Archive for the ‘Louisiana Legislature’ Category

Interest Builds for House District 12 (Lincoln, Union)

10/17/2018

Interest is beginning to build for the upcoming special election for Louisiana House District 12, made up of Union Parish and Part of Lincoln Parish.

Ruston businessman Bill Elmore and local attorney Cary Brown both have told Lincoln Parish News Online that they are contemplating a run for that office.

Neither are strangers to politics.

Brown lost narrowly in November, 2014 to John Belton in the race for District Attorney, and Elmore lost to Ronny Walker for Mayor of Ruston.

Other names rumored, but not confirmed include Jason Bullock, who ran for the seat in 2011, Andy Halbrook, a local stockbroker, and Ayres Bradford, whose wife Connie was a member of the state’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The district was formerly represented by Rob Shadoin, who recently resigned to take a job with the Louisiana Wildlife & Fisheries Commission. He was first elected in 2011, and was unopposed for re-election in 2015.

According to the Louisiana Secretary of State’s Office, the election has been set for February 23, 2019, with a runoff (if needed) on March 30.

Qualifying is January 9 through January 11, 2019.

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Court Hearing on DeSoto LACE Case

10/13/2018

DeSoto judge removes DA from investigation of possible LACE payroll abuse

By Vicki Welborn – KTBS TV3 Shreveport

DeSoto District Attorney Gary Evans and his staff are prohibited from investigating the sheriff and his deputies in connection with alleged abuses of an overtime ticket-writing program called LACE, a district judge ruled Friday following a five-hour court hearing fraught with legal wrangling.

District Judge Charles Adams based his decision on his belief District Attorney Gary Evans in the eyes of the public could not maintain the “independence and impartiality” that is required for the investigation. Adams said that was evidenced by what took place in the courtroom during the afternoon hearing.

At times contentious, the court session was punctuated by multiple but unsuccessful attempts to have the proceedings stopped and even throw Adams off the case. Motions were filed and procedures were argued before a courtroom filled with spectators.

Sheriff Jayson Richardson agreed with the ruling, saying afterwards he welcomes an investigation into “supposed wrongdoing” but wants it led by someone not associated with the district attorney’s office. Richardson contends Evans wanted to convene a grand jury weeks before next month’s special sheriff’s election in attempt to influence the outcome in favor of his preferred candidate.

Richardson and Mansfield Police Chief Gary Hobbs are vying for the remainder of the unexpired term of longtime Sheriff Rodney Arbuckle who retired earlier this year. The election is Nov. 6.

The back-and-forth about the LACE investigation sandwiched a separate but related matter that could lead to a fine or jail time for two employees of the district attorney’s office. Adams found Assistant District Attorney Cloyce Clark and chief investigator Kem Jones in contempt of court after witnesses testified seeing them taking photographs or videos in the courtroom Monday in violation of court rules.

Bailiff Brett Jones said at the judge’s order he reviewed Clark’s phone, which Clark handed to him and open to the photo album. Brett Jones said he saw four photos that had been taken of attorneys and sheriff’s office personnel inside the courtroom, but they had been recently deleted. Clark described them as “personal” pictures, and said he wasn’t aware it was wrong to take photographs in the courtroom when it was not in session.

Kem Jones refused to answer questions about the contents of his two phones, asserting his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. When he was on the stand later, Jones again refused to answer questions about the phones, which Adams has in his possession after they were returned from the Bossier City Marshal’s Office.

Clark and Jones will be sentenced at 9 a.m. Monday for the contempt of court.

Meanwhile, Assistant District Attorney Lea Hall told Adams they will appeal his ruling recusing Evans. The state Attorney General’s office will be notified about Evans’ recusal, Adams said, putting them in charge of any investigation.

Hall vigorously argued throughout the afternoon against the hearing even moving forward since at the beginning of it he filed a motion notifying the court Evans had voluntarily removed himself from any investigation of Richardson and the sheriff’s office as a whole.

But Richardson’s attorney, Michael Magner, pointed out that did not resolve the matter of the individual deputies. He maintained their belief Evans should not have any dealings with the LACE investigation, not only because of his alleged political involvement but also because his office also was part of an investigative audit involving alleged LACE payroll abuses.

At one point Hall said moving forward was “a disservice to the entire parish” and added on a personal note he considered the entire issue that’s putting the parish’s elected officials as odds as “ridicules.”

Richardson said in a court motion filed Oct. 5 that Evans was motivated by politics to present a case to the secret panel because of his friendship and support of Hobbs. Hall said during Friday’s hearing that’s an allegation Evans denies.

The motion was filed hours after Evans appeared before a group of state lawmakers in Baton Rouge who review audit findings. Evans was there to respond to findings concerning his office’s handling of LACE.

