Edwin Edwards

Edwin Edwards

Overview
Edwin Washington Edwards (born August 7, 1927) served as the Governor of Louisiana for four terms (1972–1980, 1984–1988 and 1992–1996), twice as many terms as any other Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

 chief executive has served. Edwards was also Louisiana's first Roman Catholic governor in the 20th century. A colorful, powerful and legendary figure in Louisiana politics, Edwards was long dogged by charges of corruption
Political corruption
Political corruption is the use of legislated powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain. Misuse of government power for other purposes, such as repression of political opponents and general police brutality, is not considered political corruption. Neither are illegal acts by...

.

In 2001, he was sentenced to ten years in prison
Prison
A prison is a place in which people are physically confined and, usually, deprived of a range of personal freedoms. Imprisonment or incarceration is a legal penalty that may be imposed by the state for the commission of a crime...

 on racketeering charges.
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Quotations

The only way I can lose this election is if I'm caught in bed with either a dead girl or a live boy.

On his 1983 Gubernatorial election against incumbent David C. Treen|David C. Treen

If we don't get Dave Treen out of office, there won't be anything left to steal.

Reporter: What will it take to beat Duke decisively? Edwards: For me to stay alive.

During run-off election against David Duke

We're both wizards in the sheets

On the similarities between David Duke and himself

I never speak ill of dead people or live judges.

When asked for a statement while on trial for corruption

I did not do anything wrong as a governor. Even if you accept the verdict as it is, it doesn't indicate that.

After receiving his conviction for racketeering

I will be a model prisoner, as I have been a model citizen.

On his way to prison, in 2001

Let the bastards freeze in the dark.

Referring to Senator Edward Kennedy and Kennedy's political allies and constituents when they had Louisiana natural gas forcibly shipped out of state at artificially low prices during the energy crisis - causing shortages and price hikes of natural gas in Louisiana and an unprecedentedly cold winter for residents of the state.

Some politicians like to kiss babies...I like to kiss the baby's mommas

At a campaign rally in 1992
Encyclopedia
Edwin Washington Edwards (born August 7, 1927) served as the Governor of Louisiana for four terms (1972–1980, 1984–1988 and 1992–1996), twice as many terms as any other Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

 chief executive has served. Edwards was also Louisiana's first Roman Catholic governor in the 20th century. A colorful, powerful and legendary figure in Louisiana politics, Edwards was long dogged by charges of corruption
Political corruption
Political corruption is the use of legislated powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain. Misuse of government power for other purposes, such as repression of political opponents and general police brutality, is not considered political corruption. Neither are illegal acts by...

.

In 2001, he was sentenced to ten years in prison
Prison
A prison is a place in which people are physically confined and, usually, deprived of a range of personal freedoms. Imprisonment or incarceration is a legal penalty that may be imposed by the state for the commission of a crime...

 on racketeering charges. Edwards began serving his sentence in October 2002 in Fort Worth
Fort Worth, Texas
Fort Worth is the 16th-largest city in the United States of America and the fifth-largest city in the state of Texas. Located in North Central Texas, just southeast of the Texas Panhandle, the city is a cultural gateway into the American West and covers nearly in Tarrant, Parker, Denton, and...

, Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

, and was later transferred to the federal facility in Oakdale
Oakdale, Louisiana
Oakdale is a small city in Allen Parish, Louisiana, United States. The population was 8,137 at the 2000 census.Oakdale was founded as "Dunnsville" by William T. Dunn...

, Louisiana.

Two men whom Edwards defeated in Louisiana elections—David C. Treen
David C. Treen
David Conner "Dave" Treen, Sr. , was an American attorney and politician from Mandeville, St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana – the first Republican Governor of the U.S. state of Louisiana since Reconstruction. He was the first Republican in modern times to have served in the U.S...

 and J. Bennett Johnston Jr.—and a third who was his protege, John Breaux
John Breaux
John Berlinger Breaux is a former United States senator from Louisiana who served from 1987 until 2005. He was also a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1972 to 1987. He was considered one of the more conservative national legislators from the Democratic Party...

, confirmed in July 2007 that they intended to approach then U.S. President George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 about procuring a pardon
Pardon
Clemency means the forgiveness of a crime or the cancellation of the penalty associated with it. It is a general concept that encompasses several related procedures: pardoning, commutation, remission and reprieves...

 or commutation
Commutation of sentence
Commutation of sentence involves the reduction of legal penalties, especially in terms of imprisonment. Unlike a pardon, a commutation does not nullify the conviction and is often conditional. Clemency is a similar term, meaning the lessening of the penalty of the crime without forgiving the crime...

 for Edwards, who celebrated his 80th birthday in prison in August 2007. Bush, however, denied a pardon for Edwards before he left the presidency on January 20, 2009.

Edwards was released from federal prison into a halfway house on January 13, 2011. Supporters lobbied President Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 for a pardon of Edwards so he might run in the 2011 Louisiana Gubernatorial Election
Louisiana gubernatorial election, 2011
The Louisiana gubernatorial election of 2011 was held on October 22 with 10 candidates competing in a nonpartisan blanket primary. The incumbent, Bobby Jindal, was elected to a second term as governor of Louisiana...

. Edwards stated he would contest the election if legally allowed to do so. But Obama made no reply to petitions by supporters of Edwards, who remained ineligible to seek the governorship again. Republican Governor Bobby Jindal won a second term in a landslide without a runoff, gaining over 67 percent of the popular vote as compared to 18 percent for his closest Democratic rival.

Early life and career



Edwin Washington Edwards was born in rural Avoyelles Parish
Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana
Avoyelles is a parish located in the U.S. state of Louisiana. The parish seat is Marksville. In 2000, its population was 41,481. The parish is named for the Avoyel Indian tribe.-History:...

, near Marksville
Marksville, Louisiana
Marksville is a city in and the parish seat of Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana, United States. The population was 5,537 at the 2000 census. Louisiana's first land-based casino, Paragon Casino Resort, opened in Marksville in June 1994...

. His father, Clarence Edwards, was a half-Cajun
Cajun
Cajuns are an ethnic group mainly living in the U.S. state of Louisiana, consisting of the descendants of Acadian exiles...

 Presbyterian sharecropper
Sharecropping
Sharecropping is a system of agriculture in which a landowner allows a tenant to use the land in return for a share of the crop produced on the land . This should not be confused with a crop fixed rent contract, in which a landowner allows a tenant to use the land in return for a fixed amount of...

, while his mother, Agnès (Brouillette) Edwards, was a French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

-speaking Cajun
Cajun
Cajuns are an ethnic group mainly living in the U.S. state of Louisiana, consisting of the descendants of Acadian exiles...

 Catholic. Avoyelles Parish has been known for colorful politicians; one who stood out, F.O. "Potch" Didier
F.O. "Potch" Didier
Fabius Odell Didier, Jr., known as Potch Didier , was a flamboyant Democratic sheriff of Avoyelles Parish in south Central Louisiana, who served from 1960-1980. In 1970, Didier was tried, convicted and served a seven-day sentence in his own jail for malfeasance in office.Nevertheless, the newspaper...

