NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - A scathing Legislative Auditor's report was issued Thursday on former State Police Commander Col. Mike Edmonson.
And Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., said Edmonson should be made to pay the state taxes for the free housing and other services he received at taxpayers' expense.
"This is absurd, I'm embarrassed for the State Police. We've got a lot of really great troopers," he said.
The auditors found among other things that:
- Edmonson improperly moved his family to a state-owned, State Police compound complex, and for him it was free of rent, utilities and taxes
- A state inmate was assigned to cook and clean for Edmonson and his family and walk the family dog
- State police employees repaired Edmonson’s family vehicles
- Edmonson used New Orleans hotel rooms set aside for state troopers assisting the local police with Mardi Gras security to instead lodge his family and friends for free.
Senator Kennedy sent a letter to the state secretary of the Department of Revenue requesting that she send Edmonson a tax bill for the freebies he received before retiring amid a controversy over a California trip he and other troopers took at taxpayers' expense that was first exposed in a series of Lee Zurik investigations.
"So it seems to me the least that the governor's revenue collector can do is go collect the money that Col. Edmonson owes the people. When you get free housing like this, and free food and a free car, that's taxable income. I mean, that's just Tax 101, and he owes money to the state, he owes money to the federal government," Kennedy said.
Edmonson is slamming what he said were leaks of the draft audit report to the news media and wrote a letter to the Legislative Auditor which reads, in part:
"For inexplicable reasons, the confidential draft report regarding me and the Louisiana State Police was leaked to the media and the contents of the draft then was disseminated to media outlets throughout the State - all before I could respond to the various contentions. Realizing the inherent unfairness to me, the residents of our State, as well as respect for the normal procedures, I trust your office has begun an investigation into this improper conduct and will soon report your findings.
"Due to the scope of the draft report, I requested (you and I discussed in a previous meeting that I would probably need additional time and you saw no problem in granting such) and you agreed to grant my request to present my response within a determined period. Therefore, I will deliver to you my submission by January 15, 2018; that response will address, among other issues, approval by the Governor's Office for my housing when I was selected to serve as Colonel of the Louisiana State Police in 2008."
Governor Edwards issued a statement on the audit report Thursday afternoon, it said:
"I have welcomed this investigation from the beginning and instructed the Louisiana State Police to fully cooperate. The Legislative Auditor's report uncovered some troubling findings and serious problems with past abuses of power from its previous leader who left his post in March. I believe that public servants must always hold themselves to the highest ethical standards. That being said, our men and women of the State Police are honorable public servants who do a tremendous job protecting the citizens of Louisiana, often under very dangerous circumstances. Through the leadership of Col. Kevin Reeves, who took the helm of this department in March of this year, the department has already taken significant steps to restore public trust and accountability. Col. Reeves is one of the finest individuals I've had the pleasure of working with, and I am confident that he is already leading the State Police in a new, positive direction."