Former legal precedents set the tone for future cases of misconduct and as it turns out, that is no different in the massive money funneling scheme that the Louisiana State Troopers Association has engulfed itself in, unbeknownst to its membership.
Since 2003, the Louisiana State Troopers Association (LSTA) Executive Director David Young has been a profligate donor to campaigns all across the state, across party lines, as a review of campaign records below shows. But allegations have been made that Young’s donations have been immediately reimbursed by the LSTA.
The most notable contributions are to Gov. John Bel Edwards’ campaign in his race last year against Sen. David Vitter (R-LA). At the time, the LSTA actually endorsed Edwards, something that came as a shock considering the organization had never endorsed a political candidate in its history.
Along with the endorsement, the LSTA apparently funneled a total of $10,000 to the Edwards campaign, filing the contributions under Young’s name, though Young was later reimbursed by the LSTA for that money. If the allegation of reimbursement is correct, that would make Young an illegal “straw donor” under campaign finance laws.
A whistleblower close to the LSTA said Young confirmed in a Dec. 7, 2015 meeting that he did in fact make contributions through the LSTA using his name in order to help fund the Edwards campaign.
Young’s campaign contributions date back to 2003, with over $45,000 being funneled through the LSTA, say sources connected to the organization to make political donations that the LSTA membership has been allegedly paying for.
According to a source, members of the LSTA have had no idea that this has been taking place and members who did know about the scheme have been intimidated into silence.
Just as suspected, the issue is opening up an entire slew of legal questioning as to how this could possibly not be illegal for the LSTA to do. And as it turns out, there is a legal precedent that could leave Young eyeing a hefty amount of trouble with the law.
In a case from 2001, Kenner Police Department v. Kenner Municipal Fire & Police Civil Service Board, former city police officers filed suit after they were terminated for allegedly violating a statute which prohibits political activity by civil service employees.
At the time, the 24th Judicial District Court concluded that the officers did in fact break the law by violating the stature and therefore should be terminated. But, the previously terminated officers appealed the decision.
In the appellate court, the ruling came down that the campaign contribution checks were signed by police officers as members of the executive board of the city’s police association and therefore concluded that it was personal action taken by the officers individually, rather than an action of the association.
With that, the court ruled that the officers individually endorsed and contributed to political candidates in violation of the statute prohibiting political activity by civil service employees.
Now, though the LSTA no longer follows civil service rules, they do follow the rules of the Louisiana State Police Commission and the Louisiana State Constitution, which mimic civil service rules.
Both the state Constitution and State Police Commission rules clearly clearly prohibit the LSTA and its members from “participating or engaging in political activity” be it for a state political candidate or a national political candidate. Active-duty state troopers aren’t even allowed to make social media posts about politics, much less endorse or fund political campaigns.
A request has been placed for the LSTA board to make public the reimbursement receipts that Young was apparently given by the LSTA for his political donations. However, the LSTA board has yet to do so.
To find the full list of political candidates that the LSTA has allegedly illegally contributed to, click here.
Hayride Editor in Chief Scott McKay contributed to this report.