, actually spent seven days in his own jail after being convicted of malfeasance
Malfeasance
The expressions misfeasance and nonfeasance, and occasionally malfeasance, are used in English law with reference to the discharge of public obligations existing by common law, custom or statute.-Definition and relevant rules of law:...

 in office.

The young Edwards had originally planned on a career as a preacher. As a young man, he did some preaching for the Church of the Nazarene
Church of the Nazarene
The Church of the Nazarene is an evangelical Christian denomination that emerged from the 19th century Holiness movement in North America with its members colloquially referred to as Nazarenes. It is the largest Wesleyan-holiness denomination in the world. At the end of 2010, the Church of the...

. He served briefly in the U.S. Navy Air Corps near the end of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. After his return from the military, he graduated at the age of twenty-one from Louisiana State University Law Center and began practicing law in Crowley
Crowley, Louisiana
Crowley is a city in and the parish seat of Acadia Parish, Louisiana, United States. The population was 14,225 at the 2000 census. The city is noted for its annual International Rice Festival. Crowley has the nickname of "Rice Capital of America", because at one time it was a major center for...

, the seat of Acadia Parish
Acadia Parish, Louisiana
Acadia Parish is a parish located in the U.S. state of Louisiana. The parish seat is Crowley. According to the 2010 census, the population of Acadia Parish is 61,773. The parish was founded from parts of St...

. He relocated there in 1949 after his sister Audrey (who had moved there with her husband) told him there were few French-speaking attorneys in the southwestern Louisiana community.

Edwards' career was thus helped by his being bilingual and articulate in both English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 and Cajun French
Cajun French
Cajun French is a variety or dialects of the French language spoken primarily in Louisiana, specifically in the southern and southwestern parishes....

. He learned to cultivate the goodwill of the media, both working reporters and editorial page editors. One of his favorites was Adras LaBorde
Adras LaBorde
Adras Paul LaBorde, I , was a reporter, managing editor, and columnist for the Alexandria Daily Town Talk, the largest newspaper in central Louisiana. His career stretched from the mid-1940s into the early 1990s...

, longtime managing editor of the Alexandria Daily Town Talk
The Town Talk (Alexandria)
The Town Talk, started as The Daily Town Talk in 1883 and later named the Alexandria Daily Town Talk, is the major newspaper of Central Louisiana. It is published by Gannett in Alexandria, the seat of Rapides Parish and the economic center of Central Louisiana.The daily newspaper has a circulation...

in Alexandria
Alexandria, Louisiana
Alexandria is a city in and the parish seat of Rapides Parish, Louisiana, United States. It lies on the south bank of the Red River in almost the exact geographic center of the state. It is the principal city of the Alexandria metropolitan area which encompasses all of Rapides and Grant parishes....

. LaBorde even influenced Edwards in regard to environmental policy.

In 1949, Edwards married Elaine Schwartzenburg, whom he had met at Marksville High School. The couple had four children: Anna, Victoria, Stephen, and David.

Edwards entered politics through election to the Crowley City Council in 1954. He was a member of the Democratic Party which, in that era, had a monopoly on public offices in Louisiana. Edwards remained on the Crowley council until his election to the Louisiana state Senate in 1964; in that race he defeated 20-year incumbent Bill Cleveland in a major political upset.

After serving in the state Senate as a floor leader for governor John McKeithen
John McKeithen
John Julian McKeithen was the 49th Governor of Louisiana, serving from 1964 to 1972. A Democrat from the town of Columbia, he was the first governor of his state in the twentieth century to serve two consecutive terms...

, Edwards was elected to the United States House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

, where he served from 1965 to 1972. He won the congressional seat in a special election called when the incumbent
Incumbent
The incumbent, in politics, is the existing holder of a political office. This term is usually used in reference to elections, in which races can often be defined as being between an incumbent and non-incumbent. For example, in the 2004 United States presidential election, George W...

, T. Ashton Thompson
T. Ashton Thompson
Theo Ashton Thompson was a U.S. Representative from Louisiana.Born in Ville Platte in Evangeline Parish in south Louisiana, Thompson attended public schools and the Louisiana State University from 1932 to 1934, completing a course in higher accounting.Thompson was the traveling auditor for State...

 of Ville Platte
Ville Platte, Louisiana
Ville Platte is a city in and the parish seat of Evangeline Parish, Louisiana, United States. The population was 8,145 at the 2000 census. Its name is derived from the French ville plate, or "flat town."-History:...

, was killed in an automobile accident. Edwards was easily reelected to three full terms in the House in 1966, 1968 and 1970.

In 1968, he defeated Republican Vance William Plauche (born 1924) of Lake Charles, son of former one-term Democratic Congressman Vance Gabriel Plauche
Vance Plauche
Vance Gabriel Plauche was a Lake Charles attorney and civic leader who represented the Seventh Congressional District of Louisiana in the United States House of Representatives as a Democrat for a single term from 1941 to 1943....

 (1941–1943) with more than 80 percent of the general election
General election
In a parliamentary political system, a general election is an election in which all or most members of a given political body are chosen. The term is usually used to refer to elections held for a nation's primary legislative body, as distinguished from by-elections and local elections.The term...

 vote. While in Congress, Edwards served on the Public Works, Judiciary, and Internal Security committees. He also became known as one of the few Southern congressmen to support the extension of the Voting Rights Act
Voting Rights Act
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is a landmark piece of national legislation in the United States that outlawed discriminatory voting practices that had been responsible for the widespread disenfranchisement of African Americans in the U.S....

 of 1965.

1971–72 campaign for governor


In the election of 1971–1972
Louisiana gubernatorial election, 1971-72
The Louisiana gubernatorial election of 1971–1972 was held in three rounds. The two Democratic Party primaries were held on November 6 and December 8, 1971...

, Edwards won the governorship after finishing first in a field of seventeen candidates in the Democratic primary, including the final race of former governor Jimmie Davis and Gillis Long, a relative of Huey's. His greatest support came from southern Louisiana, particularly among its large numbers of Cajun, Creole, and African-American voters. In the first primary, Edwards led with 276,397 (23.8 percent). Bennett Johnston Jr (J. Bennett Johnston)., a state senator from Shreveport, followed with 208,830 (17.8 percent). In third place was former Congressman Gillis William Long
Gillis William Long
Gillis William Long was a Democratic U.S. Representative from Louisiana and member of the Long family. Long served seven non-consecutive terms in the United States House of Representatives but placed third in two campaigns for the Democratic gubernatorial nominations in 1963 and 1971...

 of Alexandria, with 164,276 (14 percent). Former Governor James Houston "Jimmie" Davis
Jimmie Davis
James Houston Davis , better known as Jimmie Davis, was a noted singer of both sacred and popular songs who served two nonconsecutive terms as the 47th Governor of Louisiana...

 was fourth with 138,756 (11.8 percent). Far to the rear of the pack was Congressman Speedy O. Long
Speedy O. Long
Speedy Oteria Long was a Jena lawyer who was a Democratic U.S. Representative from central Louisiana between 1965 and 1973. Prior to his tenure in the since disbanded Eighth Congressional District, Speedy Long had been a member of the Louisiana state Senate...

 of Jena
Jena
Jena is a university city in central Germany on the river Saale. It has a population of approx. 103,000 and is the second largest city in the federal state of Thuringia, after Erfurt.-History:Jena was first mentioned in an 1182 document...

 in rural La Salle Parish with only 61,359 (5.2 percent).

