When I was in middle school, I can remember a lot of talk about Fidel Castro. The story that I remember most is that Fidel Castro was a minor league baseball player. I did not remember all the facts concerning the Bay of Pigs or the Cuban Missile Crisis (hence my poor Social Studies grades). And I just learned that the story is false.
That leads me to think about how other people have affected history by what they did or did not do. I want to tell you a story today, but I am not sure if I can maintain my one page blog rule.
If I asked a group of people to list the most corrupt states in the United States, one name would rise to the top. That state would be Louisiana.1. And if you could list the most corrupt people in that state over the last twenty years, one name would also be set apart from the rest: Edwin Edwards. Edwin Edwards was first governor from 1972 to 1980, and in the state of Louisiana, you cannot run for a third term in a row. You can sit out one term and then run again, but you cannot be governor three terms in a row.
Huey P. Long, "the Kingfish", was an amazing politician, the model of the corrupt politician. My favorite quote of his: "One of these days the people of Louisiana are going to get good government - and they aren't going to like it." Edwards was more corrupt than the Kingfish. Oh, and Edwards has been in jail since October 2002. I guess that is better than being shot (Huey Long was shot – some say he was shot by one of his own bodyguards when his assailant, Carl Weiss, punched him).
Back to Edwin Edwards.
In his second term, he was positioning himself to take the office back. In Louisiana, a Republican has not been elected governor since the Civil War – that happened a lot in the South. Southern Democrats run the gambit – from conservative to liberal. So the fight is in the primary – once a Democrat won the primary, beating up the Republican was not a problem.
Edwin Edwards instituted a different type of voting, "patronage voting" or something like that. Basically, everybody runs in the same primary, and the top two vote-getters run in the general election. And you might think Edwin Edwards proposed this change in the election process to benefit the fine people of Louisiana. But since we are talking about politics, let's assume he did it to benefit himself. And knowing Edwards, perhaps this benefitted his pocketbook as well. So when Edwin Edwards left office in 1980, he was delighted when David Treen (the first Republican Governor of Louisiana) was elected over a very liberal Democrat.
Edwin Edwards won re-election in 1983, a couple of years after one of Edwards closest friends was indicted after an FBI sting. There were tapes that showed close ties between members of the Edwards administration and a New Orleans mob boss. Edwards was not indicted for his involvement.
Edwards, being Edwards, in his role of governor, went to trial for shaking down $1.9 million in bribes to secure hospital licenses. He was not convicted, but because of this and several other things, he was not re-elected in 1988.
Buddy Roemer was elected, mostly because of Edwards ethically challenged character. Edwards dropped out of the 1987 race, and one columnist stated, "The only way Edwards can ever be reelected is to run against Adolph Hitler."
Tomorrow, I will finish the story of how an Adolph Hitler placed Edwards in the governor's mansion one last time and how this may have made the devastation of Hurricane Katrina worse because of this election outcome.
1Louisiana has the reputation of being the most corrupt state, but in a recent study, here is how the most corrupt states ranked: (1) Mississippi, (2) North Dakota and (3) Louisiana. The only question I have is: North Dakota? Are you serious?