But Evans instead focused on the sheriff’s office and announced he was calling a grand jury for Oct. 8. He said theft was “rampant” in the sheriff’s office and he needed auditors to release an audit report that’s being conducted on the sheriff’s office’s LACE program.

State Auditor Daryl Purpera said he would not be pulled into politics surrounding the election and would only release the report when it’s completed, and it’s not.

A recording of Evans’ appearance before the panel was submitted during Friday’s hearing. While Evans was in the courtroom, he was not called to testify. Instead, the questions were posed to Kem Jones.

Kem Jones answered Magner’s questions about the audit findings and also reviewed copies of some of the deputies’ LACE time sheets. He said when Evans took over LACE administration he wanted more detailed time sheets. The D.A.’s office did not start paying the deputies who worked LACE until Evans began his diversion program, Jones said, adding Evans “never paid a penny to the sheriff’s office for LACE.”

The district attorney’s office does not consider itself a “victim” of LACE,” Hall noted.

LACE is a program that goes back decades that allows off-duty law enforcement officers to work traffic enforcement. Most of their time is spent on interstates targeting speeders.

Early in 2017, Evans began questioning the LACE set-up, he said after a DeSoto Parish police juror said the criminal court fund, one of the recipients of LACE ticket revenue, was losing money.

Arbuckle pulled his deputies off of LACE in June 2017. State troopers continue to work it – after a brief hiatus when the LSP commander called a halt to it to revise policies and procedures following payroll padding allegations among some troopers in South Louisiana. Evans also has a contract with the Mansfield Police Department.

Louisiana State Police Corruption Update

07/17/2018

State Police Commission delays action on Las Vegas ‘side trip’ discipline; troopers say they’ve been scapegoated

BY JIM MUSTIAN | jmustian@theadvocate.com

Three Louisiana State Police troopers disciplined last year for taking a lavish “side trip” to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon while driving to a law enforcement conference in California offered their first public remarks on the controversy during their appeal Monday before the State Police Commission.

At turns resentful and conciliatory, they said they had been scapegoated for a scandal that embarrassed the State Police and prompted the retirement last year of Mike Edmonson, the agency’s longest-serving superintendent.

The State Police Commission, after a full day of testimony Monday, deferred action on the appeal.

The commission, which acts as a civil service board for the State Police, emerged from executive session without a decision on whether to uphold, amend or overturn the demotion and the pay reduction that two of the troopers received after their taxpayer-funded excursion became public. A third trooper on the trip received a letter of reprimand but contends even that discipline was unfair.

The inaction means a decision will not be announced until next month at the earliest, when the commissioners are scheduled to meet in Monroe to hear another appeal.

The troopers insisted Edmonson not only signed off on the side trip but encouraged the troopers to take a scenic route to the annual International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference. Edmonson initially said he had not approved the trip, but text messages and phone records show he stayed in touch with the group as they drove across the country in a State Police vehicle that Edmonson wanted to have at his disposal at the San Diego conference.

The circuitous journey took the troopers hundreds of miles out of their way and included an overnight stay at a Las Vegas casino resort and a visit to the Hoover Dam.

The side trip prompted two state investigations, including a legislative audit that found Edmonson abused his power and took repeated handouts during his years at the helm of State Police.

The state Legislative Auditor’s Office found the “side trip” resulted in at least $13,000 in unnecessary taxpayer expenditures.

One commissioner, Brian Crawford, the chief administrative officer of Shreveport, resembled a prosecutor at times during the four-day hearing, referring to Edmonson’s testimony as “contradictory” and grilling the troopers on their decisions.

“I blame Col. Edmonson for most of this mess,” Crawford said. “He didn’t do you any favors. But you guys have some individual responsibility.”

Louisiana State Police Update

07/12/2018

Edmonson subpoenaed to testify in hearing on Louisiana troopers’ Las Vegas ‘side trip’

BY JIM MUSTIAN | jmustian@theadvocate.com

Mike Edmonson, the former longtime State Police superintendent, has been subpoenaed to testify at a hearing this week in which three troopers are challenging the discipline they received for taking an expensive “side trip” to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon while driving to a law enforcement conference in California.

Edmonson was out of the country Wednesday as the troopers’ appeal began in Baton Rouge, but officials said they expected him to appear before the Louisiana State Police Commission on Friday.

Edmonson, who retired amid scandal last year, has been under federal investigation for months and could invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

But his testimony could be the most critical part of the proceeding, as the troopers have maintained that Edmonson not only authorized the trip but kept in contact with them as they traversed the country in a State Police vehicle.

Two Sparta Meetings This Week

07/08/2018

Two meetings related to the Sparta Aquifer will be held this week – one in Ruston on Monday, and the other in Farmerville on Wednesday.

