In January of last year, we reported that members of the Louisiana State Trooper Association were caught illegally funnelling money to political campaigns. A member of the LSTA would make a political donation in their own name and then the LSTA would reimburse them for the donation. It’s a violation of state law for the LSTA to be involved in elections and active duty state troopers are not even allowed to comment on politics on social media, let alone back candidates.
Among the politicians who benefitted from the illegal donations were John Bel Edwards.
In April, Troopergate claimed its first scalps when three members of the Louisiana State Police Commission resigned over their roles in the scandal. In September, we discovered that the man who investigated Troopergate was a John Bel Edwards fundraiser himself. The three who resigned in April were likely scapegoats to allow John Bel Edwards to appoint three people of his choice to the LSPC.
Yesterday, after a series of closed-door meetings, the Director of the Louisiana State Police Commission resigned. Cathy Derbonne’s resignation was an attempt to avoid being fired over her role in Troopergate.
Cathy Derbonne issued her resignation after a series of bizarre closed-door meetings. Those private sessions were held during a break in the middle of the meeting in which board members were scheduled to discuss whether or not to fire her over controversy surrounding political contributions made by former board members.
The meeting was held at the Louisiana State Police Headquarters in Baton Rouge.
Derbonne has been at the helm of the Louisiana State Police Commission for nearly eight years.
According to its website, the mission of the State Police Commission is to provide a separate merit system for the commissioned officers of Louisiana State Police. In accomplishing this mission, the program administers entry-level law enforcement examinations and promotional examinations, processes personnel actions, issues certificates to those eligible, and schedules appeal hearings and pay hearings.
Per legal counsel, a search for a replacement will begin immediately.
The closed-door meetings were likely to designed to give Derbonne a chance to save face. A deal was likely worked out in them.
The Derbonne resignation makes John Bel Edwards look interested in clean government. But more importantly, it gives him the opportunity to appoint the director of his choice to the LSPC. A win-win for JBE.