In a historic move this year, the Louisiana State Troopers Association endorsed a political candidate – specifically, they endorse Democratic gubernatorial candidate, and eventual winner, John Bel Edwards. It was a moved that shocked that the troopers of the state, as there was no vote to endorse even held among the rank and file of the group. It was an executive decision, and one that was apparently browbeat out of the board members of the group.
Now, according to John Binder over at The Hayride, a “legal can of worms” is opening up for the Executive Director of the group, David T. Young.
Since 2003, Young has been a profligate donor to campaigns all across the state, across party lines, as a review of campaign records below shows. But allegations have been made that Young’s donations have been immediately reimbursed by the LSTA.
The most notable contributions are to Gov. John Bel Edwards’ campaign in his race last year against Sen. David Vitter (R-LA). At the time, the LSTA actually endorsed Edwards, something that came as a shock considering the organization had never endorsed a political candidate in its history.
Along with the endorsement, the LSTA apparently funneled a total of $10,000 to the Edwards campaign, filing the contributions under Young’s name, though Young was later reimbursed by the LSTA for that money. If the allegation of reimbursement is correct, that would make Young an illegal “straw donor” under campaign finance laws.
The use of “straw donors” is the violation of campaign finance law, albeit at the federal level, which was the source of the legal problems for prominent conservative intellectual and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza. D’Souza reimbursed friends for making maximum donations to Wendy Long, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, and ultimately spent eight months in a halfway house in San Diego as part of his sentence for the crime.
The funneling of LSTA money through Young could open up a major legal can of worms for the organization.
The Louisiana State Constitution and State Police Commission rules clearly prohibits the LSTA and its members from “participating or engaging in political activity” be it for a state political candidate or a national political candidate. Active-duty state troopers aren’t even allowed to make social media posts about politics, much less endorse or fund political campaigns.
The alleged misuse of LSTA money has now been brought before the Louisiana State Police Commission (LSPC) on the grounds that the matter must be investigated under the State Police Commission rules. If the LSPC decides not to investigate the issue, issue could be taken all the way to the Attorney General’s office, which Jeff Landry now holds.
Allegations that the majority of members within the LSTA have been unaware of Young’s funneling money scheme follow a similar story-line that came about during the Edwards-Vitter gubernatorial election.
Essentially, the Executive Director of the group is making donations to politicians under his own name, and then getting reimbursed by the LTSA for equivalent amounts. This is a very big no-no, and the already-upset members of the LTSA are growing increasingly frustrated at this misuse of power and funds.
An investigation into this, especially right at the beginning of Edwards’ already dysfunctional term (he lost a bid to get a Democratic House Speaker in the state’s Republican-controlled legislature), could end up very badly for both Edwards and the LTSA board. Unless, of course, the media is already covering for Edwards while throwing the LTSA under the bus.