Yesterday we had a post coming out of a press release by the Republican Party of Louisiana outlining four scandals emanating out of Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration which the state’s media seems to all of a sudden be interested in – including some fairly serious irregularities with Medicaid managed-care contracts, the fact that the shady operators of the controversial River Birch landfill in Jefferson Parish just dropped $200,000 on Edwards’ Gumbo PAC allies, the burgeoning disaster that is Edwards’ Restore Louisiana flood recovery operation and finally the doesn’t-quite-smell-right scheme Jim Bernhard, the former Shaw Group CEO who once chaired the Louisiana Democrat Party, cooked up with Edwards to privatize the power systems at state facilities.
That release opened a lot of eyes around the state and our post covering it got a goodly number of page views. The state GOP wasn’t finished, though, and just put out another release with stories of other scandals the state media has done less of a job covering of late…
Yesterday we covered FOUR of the scandals surrounding John Bel Edwards. (You can read Part One here.)
But you guessed it- there’s STILL MORE!
Last year, John Bel Edwards proudly announced that Wanhua Chemical planned to invest one and a quarter billion dollars in a new plastics plant in the St. James community of Convent.
Louisiana taxpayers will be paying for the privilege: Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, has pledged a cash grant of more than $4 million to the company.
Those plans were delayed this summer when it was learned that a division of the company sought trade tariff exemptions, and also wanted to have the plant property declared a foreign trade zone through the Port of South Louisiana, both of which measures could mean less tax revenue for the community.
According to analysis from The Washington Times, Kimberly Terrell, Director of Community Outreach at Tulane Environmental Law Clinic in New Orleans and a scientist by training, stated, “In its response to the Land Use Permit Appeal [to St. James Parish], Wanhua falsely claimed that neither Wanhua U.S. nor Wanhua China is owned by the Chinese government.”
However, Ms. Terrell says, “publicly filed documents contradict this claim by proving that Wanhua U.S. is 100% owned by Wanhua China, and that Wanhua China’s ‘ultimate controlling shareholder’ is a municipal government of the PRC. Like all local governments, Yantai is entirely controlled by the PRC central government and the Communist Party of China.” Wanhua even has its own Communist Party committee embedded within the company’s leadership structure.
At the same time the Trump administration is calling China “an economic enemy” and their business practices a threat to “the economic and national security of the U.S.,” John Bel Edwards has identified the People’s Republic of China as Louisiana’s “primary foreign direct investment” partner!
Earlier this month, The Washington Times reported that when John Bel Edwards visited Hollywood in October, he was seeking money, not controversy. Instead, he got both.
Universal Pictures filmed “The Hunt” in New Orleans, Louisiana, earlier this year. The studio selected the location only a few months after Democrat Gov. Edwards traveled to Hollywood to discuss Louisiana’s controversial film tax credit program and raise money for his reelection campaign. Edwards met with Universal Pictures and other studio executives in Los Angeles, California, in October 2018.
The production was for “The Hunt,” a recently canceled Universal Studios movie that depicted liberal elites hunting down “deplorables” — a phrase 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton used to describe supporters of then-candidate Donald Trump.
President Trump slammed “Liberal Hollywood” as the “true racists” and decried “The Hunt” for attempting to “inflame and cause chaos.”
Universal canceled the movie’s release, slated for Sept. 27, in the aftermath of the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.
Last summer, while John Bel Edwards was threatening to throw seniors out of nursing homes and cancel LSU Football because of the “fiscal cliff”, the State of Louisiana was forced to spend over $100,000 of taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment suit against his deputy chief of staff.
Most disturbingly, John Bel Edwards, his deputy chief of staff and their attorneys attempted to silence the victim. According to a report from NOLA.com, as part of the settlement, the woman, Anderson and the Governor’s office cannot make “disparaging remarks” about one another.
Why did John Bel Edwards ever hire Johnny Anderson as deputy chief of staff, after Anderson had previously faced claims of sexual harassment when he worked for Governor Kathleen Blanco more than a decade ago?
Earlier this summer, John Bel Edwards kicked off his campaign for reelection in his childhood hometown of Amite, Louisiana. The event was hosted by Amite Mayor Buddy Bel and emceed by Amite businessman Tom Brumfield.
Yes, this is the same Buddy Bel accused by the Amite Police Chief of cutting the power to the local evidence room and allowing it to be burglarized.
Yes, this is the same Buddy Bel who was subpoenaed by FBI investigators regarding his connection with a vote buying scheme in Tangipahoa Parish.
Yes, this is the same Tom Brumfield that was ALSO subpoenaed by federal agents regarding his involvement with the same vote buying investigation.
According to an exclusive report by The Advocate: The FBI has cast a wide net, examining parish races going back to 2011, two sources stated. Yet agents have taken a special interest in certain political operatives, including Louis Ruffino, a former mayor of Roseland who for years has offered “get out the vote” services to local candidates.
Long-time Tangipahoa Sheriff Daniel Edwards, John Bel Edwards’ brother, said he never hired Ruffino, the north shore operative who is under federal investigation. But John Bel Edwards acknowledged paying Ruffino $8,750 ahead of his 2011 re-election to the Louisiana House of Representatives to put up signs and perform other “routine campaign work”.
Shortly after John Bel Edwards moved into the Governor’s Mansion, the FBI raided his brother Daniel’s Tangipahoa Sheriff’s Department. “We are conducting multiple court authorized actions. The investigations are ongoing. We have no further comment at this time,” said Craig Betbez, public information officer for the FBI New Orleans’ office.
The Advocate reported that three of its enforcement sources said the raid is related to a broader federal investigation of a drug task force that has come under scrutiny for allegedly selling confiscated narcotics and tampering with witnesses.
The task force included several members of the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office and was led by Chad Scott, a special agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency who has been suspended from duty as a result of the probe, the newspaper reported.
According to a report from NOLA.com, the materials taken by federal agents included a computer from the office of Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff Daniel Edwards.
“It’s very unusual for the FBI to raid the office of a sitting governor’s brother, irrespective of whether he’s sheriff,” one senior law enforcement official said.
The people of Louisiana deserve better. Make Louisiana work again. FIRE John Bel Edwards.
The Tangipahoa Parish thing is something which could very well grow legs again before the election, because that case is ongoing. We would have thought more would come of it, but what we understand is nothing much will happen unless and until Chad Scott is convinced to turn state’s evidence on Edwards’ brother.
He might not do that. Scott might well choose to do time rather than get on the wrong side of the Edwardses in the event he faces conviction (which we would think is inevitable given the facts of that case).
But all of these are potential bombshells that were Edwards a Republican the state’s media he’d never hear the end of. That they aren’t fully known by the public and the source of constant browbeating is a good indication of the current state of “journalism” in Louisiana.
Let not your heart be troubled, though, because in the event Edwards loses re-election and either Ralph Abraham or Eddie Rispone replaces him in the governor’s mansion, aggressive investigative journalism is bound to make a vigorous comeback and if scandals like these should emerge on their watch they’ll be given a full airing. Count on that.