Both Edwards and Johnston ran on reform-oriented platforms during the primary, but Edwards was more adept at making political deals and building alliances for the runoff round of voting. Edwards said that the major philosophical difference that he held with Johnston was in regard to their "awareness of problems of the poor." Johnston won the endorsement of Edwards' legislative colleague, Joe D. Waggonner of Bossier Parish, but the Shreveport state senator declined to accept Edwards' offer of a televised debate between the two.

Edwards hence defeated Johnston in the runoff, 584,262 (50.2 percent) to 579,774 (49.8 percent), less than one vote per precinct. The victory showed that south Louisiana was eclipsing the north in both population and in the future political domination of the state.

On election night, Edwards gave public credit to the African American
African American
African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have at least partial ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa and are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans within the boundaries of the present United States...

 New Orleans political organization SOUL
Soul
A soul in certain spiritual, philosophical, and psychological traditions is the incorporeal essence of a person or living thing or object. Many philosophical and spiritual systems teach that humans have souls, and others teach that all living things and even inanimate objects have souls. The...

 for his extremely narrow victory, stating that the 12,000 vote lead SOUL had brought him in New Orleans had put him over the top. Such public recognition of black political power by a Democratic governor of Louisiana was unprecedented.

In the general election
General election
In a parliamentary political system, a general election is an election in which all or most members of a given political body are chosen. The term is usually used to refer to elections held for a nation's primary legislative body, as distinguished from by-elections and local elections.The term...

 held on February 1, 1972, Edwards faced Republican gubernatorial nominee David Treen, then of Metairie. He did not run as the candidate who would continue the Democratic policies of his predecessor, John McKeithen. In fact, he derided McKeithen as a "lame duck governor who doesn't want the new administration to do well. It'll make him look bad," considering a $30 million budget shortfall facing the next governor. Throughout the campaign, Edwards repeatedly insisted that Treen had no chance of victory. He said the climate was not right for a Republican governor in Louisiana. He ridiculed Treen as having "never held a public office. He has run for office four times and has been defeated all four times. He can't even generate enough enthusiasm in his home district [Jefferson Parish], where he is best known." He even accused Treen of having adopted Edwards' own reform platform characterized as the "Era of Excellence."

Though Treen ran a vigorous campaign, Louisiana's Democratic tradition favored Edwards from the start, as Edwards had predicted. Edwards polled 641,146 (57.2 percent) to Treen's 480,424 (42.8 percent). Edwards also overcame the south Louisiana "jinx" that had doomed former New Orleans Mayor deLesseps Story "Chep" Morrison, Sr., in his three gubernatorial bids.
He picked up the enthusiastic backing of his runoff rival, J. Bennett Johnston.

First two terms as governor, 1972–1980


Both in his liberal political rhetoric and in his flamboyant
Flaming
Flaming, also known as bashing, is hostile and insulting interaction between Internet users. Flaming usually occurs in the social context of an Internet forum, Internet Relay Chat , Usenet, by e-mail, game servers such as Xbox Live or Playstation Network, and on video-sharing websites...

 public persona, Edwards cast himself as a Louisiana populist
Populism
Populism can be defined as an ideology, political philosophy, or type of discourse. Generally, a common theme compares "the people" against "the elite", and urges social and political system changes. It can also be defined as a rhetorical style employed by members of various political or social...

 in the tradition of Huey P. Long and Earl K. Long. He was inaugurated as governor on May 9. One of his first acts was to call for a constitutional convention to overhaul Louisiana's bulky charter. Many of the sections on state government were written by delegate Robert G. Pugh
Robert G. Pugh
Robert Gahagan Pugh, Sr., known as Bob Pugh , was a prominent attorney in Shreveport, Louisiana, who, as his local bar association president in 1970–1971, initiated the first prepaid legal services plan in the United States...

, a prominent Shreveport attorney, who became an advisor to Edwards and two other governors thereafter. Voters approved the new constitution by a three-to-two margin in 1974, and government reorganization resulted. For the first time Louisiana operated with a "cabinet style" executive department in lieu of the hundreds of boards and commissions that had existed for decades, each its own fiefdom.

During his first two terms in office, Edwards developed a reputation for being one of the most colorful and flamboyant politicians in the history of a state known for its unorthodox political figures. Charismatic, well-dressed, and quick with clever one-liners and retorts, Edwards maintained wide popularity.

Edwards also depended heavily on Senator Sixty Rayburn
Sixty Rayburn
Benjamin Burras Rayburn, Sr., known as B. B. "Sixty" Rayburn , was a veteran politician from Bogalusa, an incorporated city in Washington Parish in southeastern Louisiana in the United States...

 of Bogalusa
Bogalusa, Louisiana
Bogalusa is a city in Washington Parish, Louisiana, United States. The population was 13,365 at the 2000 census. It is the principal city of the Bogalusa Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Washington Parish and is also part of the larger New Orleans–Metairie–Bogalusa...

, whose 44-year service earned him the sobriquet
Sobriquet
A sobriquet is a nickname, sometimes assumed, but often given by another. It is usually a familiar name, distinct from a pseudonym assumed as a disguise, but a nickname which is familiar enough such that it can be used in place of a real name without the need of explanation...

 as "Dean of the Louisiana Senate." He also rewarded political friends, such as former legislative colleague Fred L. Schiele, whom he appointed in 1973 to succeed the embattled Noah W. Cross
Noah W. Cross
Noah Webster Cross was a controversial Democratic sheriff from Ferriday in Concordia Parish in eastern Louisiana, who served from July 1, 1944 until July 1948 and again from July 1952 until April 4, 1973, when a conviction for perjury and a failed appeal forced him into federal prison. Cross was...

 as sheriff
Sheriff
A sheriff is in principle a legal official with responsibility for a county. In practice, the specific combination of legal, political, and ceremonial duties of a sheriff varies greatly from country to country....

 of Concordia Parish in eastern Louisiana.

Policies and achievements


After enduring three grueling rounds of voting in the 1971–72 campaign, Edwards pushed a bill through the Legislature that limited state elections to two rounds by having Democratic, Republican, and independent candidates run together on the same ballot in an open primary. Ironically, though the jungle primary
Jungle primary
A nonpartisan blanket primary is a primary election in which all candidates for elected office run in the same primary regardless of political party. Under this system, the top two candidates who receive the most votes advance to the next round, as in a runoff election...

 system was intended to benefit Edwards' own political career, many observers cite it as being a major factor in the rise of the state's Republican party and the creation of a genuinely competitive two-party system. For this, Edwards was christened "father of Louisiana's Republican Party."

