When Leo Honeycutt’s long-awaited authorized biography of former four-term Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards hit the bookshelves in late 2009, Trina Scott bought a copy.
Edwards was convicted in federal court of scheming to rig riverboat casino licenses during his last term in office, the same year Trina, who grew up in Baton Rouge, graduated from Broadmoor High School — 1996.
“I knew who he was and kind of what happened,” said Trina, adding that it wasn’t something she was very interested in at that age.
She discovered a lot of things in “Edwin Edwards: An Authorized Biography” and, when finished, came away with a surprisingly different viewpoint about Edwards. In fact, she, like thousands of others, wrote Edwards a letter telling him that, while she was a registered Republican, her opinion of him had changed as a result of the book.
“After the book came out, I got about 3,000 letters and email a week from people telling me their opinions had changed,” said Edwards. “I wanted to let them know I’d gotten and appreciated their letter, so I created a form letter that began with ‘Dear friend’ that I personalized by striking out ‘friend’ and putting their name.”
This is what he sent to Trina. She wrote back and said she was hoping for something a little more personal than a form letter. He wrote her back hoping to give her a more favorable impression of himself. In her next letter, Trina told him she lived only about 30 minutes from the prison and that she would like to visit him.
“She was smart enough to send a picture of herself,” quipped Edwards.
He made all the necessary arrangements for her to visit, and she showed up one Saturday and spent seven hours with Edwards.
“I kept hoping all the way there I wouldn’t like him — that he’d be cocky and hateful,” confessed Trina. “When he came in the door (of the visitors’ room) it was like nothing I’d ever seen before. He was going around talking to everyone. He was larger than life is the best way to explain it. When I met him, I thought he’d be like bitter or negative or angry, but he was so positive and upbeat about everything and I just … I don’t know … I was amazed by that, I guess.”
“It was like throwing a rubber raft to a drowning man,” said Edwards. “I was 80 years old, in prison and broke. She intrigued me and flattered me.”
So, for an entire year, every Saturday, Sunday and holiday, with a couple of exceptions, Trina made the trip to visit Edwards at the federal prison at Oakdale from 8 in the morning until 3 in the afternoon. They would talk about “everything and nothing” and, during the course of those extensive conversations their relationship began to evolve.
“We couldn’t do anything but get to know each other for a year,” said Trina. “I feel like I learned every detail about him. That made us a lot closer.”
Edwards had already confessed his love for her several visits back when she got ready to leave one day. As she turned at the door for one more goodbye, she found herself saying “I love you.”
“I opened my mouth to say bye and it just kind of fell out. I was wishing I could grab it and put it back in, but it was too late,” said Trina, laughing at the memory. “After that, I decided to embrace it and just go with it.”
On July 30, Trina became Edwards’ third wife in a small family ceremony at the Monteleone Hotel in the French Quarter. It took place eight days before his 84th birthday and was followed by a luncheon at Galatoire’s.
“He pretty much did everything,” said Trina, who turned 33 Aug. 19. “All I had to do was buy a dress and show up.”
“Few things are better the third time around, but this is,” added Edwards.
Trina may not have initially been familiar with many aspects of Edwards’ life, but she was aware of his reputation with women. “You’d have to really have your head in the sand not to be aware of that,” she said with a chuckle, but since a relationship wasn’t what she was looking for she didn’t give it much thought. “I’m certainly not worried about it now.”
Being the third Mrs. Edwards has thrust her into the spotlight and she seems to be taking it all in stride. The relationship is nothing like she thought it would be. Many people are naturally skeptical of the 51-year age difference between the two, but both say it is not an issue for them. “It’s difficult to explain,” said Edwards, “but it happens. We’re living proof of that.”
“It never crosses my mind unless someone mentions it,” said Trina, adding that she does understand why it might be puzzling for some people. “As far as I can tell, my children are OK with it, and as long as they’re OK with it, that’s all that really matters to me.”
