Our readers likely remember the rather serious controversy which took place following the 2015 gubernatorial election when it was revealed that the Louisiana State Troopers’ Association had departed from convention – and possibly from the Louisiana State Police code of conduct – to endorse John Bel Edwards for governor, and worse, it was revealed that the LSTA’s executive director David Young had been running what was more or less a money laundering operation for campaign contributions in a rather ingenious skirting of the law. Young isn’t actually a member of the state police, so the argument goes it isn’t a violation of the code for him to make those contributions even if he was being reimbursed for making them.
Needless to say it caused a rather sizable outcry when those items were revealed. Troopergate was the first hint of scandal to affect Edwards’ administration even before he was inaugurated. And Edwards responded to it by appointing Taylor Townsend, the head of his political action committee, to conduct an “investigation” into the affair. The result? As you’d expect, Townsend pocketed a $75,000 fee and then declared everything was on the up and up without even contributing so much as a written report about the affair.
But the State Police Commission was still a bit queasy over the appearance of impropriety, and for some time has been kicking over the idea to expressly ban political contributions from members and staff of the Louisiana State Troopers’ Association. That idea was put up at the LSPC meeting today, and it set off one of the most headache-inducing dog-and-pony shows we’ve seen.
We have three video clips from that hearing today.
Clip #1 comes from Young, the LSTA’s executive director whose shady activities caused this issue to arise in the first place. He says that if he was no longer allowed to push campaign money to politicians it would be the end of the association. Seriously. And no, he doesn’t offer much of an explanation for that contention…
Why would the LSTA go away? From the About Us section of the association’s web site…
The Louisiana State Troopers Association is a fraternal organization representing the men and women of the Louisiana State Police. The LSTA represents approximately 97% of the commissioned officers as well as a substantial portion of the State Police Retirees.
We are committed to improved pay and benefits; to assure a better working environment; to provide support when needed; and to increase the quality of life for our members. We also strive to improve the public services provided by our members to our community.
We are dependent on citizens like you to help us with contributions. The LSTA is organized under section 501(c)(5) of the Internal Revenue Code. We NEVER call your home for contributions. Twice a year the LSTA publishes our Trooper Magazine for our membership. If you own a business, you may receive a phone call from our advertising sales team regarding purchasing an ad. Feel free to call our office at 225-928-2000 if you would like to confirm the validity of the phone call you have received.
Perhaps the pitch is that unless the LSTA can buy political influence nobody will join it. Maybe state troopers aren’t all that fraternal anymore.
Or maybe state troopers only like to do charitable things so long as they can use the executive director of their fraternal organization as a straw donor for political contributions. You might find that as a mind-numbingly stupid suggestion, but it’s difficult to explain this otherwise, which was an example of what our buddy Robert Burns, who shot all this video for us, calls “emotional terrorism” put on display at the hearing…
She seems like a nice lady, but laying it on thick with the waterworks is a little out of place in a discussion about whether the state troopers get to become a political machine, no? It’s hard to understand the connection between the great volunteer work some of them do with St. Jude and the throwing of electoral elbows.
Maybe not that hard, though, because later in the meeting the LSTA’s lawyer Floyd Falcon gave a hint as to what’s really going on…
Got that? He’s asserting that the LSTA is an equivalent organization to the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association – which is one of the biggest political special interests in the state and an organization politicians in Louisiana fail to secure an endorsement from at their peril.
Like Robert says, though, that dog won’t hunt. He says that’s “an interesting contention given that one group, the Sheriff’s, are elected with no civil service protection whereas the other, the LSTA, is comprised of CLASSIFIED Louisiana State employees who DO have Civil Service protection (which is the purpose of the LSPC).”
What this is actually about is that the LSTA’s management wants to turn it away from being a fraternal organization and toward becoming a labor union. That’s what you get when it decides to join at the hip with a Democrat governor permanently in bed with unions.
Given the relatively recent bombshell revelations about the state police and its former head Mike Edmonson, and the persistent reports of the FBI poking around the LSTA’s activities, this organization getting sanction to play in the political space should induce a sizable migraine for the rest of us. But just in case we’re not concerned about the complete corruption of the State Police after the Edmonson revelations, we have this mess to add some file’ to the gumbo.
And it is a mess, because the outcome of the meeting was that the LSPC voted to continue allowing the laundry to keep operating and the Troopers’ Association to continue morphing into a labor union and a political machine.
This will get worse, and it’s starting to become an issue demanding some serious, aggressive reform by a new governor following the next election cycle.