In his first term as governor, Edwards initiated the creation of the first new constitution
Constitution
A constitution is a set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is governed. These rules together make up, i.e. constitute, what the entity is...

 for Louisiana in fifty years. He intended to replace the Constitution of 1921, an unwieldy and outmoded document burdened with hundreds of amendments. A constitutional convention was held in 1973; the resulting document was put into effect in 1975. , the 1973 Constitution remains in effect. Edwards also undertook a major reorganization of the state government, abolishing over 80 state agencies and modeling the remaining structure after that of the federal government.

In his first year in office, Edwards appointed his wife Elaine S. Edwards
Elaine S. Edwards
Elaine Schwartzenburg Edwards is a former interim member of the United States Senate and the first wife of Edwin Washington Edwards, making her a former First Lady of Louisiana....

, also a native of Avoyelles Parish, to complete the Senate term of the deceased Allen J. Ellender
Allen J. Ellender
Allen Joseph Ellender was a popular U.S. senator from Houma, Louisiana , who served from 1937 until his death. He was a Democrat who was originally allied with the legendary Huey Pierce Long, Jr.. As Senator he compiled a generally conservative record, voting 77% of the time with the Conservative...

. Mrs. Edwards served from August–November 1972, and during that time, the small town of Crowley boasted the governor, a U.S. Senator, and a U.S. Representative (former Edwards aide John Breaux
John Breaux
John Berlinger Breaux is a former United States senator from Louisiana who served from 1987 until 2005. He was also a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1972 to 1987. He was considered one of the more conservative national legislators from the Democratic Party...

), who all lived within a few blocks of each other.

An outspoken supporter of civil rights, Edwards was the first Louisiana governor since Reconstruction to appoint blacks and women to high positions in his administration.

Edwards' tenure in the 1970s coincided with a huge boom in the states' oil and gas industry after the gas pricing crisis of 1973. Edwards was able to greatly expand the state's oil revenues by basing severance tax
Severance tax
Severance taxes are incurred when non-renewable natural resources are separated from a taxing jurisdiction. Industries that typically incur such taxes are oil and gas, coal, mining, and timber industries....

es on a percentage of the price of each barrel rather than the former flat rate. This oil money fueled a massive increase in state spending (an 163% increase between 1972 and 1980), and Edwards was able to consistently balance the state budget due to the boom in oil revenue. Much of this increased spending went toward health and human services program and increased funding for vocational-technical schools and higher education.

Edwards easily won reelection in 1975, with 750,107 votes (62.3 percent). In second place was Democratic State Senator Robert G. "Bob" Jones of Lake Charles
Lake Charles, Louisiana
Lake Charles is the fifth-largest incorporated city in the U.S. state of Louisiana, located on Lake Charles, Prien Lake, and the Calcasieu River. Located in Calcasieu Parish, a major cultural, industrial, and educational center in the southwest region of the state, and one of the most important in...

, son of former Governor Sam Houston Jones
Sam H. Jones
--4.230.222.169 Sam Houston Jones was the 46th Governor of Louisiana from 1940 to 1944. He defeated the renowned Earl Kemp Long in the 1940 Democratic primary. Long turned the tables on Jones and defeated him in the 1948 party primary.-Early life:Sam Jones was born in Merryville in Beauregard...

, with 292,220 (24.3 percent). Secretary of State Wade O. Martin, Jr.
Wade O. Martin, Jr.
Wade Omer Martin, Jr. was the Democratic Secretary of State of Louisiana under five governors, having served from 1944 to 1976...

, ran third with 146,363 (12.2 percent). Thereafter, both Jones and Martin became Republicans.

Early scandals


Though arguably minor compared to the Edwards scandals of the 1980s and 1990s, the governor was embroiled in several ethics controversies during his first two terms in office. At the time, Edwards was remarkably candid about his questionable practices. When questioned about receiving illegal campaign contributions, he replied that “It was illegal for them to give, but not for me to receive.” He also insisted he saw no problem with investing in a proposed New Orleans office building called "One Edwards Square" (it was never actually named that) while still governor, and demonstrated his gambling prowess to the press on one of his frequent gambling trips to Las Vegas
Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Nevada and is also the county seat of Clark County, Nevada. Las Vegas is an internationally renowned major resort city for gambling, shopping, and fine dining. The city bills itself as The Entertainment Capital of the World, and is famous...

. Later, Edwards' commissioner of administration Charles Roemer father of future governor Buddy Roemer
Buddy Roemer
Charles Elson "Buddy" Roemer III is an American politician who served as the 52nd Governor of Louisiana, from 1988 to 1992. He was elected as a Democrat but switched to the Republican Party on March 11, 1991...

 – was convicted of taking bribes and having connections with Mafia
Mafia
The Mafia is a criminal syndicate that emerged in the mid-nineteenth century in Sicily, Italy. It is a loose association of criminal groups that share a common organizational structure and code of conduct, and whose common enterprise is protection racketeering...

 boss Carlos Marcello
Carlos Marcello
Carlos "The Little Man" Marcello was a Sicilian-American mafioso who became the boss of the New Orleans crime family during the 1940s and held this position for the next 30 years.-Early life:...

. Edwards managed to avoid direct implication in the Roemer case.

During the governor's first term, a disaffected former Edwards associate named Clyde Vidrine
Clyde Vidrine
Clyde Vidrine was a bodyguard for 4 term Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards. He became famous for making first accusations about the governor's elaborate Las Vegas trips, and his infidelity to his wife...

 made several high-profile accusations of corruption, including the sale of state agency posts. The accusations were investigated by a grand jury, but Edwards managed to successfully attack Vidrine's credibility and the investigation stalled. Later, Vidrine published a tell-all book called Just Takin’ Orders, which included salacious details of Edwards' frequent gambling trips and extramarital escapades. Vidrine was later murdered in broad daylight on the courthouse steps in Shreveport.

In 1976 scandal known as Koreagate
Koreagate
"Koreagate" was an American political scandal in 1976 involving South Korean political figures seeking influence from 10 Democratic members of Congress. An immediate goal of the scandal seems to have been reversing President Richard Nixon's decision to withdraw troops from South Korea...

, it came to light that Edwards and his wife Elaine had received questionable gifts in 1971, while Edwards was still a U.S. Congressman. South Korean rice broker Tongsun Park was under investigation for trying to bribe American legislators on behalf of the South Korean government, and for making millions of dollars in commissions on American purchases of South Korean rice. Edwards admitted that Park gave Elaine an envelope containing $10,000 in cash, but insisted that the gift was given out of friendship and that there was nothing improper about it. In the course of the controversy, Edwards stated that he thought it was “super moralistic” for the U.S. government to prohibit American businessmen to accept gifts from foreign officials in the course of their business dealings.

First political comeback: Edwards vs. Treen, 1983


Barred by the state constitution from seeking a third term immediately after his second, Edwards temporarily left politics in 1979 but made it clear he would run again in 1983. He began raising money and touring the state years before the 1983 election, maintaining what supporters called "the government in waiting."

