Governor's office says possible Edmonson resignation is 'rumor'

Governor's office says possible Edmonson resignation is 'rumor'
Published: Mar. 13, 2017 at 7:40 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 13, 2017 at 8:02 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The governor's office is downplaying mounting speculation among well-connected sources that Col. Mike Edmonson, the head of Louisiana State Police, might be preparing to resign.

This comes amid fallout from media reports about various issues with the police agency including a questionable trip to Las Vegas taken by some of his troopers. The trip also involved possible overtime fraud.

A spokesman for the governor's office insisted Monday afternoon that the speculation was false.

"The rumor mill is churning, but it is just that - rumor," said Edwards spokesman Richard Carbo.

The governor and Edmonson met Monday morning but Carbo said the meeting was just a routine meeting between the two that regularly occurs. The Advocate newspaper, quoting Carbo, reported that the governor has not called for Edmonson's resignation.

Reached by phone Friday, Edmonson told WAFB-TV that the speculation was just that and that he had no plans to resign.

The questionable trip, taken in 2016, involved 17 people that State Police sent to a conference in San Diego. Records show four state troopers drove a state police vehicle to the conference and, instead of going directly there, made stops at the Grand Canyon and in Las Vegas. Some of the those troopers submitted time sheets that contained possible falsified overtime hours. Edmonson first denied any knowledge of the questionable overtime. However, when records revealed that he signed one of the questionable expense reports, Edmonson said his assistant, thinking the expenses were valid, used a rubber stamp to put Edmonson's signature on the reports.

Last month, reporter Lee Zurik questioned Edmonson about the possible falsified overtime expenses.

"Is that theft?" Zurik asked.

"I'm embarrassed by it," Edmonson said. "I don't think it's right at all but I don't know that it's theft."

US Sen. John Kennedy, after hearing of the questionable expenses, called on Edmonson to resign.

"I like the superintendent," Kennedy said. "But, he has demonstrated that he is the tallest hog at the trough. And, this is taxpayer money."

In a separate issue, The Advocate newspaper reports federal authorities delivered subpoenas to more than a dozen members of the Louisiana State Troopers Association board of directors last week. The newspaper reported it was part of a months-old inquiry into a series of possibly unlawful campaign contributions the nonprofit made in 2014 and 2015.

Edmonson is the state's longest serving state police superintendent. He was appointed to the position in 2008 by Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal. Traditionally, a new governor, particularly one from a different political party, will nominate a new superintendent. However, Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, kept Edmonson in the position when he was elected.

Edmonson has been a state trooper for more than 35 years including serving 26 years as Head of Security for the LSU football team and every head coach from Coach Jerry Stovall to Coach Les Miles.

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