by the Governor so, despite WBRZ’s Chris Nakamoto rushing out with “breaking news,” the only thing “breaking” about it was that it took the Ethics Board so long to go through its perfunctory dismissal.  The surprise-to-nobody “clearing” could have been accomplished far more efficiently had the matter been handled by the ultimate puppet of the Governor’s Office, Inspector General Stephen Street, Jr., who, as evidenced by the preceding link and despite being a CPA, does such a piss-poor job of managing his own personal finances that he would have Federal tax liens filed for three consecutive years prior to his appointment (not to mention a tiny occupational licensing lien of a lousy $500 to East Baton Rouge Parish that he also couldn’t pay).

So, with any so-called “investigation” of Edmonson by the ultimate patsies at the State Board of Ethics, which released its “findings” coincidentally 59 days prior to the primary election wherein the Governor who appointed them, Gov. John Bel Edwards, seeks re-election, out of the way, let’s proceed on to another intriguing matter.  Despite the dismissal action being clearly designed to blunt any effort by Edwards’ two Republican opponents, businessman Eddie Rispone (R – Baton Rouge), and U. S. Congressman Ralph Abraham (R – Alto) being able to deploy Edmonson as a means of attack, Edmonson’s attorney, former Ethics Board attorney Gray Sexton, spoke way, way, way beyond any authority he had in declaring Edmonson “cleared of any criminal wrongdoing,” and, fortunately, WAFB (Channel 9 in Baton Rouge) was quick to check with Federal prosecutors, who rightly “declined comment” on the topic of whether Edmonson may remain under Federal investigation for wrongdoing.

So, whether  Edmonson is “cleared of wrongdoing” by any entity beyond the aforementioned group of political-hack appointees or not, let’s move on to what is likely to be a far, far more intriguing topic.  That topic is whether material gleaned from the discovery phase of the civil suit of former Louisiana State Police Commission (LSPC) member Calvin Braxton against the Louisiana State Trooper’s Association (LSTA) and a gentleman named Jay Oliphant may be about to cause Federal prosecutors to launch an investigation into current LSP Col. Kevin Reeves that may have the potential to extend to Gov. John Bel Edwards himself.

On April 22, 2019, we conducted a deep dive into a whole plethora of LSP-related litigation.  About four minutes of the video accompanying that feature dealt exclusively with Braxton, so let’s present just that small segment of the video again at this time:

Burns reviews the Braxton litigation back on April 22, 2019.

Let us not forget that the primary defendant in Braxton’s civil lawsuit, the LSTA , is the same entity having recently gained significant media attention when its former Executive Director, David Young, “retired” after firing a gun outside LSTA headquarters while chasing down his daughter’s boyfriend.  That would also be the same David Young who agreed to illegally funnel campaign cash into Gov. Edwards’ campaign account (along with other politicians) by writing personal checks himself to the campaign and then being reimbursed by the LSTA for those contributions.  That’s a practice which former LSPC Member and then-Braxton colleague, Lloyd Grafton, referred to as “straight up money laundering.”

The LSTA is also the same entity which, though subscribers have read and viewed it only on Sound Off Louisiana because other media outlets have chosen to ignore it, has sued the LSPC claiming it has a “constitutional right” to contribute to political campaigns notwithstanding the civil service nature of the LSP troopers it represents.  It’s also the same entity which saw fit to exploit the fates of children suffering from cancer by having executives of agencies providing help to those children indirectly (and likely unknowingly) plead with the LSPC for the LSTA to be able to make political campaign contributions.

Now that we’ve adequately provided a thumbnail sketch of the dubious nature of the LSTA itself, let’s proceed to Braxton’s litigation and the role it may end up having in launching brand new criminal probes into the LSTA, its officers, Col. Reeves, and potentially Gov. John Bel Edwards himself.

Braxton is suing the LSTA and Jay Oliphant for defamation.  Specifically, he alleges that the LSTA, in concert with Oliphant, made statements which he states are categorically false when it drafted, through its attorney, Floyd Falcon,  this letter with accompanying incident report (drafted by Oliphant but with oversight and email exchanges with Reeves, who was over patrol for the applicable region) to Gov. Edwards essentially demanding that Edwards take action to remove Braxton from the LSPC.  Rather than us state via written text what Braxton alleges, let’s allow his attorney, Jill Craft, do that heavy lifting for us, and we STRONGLY want viewers to pay close attention to what Craft states between the 1:15 – 1:31 mark of the following video entailing Craft’s statement and reporter Katy Moore of New Orleans’ WWL-TV’s immediate follow-up question and Craft’s response to same:

Craft comments on Oliphant’s alleged fears of Braxton and Braxton’s contention that he was the victim of a smear campaign orchestrated by the LSTA designed to have him removed from the LSPC.

Let’s repeat Craft’s statement, Moore’s follow-up question, and Craft’s response:


This report is authored and generated six and a half months later, and we understand was generated at the behest of the State Trooper Association.


Do ya’ll have any proof of that?


We’ll have to see, now won’t we?

