BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A month after a scathing audit raised questions about whether Louisiana's former top cop had broken the law while serving as the head of State Police, retired Col. Mike Edmonson has issued a follow-up response.
In a two-page letter, Edmonson's lawyer addresses two of the main accusations found in the original audit: the use of a house on the State Police grounds as a personal home and the side trip that several state troopers took on their way to California.
However, he does not touch the other accusations, writing, "Colonel Edmonson simply does not have the type of resources to respond to other observations made by the auditors." Those other accusations include the following:
- Edmonson allegedly got free meals from the state police cafeteria that auditors believe he should have paid for.
- Edmonson allegedly let family members bring their personal vehicles to the state police fleet operations center for free minor repairs, car washes, and detailing. One trooper said his secretary kept notes of when these incidents allegedly happened.
- Edmonson allegedly got his uniforms dry-cleaned at the Governor’s Mansion while also being given an allowance from state police for the same purpose.
- During Mardi Gras, Edmonson allegedly let friends and family stay for free in hotel rooms in New Orleans meant for state troopers, including at the five-star Windsor Court Hotel.
Edmonson's lawyer writes that because the audit was released prematurely and appeared in media reports, he was not able to "respond to more of the auditor's initial commentary."
However, the auditor's office says they had a meeting set up with Edmonson for Nov. 29. A day before, Edmonson apparently canceled the meeting and asked for an emailed copy of the report draft, which they sent him.
Days later, on Dec. 1, The Advocate published a story about the audit prior to its release. WWL-TV also aired stories citing the report. The auditor's office said it conducted an internal investigation and found "no evidence the draft report was distributed by a Legislative Auditor employee."
Testifying before lawmakers in mid-December, Roger Harris with the auditor's office said, "If you go to WWL.com, the screenshot there is the cover letter I released to Col. Edmonson," Harris said. "I'm not saying Col. Edmonson released the report, but I'm saying the copy that went to him was released to the media."
In defending the use of the home, lawyer Harry Rosenberg pointed to a letter from Gov. Bobby Jindal's chief of staff, published in The Advocate newspaper. In it, Timmy Teepell wrote, "I approved Col. Mike Edmonson's living arrangements."
Gov. John Bel Edwards, the letter noted, also "expected Colonel Edmonson to be living in that residence and available at all times."
In response, the auditor's office wrote that "we nor LSP management were able to find a law, administrative rule, LSP policy, or contract that authorized Colonel Edmonson to use and occupy the [Residential Conference Center] as his primary residence." It further noted that even if Edmonson was approved to live there, it has no bearing on whether he should have paid taxes on the home.
On the side trip to Las Vegas taken by several troopers on the taxpayer dime, Rosenberg wrote that Edmonson "did not approve" the overtime.
However, the auditor said troopers they interviewed claimed Edmonson did in fact know about the Vegas trip before they even left. They claim Edmonson even asked them to text him photos and updates along the way, which they did.