Remember Charlie Melancon? You don’t hear a lot about him these days, as the voters have put his career in elected office to pasture and he was unceremoniously dumped out of the DC/K Street lobbying universe only a few months after he attempted to enter it.
These days, Melancon works as a lobbyist at Louisiana’s state capitol, most prominently plying his trade on behalf of something called the Elevator Industry Work Preservation Fund – a front for the International Union of Elevator Constructors. Melancon has the union listed as paying him somewhere between $50,000 and $99,999 between March 1 of 2013 and now, and for that handsome sum he attempted last year to pass a bill which would have essentially forced union elevator construction contractors on Louisiana’s construction industry.
The bill died in committee without even getting a vote, but Melancon’s check apparently cashed anyway. Meanwhile, word had it that he went back to the well this year in an attempt to bring a bill requiring every elevator in the state to be inspected once a year, which would drum up a pretty penny for the union supplying the elevator inspectors. Like last year’s effort, nobody – NOBODY – thinks this 19-page specimen of cronyistic legislative buffoonery has a chance to get out of committee. And since Charlie-Boy will be 0-for-2 in delivering for the elevator union at that point, the joke around the capitol is that next year he’ll go for getting them a prestige license plate bill passed in hopes of a deliverable to justify a contract extension.
As Billy Joel would say of the value he’s providing to the union, “Is that what you get for your money?”
Given that high level of success in the field of governmental affairs, it’s no surprise Melancon doesn’t turn up in the media often. And yet yesterday, there he was – giving a few comments to John Maginnis while the pair attended Edwin Edwards’ dog-and-pony show of a congressional campaign announcement.
And Melancon, who back in the old days was an unofficial minion of Edwards’ when he held down a gig as the lobbyist for the sugar industry, apparently still has a place in his heart for the Silver Zipper…
Former Congressman Charlie Melancon of Napoleonville, a Democrat who from 2005 to 2011 represented the southern reaches of the district Edwards is running in, made an appearance as well. “People said the congressional district I ran in was a Republican district and we won. Now they’re saying this district is Republican, too. I think he’s going to do well anyway,” said Melancon. “Edwin, who created the open primary system, now gets to run in it. I think the demographics and logistics will favor him.”
Is anybody else struck by the naked hypocrisy of this?
2010 wasn’t that long ago, after all, and in 2010 when Melancon decided to forego the sketchy prospect of re-election as a congressman in order to lose to David Vitter in a U.S. Senate race, his entire campaign was based on little else but the fact that in 2001 the latter had dalliances with ladies of the evening.
Hookers, hookers, hookers.
It was over a year of non-stop, repetitive, clownshow sanctimony out of Melancon and his campaign – so much so that the voters noticed it and promptly pounded his political career into dust on Election Day. Vitter slaughtered Charlie-Boy by a 57-38 count, and when it was over he showed himself to be a bitter, petty little man.
So now, Melancon – who tut-tutted the people of Louisiana for voting to send Vitter back to the Senate in spite of his “Serious Sin,” is now palling around with Edwin Edwards and saying approving things about the old man’s campaign for Congress? A campaign, by the way, that even Bob Mann says is “shameless” and “farcical.”
Remember – Vitter’s extramarital problems were nine years old at the time Melancon tried to glom onto them as a vehicle to demonize him, and there was no evidence he’d had any others. But Charlie-Boy’s pal Edwards has not only run through two ex-wives and is now on a gold-digging failed reality-TV diva trophy bride 50 years his junior, but spent decades bragging about being a cad and boasting of his sexual prowess.
Former Edwards fixer and bodyguard Clyde Vidrine, in his 1977 book Just Takin’ Orders: A Southern Governor’s Watergate, not only mentions Melancon a few times as part of Edwards’ coterie but provides scads of detailed anecdotes about his flagrant infidelities. A quick sample (from pages 344-6)…
He likes younger girls so he tries to mix with young people as much as possible. In his opinion females 30 or above are over the hill, but he won’t pass up an easy lay. He likes to visit college campuses, and he’s made inroads among the girls his son has brought to the mansion – completely unknown to Steve himself. Edwin even made conquests of girls his son was really interested in!
Legislators often have young, impressionable girl friends, and Edwards always invites those lawmakers to the mansion – with their girls. And he’d never miss a chance to meet a beauty queen ad try his approach on her.
If a girl was 17 or 18 years old, Edwin would invite her parents to bring her to lunch at the mansion. Then, while he had a trooper take Mr. and Mrs. Momandpop around the mansion, he’d seize the opportunity to talk with the girl alone, and make a date with her.
No matter what, Edwards made sure he had someone lined up almost every day. If he didn’t have any fresh, new talent on the line, he’d call one of his previously used ones for a repeat. I have pages of phone numbers I kept track of for him, written in our own rather amateurish coding system. We simply reversed the numbers, with a 927- becoming 729-….
Edwin is full of tricks; he’s good at changing his voice when he calls a young woman who’s married. I’d say he was the cause of perhaps 60 marriages going on the rocks during the years I was close to him. I think one reason he’s never been shot or beaten up or accused publicly is because most of his affairs are hit-and-run deals; very few involve a lengthy series of “session” – and those few caused problems.