When Sound Off Louisiana founder Robert Burns served as a fraud investigator for the RTC and FDIC, his role was not to go into a failed S & L (or bank) and search for criminal conduct.  Instead, Burns’ role, as was the case with the other fraud investigators, was to investigate activities (most especially lax loan underwriting standards or failure to follow policies or regulations regarding loan-to-value, etc.) for the purpose of filing a civil lawsuit against the failed institution’s officers and directors or filing a claim against the insurance company which supplied D & O (director and officer) insurance coverage.

That fact notwithstanding, it was quite common for the fraud investigators like Burns to be the initiators of criminal probes by the FBI over an institution’s collapse because, in delving into management’s actions, often criminal acts readily surfaced.  When they did, Burns or another fraud investigator was responsible for filing what is known as an FBI criminal referral (along with supporting documentation) in making a recommendation for a criminal probe to be initiated by the FBI.  It would then be up to the FBI to make the decision and, if the agency decided to pursue, Burns often then worked side-by-side with FBI agents to help substantiate that fraudulent, criminal acts did in fact take place (Burns most often drew now-retired FBI agent Greg Fee as his partner for such pursuits).

The preceding paragraph is analogous to what has transpired in the Braxton civil litigation.  At this point, with depositions likely having either wrapped up or nearly wrapped up, both defense attorneys for the Attorney General’s Office (involved because of Oliphant being named as a defendant) and those of the LSTA (i.e. Floyd Falcon) along with Braxton’s attorney, Jill Craft, likely know at this stage of the game whether or not the LSTA and Oliphant did or did not “fabricate” the linked incident report referenced above.

If such a fabrication did in fact take place, that most certainly constitutes criminal activity that would warrant the equivalent of an FBI criminal referral.  Here are a few observations that cause us to believe that such evidence may very well have been uncovered during the discovery depositions which Burns references in the first video above that he would buy tickets to attend:

1.  The staggeringly long (6.5 months as referenced by Craft) delay in preparing the incident report.

Common sense dictates that no report should be prepared that long after the incident and, furthermore, we’ve heard from retired LSP troopers that an incident report should have been prepared within 24 hours and 48 hours at the latest.

The timing of the report coincides with Braxton expressing concerns about the illegal political contributions and other matters pertinent to former LSPC Executive Director Cathy Derbonne’s processing of complaints which she’d received from retired LSP troopers (who, coincidentally, had their LSTA memberships permanently revoked for filing the complaints) entailing not only the illegal campaign contributions but also the illegality of three LSPC members’ appointments under then-Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Regarding those appointments, Gov. Edwards’ Super PAC head, T. Taylor Townsend, was quoted in a report he drafted on the matter as stating, “absent voluntary resignation, I see no alternative but for the Governor (Edwards) to call a hearing to have these members removed.”

We find it quite ironic that Edwards was so aggressive to remove Jindal’s appointees, but he has not even given the slightest hint of how his administration plans to handle retired LSP Trooper Leon “Bucky” Millet’s complaint regarding alleged illegal campaign contributions entailing three of his own appointees despite the Constutionally-provided timeframe in which he should have acted having now long since lapsed!

The bottom line is that it defies logic for Jay Oliphant to simply fall out of bed one morning and decide, 6.5 months after-the-fact, that, “You know what.  I don’t have anything better to do today.  I think that, just for kicks, I’ll draft an incident report on that guy Calvin Braxton from six months ago.”

2.  Col. Reeves’ baffling moves of promoting Oliphant not once, but TWICE, after Oliphant drafted the incident report (and despite making a Facebook post in likely violation of LSP Policy).

Reeves’ moves sure look to us like a huge “thank you” to Oliphant and, combined with the fact that Oliphant soon thereafter signed off on a lateral transfer of Reeves’ son, Kaleb, to a detective position far faster than has historically been the case for State Trooper Joe Blow literally stinks to high heaven.

Specifically, Reeves promoted Oliphant to Region 3 Major on June 27, 2017.  The timing of that promotion alone, which comes a MERE 14 DAYS after Reeves was named Colonel, should make any investigator’s antenna shoot sky high.  In fact, given what we’ll present in item # 3 below, one can only question if Reeves being named Colonel was not, in reality, Gov. Edwards rewarding Reeves for his role in getting the problematic Braxton (at least from the LSTA’s perspective) off the LSPC!  As if that’s not bad enough, Reeves then escalates Oliphant yet again, with the second promotion being to a highly-prestigious position of Lieutenant Colonel (of which only five such positions exist within LSP) as “deputy Superintendent of Patrol.

Consider this: We know that Edwards was under intense pressure to appoint Murphy Paul as the new LSP Colonel, yet he chose instead to appoint Reeves.  By appointing Paul, Edwards surely could have assuaged some of the rampant concerns we consistently hear regarding LSP that it has historically had anti-minority factions within its upper echelon.  Nevertheless, appointing Reeves apparently trumped assuaging those concerns.  Could it be that the LSTA was lobbying hard for Reeves as a result of his role in helping procure Braxton’s ouster, which we now know the LSTA desperately wanted?