Trina has two sons from a previous marriage — Logan Scott, 14, and Trevor Scott, who turns 12 Sept. 3. Logan is a student at East Ascension High School, Trevor at St. Amant Middle.
“They get along with Edwin so well. They absolutely love him,” she said, admitting she worried at first about how her sons might view the relationship.
Edwards takes an active role in the boys’ lives — picking them up from school, helping with homework, riding the neighborhood on four-wheelers and joking around with them. And yes, mom is sometimes the butt of that joke.
“He’s the most fun; everything you mention has a joke,” added Trina.
What is no joke to her are the comments made by some that she’s a bad mother for raising her children around the former governor. “If they knew us personally or spent any time around us, they would know the truth,” she said. “Some people are going to be negative and ugly no matter what.”
Edwards confessed to having “some trepidation” in helping to raise teenagers at his age. “I didn’t know what I could teach them, but they’re teaching me. I’m happy to be living with them. They’re very well-behaved, mannerly boys.”
Just as Edwards gets along with her children and family, Trina said she enjoys a good relationship with his. “It’s hard for us all to get together, but we had everyone over here for Father’s Day,” she added. “We have lunch together when we can on a fairly regular basis.”
She’s aware, too, that a lot of people think she married Edwards for money — “which he doesn’t have” — or attention but “I honestly had no idea … I knew that people might occasionally want to take a picture of me, but I had no idea how big of a deal it was going to be. It surprises me now.”
Since Edwards was released from house arrest in July, he has been touring the state with Honeycutt to promote and autograph copies of his biography. Trina has been constantly by his side. She is always surprised by people’s reaction to Edwards, by “how many people love him.” And she said it seems every person who comes up to speak to the former governor has a story to share with him — the first time they met, the first time they voted for him, how their opinion has changed as a result of reading the book.
The Edwardses both have maxed out on the number of Facebook friends allowed — 5,000, so that they’ve had to create a fan page. Just last week, someone created a Facebook page to petition President Barack Obama to pardon Edwards, so Edwards can run for governor of Louisiana one more time.
“I’m not responsible for it, but I support it,” said Trina of the pardon petition. “I’d love to see that happen.”
Touring the state for book signings and speaking engagements is just part of the couple’s busy life. They’ve begun filming for a reality TV show “pitch piece” to shop to the networks, several of which have expressed interest.
“At first I through it would bother me, I was so camera shy,” Trina said of having the cameras around. “Now it’s like they’re not even there. Most of what they’ve been filming so far was when we were out so it’s not too much of us at the house … we would of had cameras in our faces anyway.”
She’s excited about the prospect of a reality show, but said she won’t get upset if it doesn’t come to fruition.
Trina, who graduated from LSU-Alexandria last December with a degree in psychology, is also excited about attending law school, which she originally planned to begin this fall. “I hope to be known as something beside Edwin Edwards’ wife one day,” she said, adding that it does make it easier to help other people and causes because of the connections that relationship provides.
The busy schedule she and Edwards have been keeping lately has also forced her to schedule time with her friends weeks in advance, no more spontaneous get-togethers. She and her best friend even have a standing phone date for every Wednesday. Trina added that they’ve all been understanding and supportive.
The former governor is also working on a sequel to Honeycutt’s book. Focusing on the trial that sent him to prison, the book will use federal court documents, Trina said. And, while she’s seen the boxes of material, she hasn’t read through it.
Also on the newlyweds’ agenda is getting to know their Pelican Pointe neighbors better, a process that’s been hindered by their hectic schedule; doing more within their community; and traveling, including their delayed honeymoon. “He wants to go out West … I’ll follow him wherever he wants to go.”
Until then, Trina likes having the former governor’s undivided attention: “We’re together 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I think I got him in his better years.”
“One thing’s for certain, the first two weeks of this month — no one’s life has been better than mine,” offered a smiling Edwards.