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|Edwards still a factor|
Like it or not, Edwin Edwards still dominates the political landscape in Louisiana, though not literally.
That's more than obvious, evidenced by the media's fascination – as well as the general public to some extent – with the former four-term governor, who will turn 84 years of age Aug. 7.
Edwards completed a six-month home incarceration stint last week. He was allowed to do the time at his daughter's home in Denham Springs instead of plodding along in a half-way house. That's usually required of individuals who are nearing the end of a federal prison sentence.
It seems as if it was just yesterday that Edwards as well as others were convicted in the Russell B. Long Federal Courthouse in Baton Rouge in a riverboat licensing scandal. It was 11 years ago, though. Edwards began serving his 10-year sentence in October 2002. An individual who is convicted in federal court and ordered to serve time must serve at least 85 percent of his or her sentence, assuming credit is earned for good behavior.
It should not have surprised anyone that Edwards was on his best behavior while serving his time in Fort Worth and later at Oakdale. Edwards has never been known to be hot-tempered. He's a lover, not a fighter, though during his heyday he was very effective at punishing his enemies. Ask around.
At one time, Edwards said he would hop aboard his RV and tour the western United States when he completed his time in prison. Those plans seem to have been altered by a new love in his life, Trina Grimes Scott of Alexandria. Just 33 years old, Scott, a mother of two boys, apparently read Leo Honeycutt's authorized biography of Edwards and soon paid him a visit when he was incarcerated at Oakdale. The rest is history. The two are scheduled to be married sometime this month. They'll live in Edwards' new home in the rather upscale Pelican Point golf community near Gonzales in Ascension Parish.
When he was confined to his daughter's home in Denham Springs, Edwards was required to get a job. His long-time friend Buddy Leach put him to work as a consultant in the oil and gas business, a concern Edwards knows well. While Edwards worked for Leach, the wealthy chairman of the state Democrat Party, they were known to have lunch at The Little Village in downtown Baton Rouge, a popular hangout for the politically connected and others with ties to state government.
Edwards and Leach recently were seen breaking bread with Sen. Rob Marionneaux, a Democrat from Maringouin. Marionneaux apparently is toying with opposing Gov. Bobby Jindal in the fall elections.
Don't expect to see Edwards out and about around the state campaigning for Marionneaux, assuming he offers himself as the Democrat's guinea pig against Jindal, who is unbeatable at this late stage in the 2011 election cycle. Instead, you may see Edwards accompanying Honeycutt to a book signing to promote Honeycutt's offering on Edwards' life. They have a few book signings scheduled in Baton Rouge in the not too distant future.
There also is that idea of Edwards starring in a reality TV show, which apparently remains in the planning stages. Though some of his friends would rather see the former governor do something more productive with his time than dickering around with that silliness called reality TV, it's his life and at nearly 84 years of age, he's earned the right to do whatever he wants to do. Legally, of course.
Yet, Edwards has a reputation to rebuild. He'll learn it won't happen overnight. It takes time, but in time, the general public will forgive him for his conviction for the most part, especially if he uses his time wisely and does something productive with it.
It's a bit odd that so many people seem to be celebrating Edwards' freedom. After all, his conviction didn't do the state any favors as far as its reputation as a haven for corruption is concerned.
But like it or not, Edwards has had a profound impact on Louisiana. He brought about positive change on some fronts, but he negatively impacted the state, too. It's in the eyes of the beholder on which one outweighs the other.
And the fact remains that Edwards is still a factor.
Sam Hanna, Jr.
is publisher of The Ouachita Citizen
, and he serves in an editorial/management capacity with The Concordia Sentinel
and The Franklin Sun
, three newspapers owned and operated by the Hanna family. Hanna can be reached by calling (318) 805-8158 or by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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