If a girl took an affair with him seriously and was broken up by being cast aside; he lost no sleep over it. I really don’t believe Edwards has any sort of feeling that could pass for conscience.
There was one very attractive young married woman he gave a state job to, who was very hard for him to seduce. He had to work at it for a long time. He’d call her into his office and have me lock his office door behind her and let no one in. Sometimes he’d keep her in there for an hour at a time, but it was quite a while before he succeeded in wearing down her resistance. Soon as he had, she broke up with her husband.
It was a shame, because the husband had tried hard to hold on to her; they had lived in a small town some distance from Baton Rouge when she got the “impossible-to-turn-down” state job, so he’d begun making the long drive twice a day, just so they could stay together.
Despite Edwin’s “quickie” tactics, it’s surprising that he hasn’t become the quarry for some big-game-hunting husband whose wife has been Edwards’ prey. One husband has won medals in track events, including javelin-throwing, and I warned the governor he might wind up being skewered like a hunk of shish-ka-bob beef.
Sex is such a mania with the man that it has to involve something more deep-seated than the primeval mating instinct. I know it’s more than an ego trip – probably a compensation for deep-seated feelings of insecurity.
It would have to be a mania for him to so frequently risk his career and ambitions for a casual copulation he could later brag about as a “nice piece of ass” or “a good lay.” At the 1972 Democratic National Convention in Miami, one of his past conquests, now a discard, was frantically trying to contact Edwin in hopes of being reinstated in his “affections” – and as if that weren’t enough, he was concentrating at that time on a new seduction – the unusually attractice wife of one of Louisiana’s state legislators! This legislator’s wife was another one whose resistance he had to wear down with repeated efforts. Every time he went into her husband’s district, he managed to talk with her. At the presidential convention, he arranged for her to spend some time with Elaine and my wife – which gave Edwin a chance to take her aside whenever Elaine was out of the way…all of this for the sake of just one more “trophy” to add to all the rest. He had no compunctions whatsoever. He wouldn’t have given a second thought to seducing the wife of his best friend (in fact he did try), and he bedded the spouse of one of his most faithful aides, who is still in his administration.
Edwards kept insisting his own wife never suspected a thing, an obvious absurdity. Elaine is no fool, she not only suspects but probably knows. On one occasion, shortly after Edwin appointed her to the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by Ellender’s death, Elaine tried all night to reach us in New York, where we were carousing with a couple of young women. She finally got word to us about an appointment to see President Nixon barely in time for us to fly down to Washington and make it to the White House with just five minutes to spare. That one had Elaine fuming like green wood on fire.
Edwin was pretty selfish, too, about not wanting anybody else to have quite the same fun he did. For a time, while I was fat and sloppy, he referred to me as his “eunuch.” He stopped using that title when I lost weight and began dressing sharply. When I had a good-looking girl and he didn’t, he was as grouchy as a brood hen. But as soon as he had a chance to show off, he was alright again.
There was the time we flew to Las Vegas for the national convention of rural electric cooperatives – Edwards only spent a few minutes at the convention, but it gave him a good excuse for the trip – and he met a Texas doctor and his young wife. The wife was a beauty, so Edwards got chummy with the doctor and even chummier with the wife. Two days later, back in Louisiana, Edwards had me borrow Billy Trotter’s plane for a quick trip to Dallas.
“What in the hell are we going to Dallas for?” I asked.
“Ohhhh…I’ve got a little something going over there,” the governor smirked.
When we got to the Adolphus Hotel in downtown Dallas, I saw what he had going – the doctor’s wife. The next day we flew back to Baton Rouge, having conducted no state business at all, just monkey business.
The book goes on and on for over two hundred pages, and it details behavior so salacious as to make the man who now styles himself as Julius Caesar crossing the Rubicon a lot more like Caligula.
Charlie Melancon was around for a great deal of Edwards’ time as governor, and as Vidrine notes Melancon was part of the gang. Everybody knew about Edwards’ infidelity, which Vidrine explains wasn’t just emblematic of some sort of open marriage between Edwin and his first wife but actually broke up other people’s marriages and ruined other people’s lives. The idea that Melancon wasn’t aware this was going on doesn’t wash.
Now, you could say that by the time Melancon was running against Vitter, Edwards was no longer in politics and therefore Charlie-Boy would have matured and recognized the harm extramarital dalliances could cause, and therefore thought it worthy as a matter of public debate. You could say that back in 2010, but you sure can’t say it now that he’s showing up to support a man whose destruction of the institution of marriage is to Vitter’s what the H-bomb is to David’s slingshot.
It takes a pretty shameless hack of a washed-up politician to ignore the blatant hypocrisy of a tacit endorsement of Edwards after giving us the broken-record routine about Vitter’s problems in 2010. But nobody should expect any different from Melancon. He’s always been a joke, and his perspective obviously hasn’t changed since he’s downgraded from U.S. Congressman to soon-to-be-looking-for-a-new-client-to-fleece lobbyist.