The Monday meeting is billed as a planning meeting and will reportedly have Louisiana Lt Governor Billy Nungesser as a guest.

Monday, July 9, Ruston City Hall, 401 North Trenton, 3:00 PM
Agenda

The Wednesday meeting is the regular quarterly meeting of the Sparta Groundwater Commission.

Wednesday, July 11, Police Jury Meeting Room, 300 E. Water Street, Farmerville, 2:00 PM
Agenda

More LACE Hijinks

06/21/2018

DeSoto sheriff blocks release of personnel files to auditors; says not related to LACE

Gary Hines & Vickie Welborn – KTBS TV3, Shreveport

The state legislative auditor, who is investigating suspected abuse of a traffic-enforcement program in DeSoto Parish, is meeting resistance from the local sheriff, who has gone to court to block a subpoena in which the auditor seeks personnel records as part of a possible expanding probe of the sheriff’s department.

The legislative auditor — who is investigating whether a group of DeSoto deputies got paid for overtime hours they didn’t work — overstepped his authority by asking for unredacted personnel records, Sheriff Jayson Richardson said in a petition filed in DeSoto District Court on Tuesday.

The subpoena, issued last week, seeks copies of the personnel files of Richardson and 12 deputies – five of whom are retired and several others who are administrative employees. Only four now-former deputies have been publicly implicated in the traffic-enforcement probe.

The investigation involves a program called LACE — Local Agency Compensation Enforcement — which has been under fire on a statewide basis as separate investigations focus on state troopers in South Louisiana suspected of padding their paychecks. One trooper made more than $200,000.

Shadoin a Snitch for the Governor?

06/05/2018

From The Hayride:

By Scott McKay

We’ve been told repeatedly by Shadoin’s Republican colleagues that House GOP delegation meetings are all but hopeless when he’s around. “We have to meet in small groups because when he’s in the delegation meetings he runs and tells the governor everything that’s said,” one complained. “We’ve gone back and forth over whether to kick him out.”

What’s shameful is Rob Shadoin’s misrepresentation of his constituents back in Ruston. District 12, which he supposedly represents, is one of the most conservative in the state. In the last four major elections in Louisiana, District 12 went 76 percent for Bill Cassidy, 64 percent for David Vitter, 75 percent for Donald Trump and 77 percent for John Kennedy. And yet Shadoin, who was on hand at Edwards’ inauguration, has put together one of the worst voting records of anyone with an “R” next to his name in the Louisiana legislature from the perspective of those conservative voters. His LABI scorecard marks indicate a pitiful 33 percent score in 2016 and a 49 percent score last year; this year isn’t likely to be any better when the final score comes out.

Shadoin Makes AFP “Takers Dozen” List

06/04/2018

Rep. Shadoin Revealed as Newest Member of AFP’s Taker’s Dozen

BATON ROUGE, La. – Americans for Prosperity-Louisiana (AFP-LA) announced the newest member of the Taker’s Dozen: Rep. Robert Shadoin.

AFP-LA State Director John Kay released the following statement:

“Rep. Shadoin has been in lockstep with his other Taker’s Dozen members raising taxes and growing the government. He can’t hide from his voting record of supporting increased taxes on small businesses, the income of hard-working Louisianans, online businesses, and an increased sales tax. We urge Rep. Shadoin to consider his constituents and vote against any tax increases as this special session winds down – they are tired of shelling out more of their hard-earned dollars to finance legislators’ reckless spending habits.”

Has Rob Shadoin Ever Voted Against a Tax?

05/26/2018

The Attempt At A Compromise Tax Bill Failed, And Here’s Where Louisiana Is With Its Budget Crisis

By Scott McKay

HB 27 by House Republican delegation chair Lance Harris, which would have raised about $369 million in tax revenue via a one-third-cent sales tax renewal and the “cleaning” – that is, removing exemptions – from sales taxes on the books, fell short of the needed 70 votes for passage with only 64.

What this vote showed, and this time, really proved beyond any credible denial, is that Edwards has no control whatsoever over his own base. It calls into question whether he even has a legislative base anymore beyond RINO Republican Rob Shadoin, who made a fool of himself by attempting to amend the bill to make it a half-cent sales tax and raise an extra $220 million in revenue. Shadoin was immediately set upon by other Republicans from the microphone, with Rep. Jay Morris asking him if he could ever remember voting against a tax increase and stumping Shadoin in the asking.

Shadoin: Keeping “temporary” Taxes is Really a Tax Cut

05/22/2018

Two years ago, the Louisiana Legislature and Governor Bel Edwards put in place a “temporary” one cent sales tax increase, set to expire 6/30/18. Guess where Lincoln Parish’s state representative comes down on this issue as the deadline approaches.