The Louisiana Ethics Administration presented Mayor-President Kip Holden a birthday present this week by agreeing to become a pawn in a dangerous political game gone wild.
Louisiana law set up the Ethics Administration to oversee, investigate and rule in matters related to campaign finance, lobbyist disclosure, and conflicts of interest.
Procedures are in place to allow citizens to submit concerns in writing. In turn, the ethics board reviews the matter and determines whether to move forward in pursuit of specific violations of the ethics laws.
Several ironies exist in this format.
One is that the process clearly states that it is a misdemeanor to reveal any information regarding an ethics investigation. Yet, we read about this investigation in The Advocate. This is another case of the law making no sense, unless this isn’t about ethics?
Another irony is that the man charged, Scott Wilfong, is not even required to file a campaign finance report which, in essence, makes the charges and complaint erroneous. Vendors of campaigns are not required to file campaign finance reports. Those hiring them must file whether they are the political candidate, a PAC, or interested citizen.
The greatest irony is that ethics is about morality which is the basis for the flyer. The ethics board has chosen to investigate the source, but not the content of the flyer.
There’s more to the story.
Mayor-President Kip Holden allegedly committed an immoral act (adultery) coupled with an unethical one (using police officers after hours) which was the thrust of the anti-Holden flyer.
Holden hired an attorney and private investigator to pursue the matter and obtain the name(s) of individuals responsible for the flyer to no avail. Holden also accused numerous individuals at varying times as being responsible for the flyer.
When the allegations could not be proven by Holden, an ethics complaint was filed to force the hand of Wilfong to reveal who paid him to mail the flyer. To date, the Mayor has accused 4 different individuals as being the source of the flyer.
Truly, this is political scheming and unethical behavior in its truest form. And people wonder why the ethics board is not respected or why more individuals do not file ethics complaints?
The legislature took away the privilege of anonymously filing ethics complaints. This allows alleged perpetrators to know their accuser unlike proven whistleblower programs like CrimeStoppers. This was a mistake.
The politically powerful have far reaching arms in the Red Stick, and those seen as violating the rules of secrecy pay dearly. It also prevents law-abiding citizens from filing complaints that are sure violations of the law. Who needs the grief?
The bottom line on this entire fiasco is simple in that we reap what we sow:
- If you don’t want to be embarrassed publicly, be faithful to your partner.
- If you use security, don’t bring them to the scene of your illicit activities.
- If you are accused of impropriety, don’t fuel the fire by showing the media the flyer.
- If you are a vendor engaged in any political-related work, be prepared to be exposed for your involvement and possibly become the scapegoat.
- If you are smart enough, you can use the ethics board to do your dirty work without them even realizing they are your pawn.
Any way you cut it, this is a slap in the face for the intent of the ethics laws for the state of Louisiana, and a huge step backwards for the Red Stick.
Until next time,
Red Stick Republican
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