As if the above actions on Reeves’ part don’t provide reason for an extremely high level of suspicion, Reeves granted this double promotion despite Oliphant’s inappropriate posting of the following Facebook post entailing Braxton:


3.  Gov. Edwards’ inexplicable sitting on the damning report of Braxton for a year before taking action, and then taking action ONLY upon Fox8’s Lee Zurik exposing it.

Fox 8 investigative reporter Lee Zurik really hammered Matthew Block, Gov. Edwards’ Executive Counsel (as did WWL’s Moore) entailing why in the world Edwards sat on the damning incident report and letter from the LSTA for over a year.  Neither Block nor Edwards had anything remotely resembling a good answer.

If, after all, Braxton DID in fact indicate that LSP Trooper Linebaugh (who made the arrest of Braxton’s daughter for DWI), “needs to be reassigned to New Orleans for 90 days to get his head screwed on straight,” or throw his weight around in stating to Oliphant that members of the LSPC and their families are “not to be touched,” then why in the round world would Edwards want someone like that serving on the LSPC?  Why would anybody for that matter?

The reality is that the “getting a head screwed on straight” via a 90-day assignment to New Orleans sounds much more to us like something that would come out of the mouth of then-LSP Col. Mike Edmonson.  He certainly had the pompous attitude and God-like mentality that would cause us to believe that words like that could certainly be uttered by him!  Further, he actually had the authority to do it (litigation which may arise from same notwithstanding).  Wouldn’t it be something if it was actually Edmonson, being the political animal that he has always been, in an effort to curry favor with an LSPC member (Braxton), who made the utterance rather than Braxton?

Whatever the case may be, the undeniable truth is that Edwards did in fact sit on that material for over a year, and he took action after that year only because the LSTA contacted Zurik and forced his hand on the matter via Zurik’s highly-publicized feature.  That indisputable fact is beyond bizarre!

The only logical explanation entailing why Edwards sat on that report and did nothing entailing Braxton is that Edwards knew that the report had been fabricated at the behest of the LSTA and he therefore ignored it and stood by Calvin Braxton as an LSPC member!  That is the ONLY explanation that makes any sense whatsoever and, for obvious reasons, Edwards certainly couldn’t respond with that answer (i.e. the truth that the incident report was a fabrication) to several investigative reporters, so Block merely indicated to Moore that Braxton “may” end up having to resign.

4.  The mystery surrounding Braxton’s “resignation.”

Days after the revelation of the damning incident report was plastered all over news outlets in Louisiana, the Edwards administration announced that Braxton had “done the right thing and resigned.”  Braxton was quoted as saying that he did so because all of the negative publicity was affecting his family and the perception of him in the business community.

We were a tad curious about the speed with which this “resignation” took place, so we made a public records request to see a copy of Braxton’s resignation letter.  The only thing the Edwards administration could supply us with was its own press release.

Wouldn’t it be interesting if Braxton’s resignation itself was manufactured the same way he asserts the incident report was?  Under that scenario, Braxton may have simply found out he “resigned” via the press release.  If that were the case, when reporters called Braxton for a quote on his “resignation,” well, he had to say something quick and on-the-fly, huh?

Similarly, if the incident report was largely fabricated, perhaps that’s why Braxton appeared to be the ultimate deer-in-headlights when Zuric blindsided him with that incident report and its contents!

Calvin Braxton is widely acknowledged as a successful businessman.  He also readily admits that he likes to visit casinos from time to time and, shall we say, drop an amount that most folk would consider a decent chunck of change and not even blink an eye.

At this stage of the proceedings in the Braxton civil litigation, both Braxton’s attorney and all defense attorneys know whether Braxton is holding a pair of deuces and has been bluffing, or whether he’s holding a royal flush.

Given all the bizarre material we’ve presented above, our money says Braxton is sitting on a royal flush.  If he is, the only big question is whether a criminal probe ensues for a false incident report being knowingly filed.

One would hope that, given LSP’s role as a law enforcement agency, should the FBI obtain credible evidence that such a falsification did in fact occur, U. S. Attorney Brandon Fremin would take strong interest and indictments be pursued.  Given that this is Louisiana, however, we wouldn’t be surprised for any such evidence to be handed to Inspector General Street, who, after conducting a thorough sham investigation, will simply pull out his patented letter stating, “We find no evidence of wrongdoing,” change the date and title of that letter, and keep the corruption train in Louisiana moving right on down the tracks and destroying Louisiana citizens’ lives and cementing our state’s reputation as one of the most corrupt in the nation in the process!

If you would like to be added to our Sound Off Louisiana email list to be notified of future posts, simply go to our home page and scroll to the bottom (mobile devices) or to the top of the right-hand column (desktops).  Supply your email address within the subscribe box.  You’ll then receive an automated email from Word Press, and all you have to do is click on the blue “confirm follow” bar contained within that email, and you’ll begin receiving great posts such as the preceding one above.