In 1979, Republican reformer David Treen was narrowly elected governor. Edwards had supported Treen's opponent, Democratic Public Service Commissioner Louis Lambert
Louis Lambert
Louis Joseph Lambert, Jr. , is a Louisiana attorney, businessman, former member and chairman of the Louisiana Public Service Commission, and a former Louisiana state senator....

 of Ascension Parish. In 1983, Edwards defeated Treen's re-election attempt. The election offered a clear contrast between the flamboyant, charismatic Edwards and the low-key, policy-oriented Treen. Treen focussed on Edward's reputation for corruption and dishonesty, while Edwards sought to portray Treen as incompetent and unresponsive to the public. The two major candidates spent over $18 million dollars between them; the election became renowned as one of the most expensive campaigns ever conducted in a state Louisiana's size. John Maginnis
John Maginnis (Louisiana political writer)
John Maginnis is a writer of columns and commentaries on current political events in Louisiana. His column, always about the latest political event in Louisiana, appears in newspapers and other sources around the state. His web site is read by political analysts nationwide as a barometer of...

' 1984 book, The Last Hayride, chronicles this colorful campaign.

Before election day, Edwards joked with reporters: "The only way I can lose this election is if I'm caught in bed with either a dead girl or a live boy". Edwards zinged Treen many times, once describing Treen as "so slow it takes him an hour and a half to watch 60 Minutes
60 Minutes
60 Minutes is an American television news magazine, which has run on CBS since 1968. The program was created by producer Don Hewitt who set it apart by using a unique style of reporter-centered investigation....

." During a gubernatorial debate in 1983, Treen asked Edwards, "How come you talk out of both sides of your mouth?" Edwards instantly responded, "So people like you with only half a brain can understand me."

Then Shreveport Journal editor Stanley R. Tiner
Stanley R. Tiner
Stanley Ray Tiner has since May 2000 been the executive editor and vice president of The Sun Herald newspaper in Biloxi-Gulfport, Mississippi. He previously served briefly as the executive editor of The Daily Oklahoman in Oklahoma City and as editor of the Press-Register in Mobile, Alabama...

 reported after the campaign of 1983 that Edwards disbelieves in the resurrection
Resurrection
Resurrection refers to the literal coming back to life of the biologically dead. It is used both with respect to particular individuals or the belief in a General Resurrection of the dead at the end of the world. The General Resurrection is featured prominently in Jewish, Christian, and Muslim...

 of Jesus Christ and does not personally expect to go to heaven
Heaven
Heaven, the Heavens or Seven Heavens, is a common religious cosmological or metaphysical term for the physical or transcendent place from which heavenly beings originate, are enthroned or inhabit...

. There was an uproar in conservative religious circles, but the comments did not stop Edwards from finishing his term or winning a fourth election eight years thereafter.

After his 1983 victory, Edwards took some six hundred supporters on an eight-day tour of France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

, including dinner at Versailles
Versailles
Versailles , a city renowned for its château, the Palace of Versailles, was the de facto capital of the kingdom of France for over a century, from 1682 to 1789. It is now a wealthy suburb of Paris and remains an important administrative and judicial centre...

 and gambling in Monte Carlo
Monte Carlo
Monte Carlo is an administrative area of the Principality of Monaco....

. Each paid $10,000. Edwards expected a 70 percent profit on the contributors' tickets to retire a whopping $4.2 million campaign debt. Campaign style bumper stickers were printed that were distributed to those who contributed to the retirement of this campaign debt that were seen on vehicles in Louisiana for years afterward that read, in hi blue and gold campaign colors, "I did Paris with the Gov."

Third term as governor, 1984–1988


The third Edwards administration went badly by all accounts. The oil money that fueled the success of Edwards's first two terms was in short supply in the third term. His oil severance tax restructuring came back to hurt him as plummeting oil prices led to massive shortages in the state treasury. In 1984, Edwards attempted to deal with the erosion of state revenue by approving $730 million worth of new personal taxes. The Legislature passed these taxes into law, but the taxes were highly unpopular and damaged his level of public support. Much of Edwards' support in the 1970s had been a result of his high levels of social spending during times of economic prosperity; with these economic conditions gone, his popularity waned.

The John Volz indictment and trials


In February 1985, soon after his third term began, Edwards was forced to stand trial on charges of mail fraud, obstruction of justice, and bribery, brought by U.S. Attorney John Volz
John Volz
John Volz Sr. was a prominent Louisiana lawyer. He served as United States Attorney of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana under both President Jimmy Carter, a Democrat, and President Ronald Reagan, a Republican.In the 1980s Volz prosecuted reputed Mafia boss...

. The charges were centered around an alleged scheme in which Edwards and his associates received almost two million dollars in exchange for granting preferential treatment to companies dealing with state hospitals. Edwards proclaimed his innocence and insisted that the charges were politically motivated by Volz and the Republican party. The first trial resulted in a mistrial in December 1985, while a second trial in 1986 resulted in an acquittal. Edwards later recited during a toast at a French Quarter
French Quarter
The French Quarter, also known as Vieux Carré, is the oldest neighborhood in the city of New Orleans. When New Orleans was founded in 1718 by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, the city was originally centered on the French Quarter, or the Vieux Carré as it was known then...

 bar, though his beverage was non alcoholic as he did not drink, a rhyming invitation for Volz to "kiss my ass". The trials were rather lengthy, and at one point during the first trial but before the mistrial the governor rode to the Hale Boggs U.S. Courthouse on a mule from his hotel. When asked by reporters why he did so, he replied something to the effect that it was symbolic of the speed and intellect of the federal judicial system, but also that he supported 'tradition.' His brother, Marion Edwards, an attorney, often wearing a pinstrip suit with a top hat and cane, would also hold comedic press briefings at the end of each court session on the steps of the courthouse in New Orleans mocking the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney Volz and United States Judge Marcel Livaudais, who presided over the trials.

Even after successfully beating the Volz indictment, Edwin Edwards' popularity was in decline. Despite his acquittal, the trial brought many sordid details of Edwards' conduct under public scrutiny. It was revealed that during frequent gambling trips to Las Vegas, Edwards lost hundreds of thousands of dollars under aliases such as T. Wong and E. Lee, later paying these gambling debts using suitcases stuffed with cash of unknown origin.

After the trial, Edwards' support for the legalization of gambling as a solution to the state's severe revenue shortages contributed to a further decline in his popularity. He had made unpopular budget cuts to education and other social programs earlier in his term. Beginning in January 1986, he argued that legalizing casino gambling in up to 15 locations and creating a state lottery
Louisiana Lottery (modern)
- History :The Louisiana Lottery Corporation began in 1991, after the 1990 Louisiana legislature proposed a government-run lottery as a way to generate revenue without increasing taxes...

 would be a way to restore the cut programs, but the state legislature rejected his gambling proposals. Entering a tough re-election campaign in 1987, Edwards seemed vulnerable. Going into the election, his disapproval ratings ranged from 52 to 71 percent.

