Audit: Former State Police superintendent Mike Edmonson misused public assets for personal gain
BATON ROUGE — The highly anticipated Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s investigative report on former State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson has been released.
The report, much of which has already been made public after The New Orleans Advocate obtained a draft copy, alleges that Edmonson used his position as head of State Police largely for personal gain.
He reportedly allowed his friends and family to stay in hotel rooms that the city of New Orleans paid for to house additional troopers for Mardi Gras. This happened multiple times from 2013-2016.
Edmonson also allegedly directed troopers to run errands for Edmonson, his family and friends.
Shortly after Edmonson was appointed superintendent by former Gov. Bobby Jindal, Edmonson and his family moved into the Department of Public Safety Compound without legal authority to do so, living rent-free from February 2008 until March 2017, the month Edmonson resigned.
The rent-free living added up to $434,720, according to the report.
He’s also accused of receiving free meals from the DPS cafeteria and obtaining a DPS credit card without permission from the Division of Administration. The card reportedly was used to purchase special meals.
State Police also footed the bill for maintenance and detailing of Edmonson’s family members’ vehicles, and Edmonson used the Governor’s Mansion’s dry cleaning service while receiving a dry cleaning allowance.
The auditor’s office began its investigation into State Police spending practices after media reports of improper travel by state troopers and others who attended conferences in San Diego in October 2016. According to the audit report, State Police spent $85,486 for 16 DPS employees to attend the conferences.
Some of the troopers drove to the conference instead of flying and detoured to visit three popular tourist destinations along the way, including Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon.
Click here to read the auditor’s report.
Gov. John Bel Edwards’ office responded to the audit report with the following statement:
“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.”
Edmonson, meanwhile, has called for an investigation into who leaked the draft audit report to the media. He says he will respond to the audit in January.