In just the last several days, Governor John Bel Edwards has managed to make headlines in two highly politicized proceedings, one a criminal case and another an investigation which will likely lead to criminal charges being filed. In neither instance does the Governor come out well.
The first matter involves the criminal case against Tony Spell, the Baton Rouge pastor who defied the Governor’s emergency decrees by holding religious services during the pandemic. After assigning his agents to spy on Pastor Spell and his congregation, the Governor caused the good pastor to be charged no less than six times for violating said decrees. When the case recently reached the Louisiana Supreme Court, the Governor, by now acting under false pretenses, improperly sought to involve himself in the criminal proceedings between Pastor Spell and the prosecuting authority, the District Attorney of East Baton Rouge Parish.
The second matter involves the tragic death of Ronald Greene in Ouachita Parish in 2019. The officially released story was that Mr. Greene had died in the car wreck which ended a high speed police chase across several parishes. Yet recently uncovered evidence has shown beyond any doubt that John Bel Edwards was notified within hours of the tragedy that Mr. Greene had very much survived the wreck and later died in police custody. Nevertheless, the Governor continued to maintain the fiction that Mr. Greene died in a wreck for two more years, knowing full well that this was not true.
In the Spell farce, the Governor wasted huge police manpower and technical resources in order to grossly overcharge and prosecute a pastor for holding church services during a pandemic, then resorted to highly unorthodox methods in order to file questionable pleadings in Louisiana’s highest court. Conversely, in the Greene tragedy John Bel Edwards went to extraordinary lengths to cover up his lack of action in the death of an African-American man in police custody, just before a gubernatorial election in which he would need a big majority of African-American votes to have any chance of victory.
Each case illustrates the dangers of John Bel Edwards’ hyper-partisan approach to governing, but even more concerning are his repeated moral failures. The Governor has made very serious mistakes, this much we know, but it appears likely that unethical and even illegal acts have also been committed.
The Republican Party of Louisiana calls for an immediate investigation by the appropriate authorities into the Governor’s actions in both matters. Too much time has already been wasted.