Defeat: Edwards vs. Roemer, 1987


Several notable candidates lined up to face Edwards in the 1987 gubernatorial election
Louisiana gubernatorial election, 1987
The Louisiana gubernatorial election of 1987 resulted in the election of Buddy Roemer as governor of Louisiana.- Background :Elections in Louisiana—with the exception of U.S. presidential elections—follow a variation of the open primary system called the jungle primary...

. Perhaps his strongest early challenger was Republican Congressman Bob Livingston
Bob Livingston
Robert Linlithgow "Bob" Livingston Jr. is a Washington, D.C.-based lobbyist and a former Republican U.S. Representative from Louisiana...

. Also in the race were Billy Tauzin
Billy Tauzin
Wilbert Joseph Tauzin II , usually known as Billy Tauzin, American lobbyist and politician of Cajun descent, was President and CEO of PhRMA, a pharmaceutical company lobby group...

, a then-Democratic Cajun congressman, Democratic Secretary of State Jim Brown, and a Democratic congressman from north Louisiana, Buddy Roemer
Buddy Roemer
Charles Elson "Buddy" Roemer III is an American politician who served as the 52nd Governor of Louisiana, from 1988 to 1992. He was elected as a Democrat but switched to the Republican Party on March 11, 1991...

, who climbed up from a series of very low early-campaign polls.

Louis J. Roussel, Jr.
Louis J. Roussel, Jr.
Louis J. Roussel, Jr. , was a powerful businessman and political kingmaker from New Orleans, Louisiana....

, a businessman from New Orleans who began his career as a bus driver, contributed $600,000 to Edwards in the losing race in 1987. Roussel had formerly been a large donor to Bill Dodd, whose son, William Ford Dodd, ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in the 1987 primary election.

"Anyone But Edwards"


Edwin was the issue of the campaign. Because of his name recognition, his resilient supporters, and unmatched political skill, even a weakened Edwards could safely assume he would win a place in Louisiana's unique primary election system runoff. The question was whether his opponent in the runoff would be someone who could beat him.

There was a prevailing sense in the race that Edwards needed Livingston in the runoff. Livingston was a Republican in a state that had at that point elected only one Republican governor since Reconstruction. And Livingston was widely perceived as lacking in charisma and personality, which would work to Edwards's advantage. Any other opponent, a moderate Democrat without the ethical problems, would be dangerous. To that end, Edwards talked up Livingston. It didn't work. Perhaps the key moment in the 1987 race came at a forum between the candidates. As usual, the main topic of discussion was Edwin Edwards. His challengers were asked, in succession, if they would consider endorsing Edwards in the general election if they didn't make it to the runoff. The candidates hedged, particularly Secretary of State Brown. The last candidate to speak was Buddy Roemer: "No, we've got to slay the dragon. I would endorse anyone but Edwards." The next day, as political commentator John Maginnis
John Maginnis (Louisiana political writer)
John Maginnis is a writer of columns and commentaries on current political events in Louisiana. His column, always about the latest political event in Louisiana, appears in newspapers and other sources around the state. His web site is read by political analysts nationwide as a barometer of...

 put it, Jim Brown was explaining his statement while Buddy Roemer was ordering "Slay the Dragon" buttons. Boosted by his endorsement as the ‘good government candidate’ by nearly every newspaper in the state, Roemer stormed from last place in the polls and on election night, overtook Edwin Edwards and placed first in the primary election, with 33% of the vote compared with Edwards' 28%. This marked the first and last time Edwin Edwards ever finished other than first in an election.

In what seemed to be the end of Edwards' political career, the governor withdrew from the contest in his concession speech, automatically electing Buddy Roemer
Buddy Roemer
Charles Elson "Buddy" Roemer III is an American politician who served as the 52nd Governor of Louisiana, from 1988 to 1992. He was elected as a Democrat but switched to the Republican Party on March 11, 1991...

 governor. In fact, he was cleverly setting a trap for Roemer. By withdrawing, Edwards denied Roemer the opportunity to build a governing coalition in the general election race, and denied him the decisive majority victory that he surely would have attained. In one stroke, Edwards made Buddy Roemer a minority governor. Also, Edwards virtually ceded control of the state to Roemer even before his inauguration. By doing so, he passed on the burden of the state's problems to the new governor, who was essentially under the gun even before assuming office. For four years, Roemer struggled to be a reform governor of Louisiana as so many had before him. And although virtually no one realized it at the time, Edwin Edwards quietly waited in the wings for his shot at redemption.

A second comeback: Edwards vs. Duke, 1991


As the 1991 governor's race
Louisiana gubernatorial election, 1991
The Louisiana gubernatorial election of 1991 resulted in the election of Edwin Edwards to his fourth non-consecutive term as governor of Louisiana...

 drew near, many of Edwards' friends encouraged him to abandon his planned comeback, believing that he had no chance to win. After Edwards' loss in 1987, a journalist for the defunct Shreveport Journal wrote that the only way Edwin Edwards could ever be elected again was to run against Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

. Some considered these words to have a prophetic cast, since after the 1991 primary Edwards discovered his runoff opponent to be David Duke
David Duke
David Ernest Duke is a former Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan an American activist and writer, and former Republican Louisiana State Representative. He was also a former candidate in the Republican presidential primaries in 1992, and in the Democratic presidential primaries in...

, the highly controversial white supremacist politician, and former Ku Klux Klan
Ku Klux Klan
Ku Klux Klan, often abbreviated KKK and informally known as the Klan, is the name of three distinct past and present far-right organizations in the United States, which have advocated extremist reactionary currents such as white supremacy, white nationalism, and anti-immigration, historically...

 leader. Edwards received 34 percent of the vote while Duke received 32 percent. Governor Roemer placed third, 80,000 votes behind Duke.

The runoff between a white supremacist and a former governor who was widely considered corrupt but was also minority-friendly, gained national attention. Support for Edwards grew in between the primary and the runoff. The interest group, the Louisiana Coalition against Racism and Nazism appeared to challenge Duke, with its leadership including the longtime Treen supporter, Beth Rickey
Beth Rickey
Elizabeth Ann "Beth" Rickey was a Republican political activist from Louisiana who exposed the neo-Nazi connections of former State Representative David Duke, who ran for the U.S...

, a member of the Republican State Central Committee from New Orleans. The coalition claimed to present evidence that Duke was still involved in neo-Nazi activities.

Faced with the alternative of Duke, many who were otherwise lukewarm for Edwards found him looking ever better. Edwards found himself receiving endorsements from both Treen and Roemer; even Republican President Bush urged that Edwards, the Democrat, was a better choice than Duke, a putative Republican. A very popular bumper sticker urging support for Edwards (although clearly not produced by his campaign) read "Vote For the Crook. It's Important." Another read "Vote for the Lizard, not the Wizard
Grand Wizard
Grand Wizard was the title given to the leader of the Reconstruction-era Ku Klux Klan which existed from 1866 to 1871.In 1915, the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan was created, initially as a fraternal organization. The highest-ranking leader of the latter organization was the Imperial Wizard. National...

