Written by Debarshi Chaudhuri
Louisiana has a long history of corruption. Much of it can be traced back to the reign of former governor Huey Long, who kept a secret police force and repeatedly took money from state funds for his own purposes. After his death in 1935, corruption continued to thrive in Louisiana. In 1939, numerous state officials, including the president of Louisiana State University and the governor, Richard Leche were indicted for embezzlement. The governorship continued to be a hotbed of corruption during the 1970s through the 1990s when Governor Edwin Edwards was in office. Edwards was able to get off on more than twenty charges of corruption and was reelected to his post several times by the voters of Louisiana (Schulte 2005).
More recently, corruption has remained prominent in the state, although the governorship has improved. State judges have been convicted of bribery and a U.S. representative’s has been investigated for corruption (Schulte 2005). Even a short time before Hurricane Katrina hit, for example, Marc Morial, a former mayor of New Orleans was charged with fraud (Gelinas 2005). The police department has also long been under fire for corruption, bribery, and brutality (Mulrine 2005)..
Corruption remained evident even after Hurricane Katrina hit. There have also been reports of no-bid rebuilding contracts being given to companies that are tied to government officials. Some of these contractors have been accused of readily employing illegal aliens to do much of the rebuilding work. There are also reports of these illegal aliens going unpaid for the work that they do. This corruption seems to extend to the police department. Many spoke out against the department’s response to Hurricane Katrina, including the fact that some officers left their posts after the hurricane hit. One of the most prominent critics, Captain Tim Bayard, who spoke to the U.S. Senate about the police department’s response, was transferred to an almost insignificant desk job, seemingly as a result of his criticism of the department. The city has also been accused of keeping records of police officers who did not actually exist in order to make the department look larger. .
As a result of these actions and the long history of corruption, the city council of New Orleans has created the office of an Inspector General, who will be investigating corruption throughout the city. Our plan takes a look at the position that the city council has created and gives an endorsement of the inspector general.