Now that he's well and truly down, they're lining up to kick former State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson.
U.S. Senator John Kennedy found the experience so gratifying that he just decided to have a second go.
One voice has been raised in defense, but it comes from the upper echelons of the unlamented Bobby Jindal administration. So that is pretty much the coup de grâce; it is hard to see how Edmonson's reputation can recover from this.
Kennedy, who was prominent among those urging Edmonson to quit before he did so several months ago, now wants him to pay taxes on the fabulous perks he received for all the years he was doing his convincing impersonation of a dedicated, honest-as-the-day-is-long public servant.
If this seems like kicking a man when he is down, that is sometimes the only way. Only since Edmonson was forced out has the full extent of his knavery come to light.
Kennedy, having spent many years as state treasurer, has a keen eye for taxable income and he figures that Edmonson needs to cough up after living high on the hog at taxpayer expense from 2008 until exiting, aged 58.
He did so with an annual pension of $128,559, so he is in no danger of starving, but his tax bill is likely to hurt a little bit.
According to the state Legislative Auditor's Office, Edmonson moved his family “without legal authority” into a house at the Department of Public Safety compound where the rent alone, had he been required to pay it, would have run to $434,720.
Clearly, it would not have been possible for the Edmonson clan to live in public housing on the QT and without official sanction. Timmy Teepell, chief of staff in the Bobby Jindal administration, now writes a letter to the editor in a vain attempt to set our minds to rest. He asserts that the house occupied by Edmonson was “built over a decade ago by our tax dollars to house the superintendent.”
In fact, the house was built in 2002, and none of Edmonson's predecessors had lived there before he got the top job six years later. It was supposed to provide a base of operations for the governor and state police superintendent during emergencies. Constructing a closet for Mrs. Edmonson's shoes certainly did not serve its original purpose.
Teepell wrote that he was “leading the transition” for Jindal when he alone gave the go-ahead for the Edmonsons to occupy the house. Thus, in effect, Teepell, before occupying any government post, up and handed Edmonson a hefty pay raise, which does seem a tad presumptuous.
Regardless, Teepell avers that he gave Edmonson a free house so that he would always be available to cope with an emergency. No difficulties had been reported in locating Edmonson's predecessors when they were needed, however.
Still, there may be some slight advantage in having the boss resident at police HQ when disaster strikes, and Teepell may have a point when he suggests accommodating the Edmonsons made more sense than leaving the place vacant. It is, in any case, only a “nondescript ranch house,” he writes, but you want a mansion you run for governor.
That may have once been an option for Edmonson, but the various misdeeds discovered by the legislative auditor now rule that out. It may be true, as Teepell notes, that state troopers are the “thin blue line that bold stand against crime and chaos,” but a bunch of them also served as private chauffeurs for Edmonson and his wife.
The auditor's report is replete with stories of freeloading — Edmonson even accepted a dry-cleaning allowance while sending his uniforms to the governor's service — but the most startling revelation, given his constant paeans to the integrity of his organization, is that he can lie through his teeth.
He claimed to be shocked when told that four of his police cronies had run up several thousand dollars in illicit expenses and overtime during a jaunt out west in a department SUV. It turned out that not only had Edmonson been in touch with them throughout, but had apparently essayed a cover-up by deleting text messages exchanged with them. No wonder they're lining up to kick him.
Email James Gill at Gill1407@bellsouth.net.