." Edwards said that this would be his final term as governor and that he cared about leaving a good legacy, which made many hope that the corruption of his previous administrations would not be repeated. Edwards won by a wide margin. Continuing his artful use of humor to deflate an opponent, and referring to his considerable reputation as a Lothario, Edwards said of Duke, "The only thing we have in common is that we both have been wizards beneath the sheets." When a reporter asked Edwards what he needed to do to triumph over Duke, Edwards replied with a smile: "Stay alive." On Election Day, Edwards defeated Duke in a landslide, 61% to 39%, a margin of nearly 400,000 votes.

Fourth term as governor, 1992–1996


In his last term, Edwards asked his boyhood friend, Raymond Laborde
Raymond Laborde
Raymond Julian Laborde, I , is a department store owner and a retired Democratic politician in his native Marksville, the seat of Avoyelles Parish in south Central Louisiana. He was the mayor of Marksville from 1958–1970 and thereafter served five terms from 1972–1992 in the Louisiana House of...

, to leave the state House after twenty years to serve as commissioner of administration. Laborde, who had once defeated Edwards for class president at Marksville High School and had earlier been his legislative floor leader, agreed to join the administration. He invited former Representative Kevin P. Reilly, Sr.
Kevin Reilly (Louisiana politician)
Kevin Patrick Reilly, Sr. , a retired businessman and active philanthropist from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is the former executive officer of the Lamar Advertising Company who served in the Louisiana House of Representatives from District 68 between 1972 and 1988...

, of Baton Rouge, former CEO of Lamar Advertising Company
Lamar Advertising Company
The Lamar Advertising Company , based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is a provider of billboards, transit advertising, and highway logo signs. Founded in 1902, Lamar currently operates over 150 outdoor advertising companies in more than 40 states and Puerto Rico...

 to serve as secretary of economic development. Reilly had been removed in 1986 as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee after having criticized Edwards.

In the last term, Edwards promoted casino
Casino
In modern English, a casino is a facility which houses and accommodates certain types of gambling activities. Casinos are most commonly built near or combined with hotels, restaurants, retail shopping, cruise ships or other tourist attractions...

 gambling
Gambling
Gambling is the wagering of money or something of material value on an event with an uncertain outcome with the primary intent of winning additional money and/or material goods...

 in Louisiana, which had been a major part of his platform in the 1991 campaign. In June 1992, his heavy lobbying led the state legislature to pass a bill calling for a single large land-based casino in New Orleans. He also appointed a board that, at his private direction, awarded 15 floating riverboat casinos that had been authorized by the Legislature and the Roemer administration. He appointed a political ally, Paul Fontenot, to head the State Police; he would oversee the licensing and investigation of casino operators. On another front he again demonstrated his broad commitment to civil rights by becoming the first Southern governor to issue an executive order protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered persons from discrimination in state governmental services, employment and contracts.

Despite the discovery that some licensees had links to organized crime or other unsavory ties, Edwards blocked the revocation of their licenses. But a political backlash against gambling-related corruption began. Though he had originally planned to run for re-election in 1995, he announced in June 1994, shortly after marrying his second wife Candy Picou, that he would be retiring from politics at the end of his term. Edwards was succeeded as governor by State Senator Mike Foster, who ran as an opponent of gambling interests. Edwards retired to a newly purchased home in Baton Rouge, intent on returning to a private law practice and living out his remaining days in contentment with his young wife, Candy (born 1964).

Ron Gomez
Ron Gomez
Ronald James Gomez, Sr., known as Ron Gomez , is a veteran print and broadcast journalist, author , and businessman from Lafayette, Louisiana, who served in the Louisiana House of Representatives from Lafayette Parish, from 1980-1989. From 1990-1992, he was the secretary of natural resources in...

, whose second term in the legislature corresponded with Edwards' third term as governor, describes Edwards, accordingly:

"Somehow, his brashness and arrogance over the years, traits that would have destroyed the average politician, have only seemed to endear him to his core constituency: minorities, organized labor, Cajuns and lower-income voters. It is exactly those groups who suffered the most over the quarter of a century he was in and out of the governor's office. Except for some black leaders who attached themselves to his entourage and gained political clout and monetary rewards through favors and appointments, the minority population as a whole has made very little progress culturally, educationally or socially because of his leadership."

Gomez continued:

"Organized labor, once a powerful force in the state, has fallen to its lowest membership in history. And, overall, when he finally left office in 1996, the state was near the bottom in teacher pay and college and university funding (among other things). It was also near the top in high school dropouts, teen pregnancies, welfare recipients, prison population and virtually every other negative category."

Indictment and conviction


After being fingered by Texas for-profit prison entrepreneur Patrick Graham, who allegedly gave him $845,000 in conjunction with a scheme to locate a private juvenile prison in Jena
Jena, Louisiana
Jena is a town in and the parish seat of La Salle Parish, Louisiana, United States. The population was 2,971 at the 2000 census.In September 2006, Jena became the focus of national news stories in the United States for a racial controversy involving its school system and a group of students known...

 in La Salle Parish, Edwards was indicted in 1998 by the federal government with prosecution led by U.S. Attorney Eddie Jordan
Eddie Jordan (attorney)
Eddie Jack Jordan, Jr. , was the district attorney for Orleans Parish, Louisiana from 2003 until 2007, when he resigned. A member of the Democratic Party, Jordan was the first African American to have held the elected position. He announced his resignation on October 30, 2007, when a court rendered...

. The prosecution soon released transcripts of audio conversations, as well as excerpts of video surveillance that seemed to indicate dubious financial transactions. The Edwards investigation also tarnished the reputation of San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers are a professional American football team based in San Francisco, California, playing in the West Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League . The team was founded in 1946 as a charter member of the All-America Football Conference and...

 owner Edward J. DeBartolo Jr., who admitted to paying Edwards $400,000 in exchange for Edwards's assistance in securing a casino license.

Edwards was found guilty on 17 of 26 counts, including racketeering, extortion
Extortion
Extortion is a criminal offence which occurs when a person unlawfully obtains either money, property or services from a person, entity, or institution, through coercion. Refraining from doing harm is sometimes euphemistically called protection. Extortion is commonly practiced by organized crime...

, money laundering
Money laundering
Money laundering is the process of disguising illegal sources of money so that it looks like it came from legal sources. The methods by which money may be laundered are varied and can range in sophistication. Many regulatory and governmental authorities quote estimates each year for the amount...

, mail fraud and wire fraud
Wire fraud
Mail and wire fraud is a federal crime in the United States. Together, 18 U.S.C. §§ 1341, 1343, and 1346 reach any fraudulent scheme or artifice to intentionally deprive another of property or honest services with a nexus to mail or wire communication....

