Here’s a local scandal which has now gone statewide, and it reveals more or less all…
There were additional calls for an investigation into the local council on aging director Tuesday.
This time, the requests were from members of an organization that includes people of similar positions for groups across the state. Those who spoke with WBRZ are concerned about the actions of East Baton Rouge Council on Aging Director Tasha Clark Amar.
Becky Bergeron is the president of the Louisiana Council on Aging Director’s Association. LACOADA meets three times a year to advocate for the elderly. The organization includes all 64 directors of council on aging groups from all parishes in the state. Members are watching the situation involving Plummer’s will closely.
“It should be up to the Governor’s Office of Elderly Affairs to investigate the allegations,” Bergeron said.
It is concerning to Bergeron and others, she said, since both Clark Amar benefits from the will drawn up by Jackson, who is also a council board member. The will stated that Clark Amar shall pay herself $500 per month for the next 20 years to act as a trustee over Plummer’s estate.
And what ought to be investigated?
The Investigative Unit has learned around this time last year, LACOADA hosted an ethics training session for the 64 council on aging directors around the state. What they learned was clear, nothing of monetary value could be taken or accepted from their clients or seniors at their centers.
“Whatever we took – we could take a meal sitting face to face with them – but nothing you can monetarily walk away with,” Bergeron recalled.
Bergeron said Clark Amar attended the training.
Bergeron said she and other council on aging directors disagree with Clark Amar’s involvement in the will and added her actions have caused a blemish on the good work similar organizations perform around the state.
“I’m concerned about the negative impact it makes for the council on aging across Louisiana,” Bergeron said. “Especially right before the legislative session.”
So obviously the governor is concerned about this and he’ll have the Office of Elderly Affairs get right on it…right?
In a statement provided to WBRZ Tuesday night, the governor’s office says it will leave the investigation in the hands of the East Baton Rouge Council on Aging.
“The governor’s office has no involvement and any decisions rest solely with the East Baton Rouge Council on Aging’s Board that governs their operations,” the statement read.
That means Dorothy Jackson, who drew up the will in question, will be a part of the governing body that makes a final decision in the investigation.
Nothing much good happens when the foxes run the henhouse.
Why would John Bel Edwards take a hands-off approach to this when state law explicitly gives him the purview to handle this case? John Bel Edwards can pull the EBRCOA’s charter, for crying out loud, with a stroke of his pen. That means he’s responsible for sanctioning what goes on there. It means his inaction says he’s OK with a Council on Aging director writing herself into the wills of the old people who go there for assistance.
We’re saying “wills,” rather than “will,” because we have no assurance that Helen Plummer was the only victim of this scam. There could be dozens of marks out there. After all, Tasha Clark Amar sure seemed to have her ducks in a row when it was time to become the executrix of the Plummer estate – she had someone at Southern University’s Elderly Law Center standing by to dummy up a will, and she had an attorney on her board at the ready to notarize the will. And she also knew to call the family the day after Helen Plummer died in order to start her show and earn that $500 per month before the body was even cold. That seems to suggest an established practice, and we wouldn’t be surprised to find out this wasn’t the first time Amar had spun her COA job off into a side business.
Try not to be surprised by this, though. Edwards is taking a hands-off approach rather than doing his duty of oversight – not only is he not threatening to pull EBRCOA’s charter, he’s not even going to investigate – for the same reason Denise Marcelle, Ted James, Pat Smith and Regina Barrow were among the cabal of politicos gathered at City Hall in Baton Rouge Monday in support of Amar.
Tasha Clark Amar doesn’t run a Council on Aging. She runs a taxpayer-funded political machine. EBRCOA is a get-out-the-vote engine for the Louisiana Democrat Party in Baton Rouge, and a pretty good one. She feeds some 8,000 people a day, which means she has a direct line on that many votes PLUS all of those family members, and if the Baton Rouge Metro Council votes to go forward in levying that $8 million property tax hike the voters narrowly passed in November she’ll be able to feed close to 20,000 people. And if you think anybody gets a meal on wheels from the EBRCOA without also getting a sample ballot from its Save Our Seniors PAC when it’s election time, you’re not paying attention.
In case you’re not familiar with this, here’s the endorsement sheet they distributed for last year’s elections…
Amar even had EBRCOA pay to print and mail that flyer, which is of course a gross violation of state election law. Anybody doing anything about that? Of course not. Why would they?
Democrats are about one thing, and one thing only. They’re about turning out their people to vote in elections. Everything else – everything else – comes second.
John Bel Edwards is going to be on that endorsement sheet in 2019. He wants it to go to as many clients of EBRCOA as is possible. If Amar goes, there is no guarantee it’ll be the 20,000 they’re all hoping for. Ergo, John Bel Edwards will not do a blessed thing to put a stop to Tasha Clark Amar’s scam.
This is what the voters elected back in 2015, because David Vitter’s ancient personal misbehaviors offended many of their scruples. Elections have consequences, and this is one.