Politically, this makes sense…
Gov. John Bel Edwards on Wednesday gave a forceful defense of his brother, Tangipahoa Sheriff Daniel Edwards, whose office was raided by the FBI last week in connection with a federal drug probe.
“Without any fear of contradiction or ever being proven wrong, I will tell you now, he did not engage in anything improper, much less illegal,” Gov. Edwards told reporters gathered at the Governor’s Mansion for an end-of-year news conference. “I have all the confidence in the world in that, and I think that time will bear that out.”
Gov. Edwards added that he doesn’t “have much information about what they were looking for, why they chose to operate in the manner that they did.”
It makes sense because if the Governor is wrong and his brother is actually implicated in the FBI probe of the Tangipahoa Sheriff’s Department – and let’s be honest, when the feds roll in like an invading army with guns unholstered and bullet-proof vests on, and then proceed to treat his office as a crime scene while stuffing his computer in an evidence bag, it’s a stretch not to assume he’s implicated, then the political damage it will do to John Bel Edwards’ re-election is probably going to be more severe than he could ever hope to repair. After all, the Edwards family has had a stranglehold on that sheriff’s department for the better part of the last half-century, if not more; if it turns out the corruption therein goes all the way to the top he’s going to have a lot of explaining to do.
And when you’re explaining, you’re losing.
Besides, you’d expect someone in his position to rally around his family. That’s more attractive than not. He might as well go all in defending the kin, whatever the political consequences – which in this case favor this decision anyway.
And this wouldn’t be much of a story but for two points that can’t really be avoided. First, if John Bel wants to assert Daniel is squeaky-clean, then he’s going to at some point answer the question why Daniel had such a cozy friendship with Chad Scott, the suspended DEA agent at the center of the probe into allegations that Scott and his confederates, at least two of whom were Tangipahoa sheriff’s deputies just like Scott was, were stealing drugs out of evidence lockers and selling them on the street (among other things).
And second, JBE could come to regret the central premise of his 2015 gubernatorial campaign, in which he asserted that he lived by the West Point honor code, to wit: a cadet will neither lie, sheat nor steal, nor tolerate those who do. If it turns out today’s protestations fly in the face of facts which later come out about his brother, or even his personal knowledge of events surrounding the probe, and you can let your imagination run wild as to just how bad this can get, the “Governor Honor Code” jokes will quickly become legion.
And at that point it won’t be a question whether Edwards can win re-election. It will be a question whether he even lasts to the end of his term, and whether we end up with a Gov. Nungesser running as an incumbent, rather than a Gov. Edwards, in 2019.