Gov. John Bel Edwards on Wednesday gave a forceful defense of his brother, Tangipahoa Sheriff Daniel Edwards, whose office was raided by the FBI last week in connection with a federal drug probe.
"Without any fear of contradiction or ever being proven wrong, I will tell you now, he did not engage in anything improper, much less illegal," Gov. Edwards told reporters gathered at the Governor's Mansion for an end-of-year news conference. "I have all the confidence in the world in that, and I think that time will bear that out."
Gov. Edwards added that he doesn't "have much information about what they were looking for, why they chose to operate in the manner that they did."
The past year has been a tumultuous one for Daniel Edwards, the fourth-term sheriff of Tangi…
The FBI raided the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office, as well as the Hammond Police Department, last Thursday, as part of a U.S. Justice Department investigation of a federal drug task force linked to officers suspected of stealing drugs and cash that had been seized during narcotics investigations. Two former Tangipahoa sheriff's deputies have been charged.
Law enforcement officials told The Advocate that Daniel Edwards' computer was among the items seized during last week's daylong raid.
"I can tell you that my office has cooperated with the federal authorities since the beginning of their investigation," the sheriff said during a brief news conference Friday.
Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff Daniel Edwards said Friday that no one in his office -- other than…
Edwards again defended his brother on his monthly call-in radio show later Wednesday, telling listeners that his brother had done nothing wrong.
The probe into the sheriff's office caps a year of unfortunate news to which Gov. Edwards, who took office in January, has had to respond.
Edwards on Wednesday reflected back on Louisiana's whirlwind 2016 that was marked with cataclysmic floods, a deadly attack on law enforcement officers, a historic state budget deficit and series of political setbacks for the only state-wide elected Democrat.
"There are always lessons learned, but I'm very proud of the work we've been able to do under difficult circumstances," Edwards said.
Edwards took office in January. A month later, the state Legislature entered what would become 19 consecutive weeks in session, largely dedicated to trying to temporarily sort out the state's finances and close a projected $2 billion deficit.
In just eight months in office, Gov. John Bel Edwards has been through two catastrophic floo…
"I would like to have had more successes in the legislative sessions," Edwards said.
Legislators are expected to attempt a more substantive overhaul of the budget in the session that begins in April.
"The simple fact of the matter is we are not going to cut our way to prosperity," Edwards said.
In the months since lawmakers left the Capitol in June, the state has faced repeated blows.
In early July, Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man, was shot dead by two white Baton Rouge police officers, sparking mass demonstrations in the city. The Department of Justice has not yet completed its probe of the shooting.
Less than two weeks later, a Missouri man executed a targeted attack on cops in Baton Rouge. East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Deputy Brad Garafola and Baton Rouge Police officers Matthew Gerald and Montrell Jackson were killed in the deadly shooting. Three other officers were injured.
Edwards, who was getting ready for church when he learned of the attack, said he considers that day the "toughest day" since he's been in office.
A month after the shooting, south Louisiana was ravaged by floods that left thousands of homes damaged or destroyed and necessitated the emergency rescue of residents across the area.
"I know we have people out there whose lives are upside down and are hurting," Edwards said of the continued recovery efforts.
Edwards also has been locked in a court battle with Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry over an executive order that he issued shortly after taking office that aimed to ban discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in state government.
A judge last week tossed out the executive order, ruling that Edwards had overstepped his constitutional authority as governor. Edwards said he plans to challenge the order.
"I do believe we are best served in Louisiana by having an official policy of inclusion," he said.
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