Zurik: SPRB attorney says legal action over Edmonson retirement not needed

Updated: Aug. 15, 2014 at 12:54 AM CDT
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File photo of State Police Col. Mike Edmonson (Source: NOLA.com)
File photo of State Police Col. Mike Edmonson (Source: NOLA.com)

An attorney for the State Police Retirement Board says that controversial amendment to give the state police head a huge retirement bump is unconstitutional - but he says the board should not sue over it.

Hammond attorney C.B. Forgotston got a copy of the attorney's recommendations Thursday night and shared it with FOX 8 News and others.

The amendment would raise the retirement of State Police Col. Mike Edmonson and one other person. Forgotston thinks Edmonson could collect an additional 50-thousand dollars a year in retirement.

Edmonson has said he will not accept the extra money. However, there is no guarantee that he will not claim the money later.

Lawmakers passed this amendment on the last day of the session. But they never discussed it publicly, and most lawmakers have said they really did not know what they were voting for.

The SPRB will hold a special meeting on Sept. 4 to decide if they should proceed with litigation.

According to the report obtained by Forgotston the board's own attorney, Robert Klausner of Florida, says they should not bother to sue. Instead, he says, the board should simply refuse to pay out the additional benefits. If that is challenged, Klausner suggests, the state attorney general would be obligated to defend the amendment, which was signed into law by Gov. Bobby Jindal.

"It's a whitewash by lawyers hired by Edmonson and his people who serve on the board," Forgotston tells FOX 8. "Dumbest legal advice I've ever seen. The lawyers said it's an unconstitutional law, but not to have a court confirm it. They said just ignore it. How can any state agency ignore any law unless they get a ruling from a court? Bottom-line, the law remains on the books to be collected as soon as the public furor dies down."

The Edmonson amendment was introduced in conference committee by La. Senator Neil Riser. It has prompted criticism by State Treasurer John Kennedy, who sits on the State Police Retirement Board. But Forgotston says most board members will likely follow their attorney's advice. 

"I expect the board to tell Klausner that he did a great job and move to adjourn," he says. "State Treasurer John Kennedy will be the only one to oppose adjourning without action. He will be out-voted 10 to 1."

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