; his son Stephen was convicted on 18 counts. "I did not do anything wrong as a governor, even if you accept the verdict as it is, it doesn't indicate that," Edwards told the press after his conviction. On his way to prison he said, "I will be a model prisoner, as I have been a model citizen". From 2002 to 2004 Edwin Edwards was incarcerated at the Federal Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas
Fort Worth is the 16th-largest city in the United States of America and the fifth-largest city in the state of Texas. Located in North Central Texas, just southeast of the Texas Panhandle, the city is a cultural gateway into the American West and covers nearly in Tarrant, Parker, Denton, and...

.

Edwards' sometime co-consprirator, Cecil Brown, a Eunice cattleman, was convicted for his part in the payoffs in 2002.

In 2004, Edwards filed for divorce from his second wife Candy, saying that Mrs. Edwards had "suffered enough" during his incarceration. In June 2005, the former Mrs. Edwards was arrested for threatening a police officer at a traffic stop in Port Barre, screaming "don't you know who I am?"

In 2005, Edwards was moved to the Federal Correctional Institution in Oakdale, Louisiana
Oakdale, Louisiana
Oakdale is a small city in Allen Parish, Louisiana, United States. The population was 8,137 at the 2000 census.Oakdale was founded as "Dunnsville" by William T. Dunn...

, where he served his sentence as inmate #03128-095. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons
Federal Bureau of Prisons
The Federal Bureau of Prisons is a federal law enforcement agency subdivision of the United States Department of Justice and is responsible for the administration of the federal prison system. The system also handles prisoners who committed acts considered felonies under the District of Columbia's...

, he was scheduled to be released on July 6, 2011. Efforts have been underway since his imprisonment to obtain a presidential pardon or commutation
Commutation of sentence
Commutation of sentence involves the reduction of legal penalties, especially in terms of imprisonment. Unlike a pardon, a commutation does not nullify the conviction and is often conditional. Clemency is a similar term, meaning the lessening of the penalty of the crime without forgiving the crime...

 for Edwards, whose 80th birthday was August 7, 2007. Among those supporting the pardon effort are David Treen and Shreveport automobile
Automobile
An automobile, autocar, motor car or car is a wheeled motor vehicle used for transporting passengers, which also carries its own engine or motor...

 dealer Ed Powell. Former President George H. W. Bush
George H. W. Bush
George Herbert Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 41st President of the United States . He had previously served as the 43rd Vice President of the United States , a congressman, an ambassador, and Director of Central Intelligence.Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts, to...

 also supported commuting Edwards' sentence to time served and wrote a letter to the pardon board of then-President George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

. However, Bush denied a pardon for Edwards before leaving office in January 2009.

In 2009, Edwards was listed as an "honorary pallbearer" at the funeral of perennial political candidate L. D. Knox
L. D. Knox
Luther Divine Knox, Sr. , known as L.D. Knox, or "None of the Above" Knox, or Nota Knox , was a colorful politician from Winnsboro, the seat of Franklin Parish in northeastern Louisiana, who attracted national media attention in 1979 when he legally changed his name to "None of the Above" Knox to...

 of Winnsboro
Winnsboro, Louisiana
Winnsboro is a city in and the parish seat of Franklin Parish, Louisiana, United States. As of July 2009, the estimated city population was 4,377...

, who in the 1979 gubernatorial contest, when Edwards was not on the ballot, legally changed his name to "None of the Above" Knox to dramatize his support for the "None of the Above" option in elections.

On January 13, 2011, Edwards was released from prison and served the remainder of his sentence at a halfway house
Halfway house
The purpose of a halfway house, also called a recovery house or sober house, is generally to allow people to begin the process of reintegration with society, while still providing monitoring and support; this is generally believed to reduce the risk of recidivism or relapse when compared to a...

.

Personal life


In 1949 Edwards married Elaine Schwartzenburg aka Elaine Edwards (born 1929). While Governor he appointed Elaine to the Senate to fill out the unfinished term of Allen Ellender, who died while in office. He said he trusted her experience. They had four children: Anna Edwards, Victoria Edwards, Stephen Edwards and David Edwards. On July 1, 1989, the couple divorced after forty years of marriage. They had begun living apart on March 15, 1989.

In 1994, Edwards married the much younger Candy Picou (born 1964). In 1997, the couple entered the headlines when they attempted to have a child. Edwin had his vasectomy
Vasectomy
Vasectomy is a surgical procedure for male sterilization and/or permanent birth control. During the procedure, the vasa deferentia of a man are severed, and then tied/sealed in a manner such to prevent sperm from entering into the seminal stream...

 reversed and the couple froze sperm to attempt to have a baby. Their efforts ended with his legal trouble. Edwin suggested divorce to his wife after his indictment but she wouldn't hear of it. While in prison Edwin Edwards filed for divorce. The divorce was finalized in 2004 during Edward's prison tenure. Candy and Edwin Edwards are still close friends, and she visits him often in prison. In 2006, Candy Edwards gave birth to a child named Harrison Arthur Picou Low. The father is Brian Low (born 1975). Low and Candy are not married, and she is still single. Candy has said that she brought the child to the prison on one of her visits with her for Edwin to see him. She said that he is very supportive of her. Candy Edwards continues to use her married name and works as a real estate agent. When asked if she and Edwin would ever get back together after his release from prison she said that "anything could happen".

Edwin stated that Mrs. Edwards had suffered enough during his prison tenure, in his reasoning for ending the marriage. In 2005, Mrs. Edwards was arrested for a traffic violation involving speeding, driving under a suspended license, and resisting an officer.

On July 29, 2011, Edwards married then 32-year-old Trina Grimes Scott at the Monteleone Hotel in New Orleans.

Edwards' record of longevity


Few governors have served four four-year terms. Edwards hence joins the late George C. Wallace
George Wallace
George Corley Wallace, Jr. was the 45th Governor of Alabama, serving four terms: 1963–1967, 1971–1979 and 1983–1987. "The most influential loser" in 20th-century U.S. politics, according to biographers Dan T. Carter and Stephan Lesher, he ran for U.S...

 of Alabama
Alabama
Alabama is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama ranks 30th in total land area and ranks second in the size of its inland...

, Jim Hunt
Jim Hunt
James Baxter Hunt Jr. is an American politician who was the 69th and 71st Governor of the state of North Carolina . He is the longest-serving governor in the state's history.-Early life:...

 of North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

, Bill Janklow
Bill Janklow
William John "Bill" Janklow served as the 25th Attorney General of South Dakota, before being elected as South Dakota's 27th and 30th Governor, as well as to the United States House of Representatives where he served for a little more than a year. A Republican, Janklow's career has continued as a...

 of South Dakota
South Dakota
South Dakota is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States. It is named after the Lakota and Dakota Sioux American Indian tribes. Once a part of Dakota Territory, South Dakota became a state on November 2, 1889. The state has an area of and an estimated population of just over...

, Terry Branstad of Iowa
Iowa
Iowa is a state located in the Midwestern United States, an area often referred to as the "American Heartland". It derives its name from the Ioway people, one of the many American Indian tribes that occupied the state at the time of European exploration. Iowa was a part of the French colony of New...

 and Jim Rhodes
Jim Rhodes
James Allen Rhodes was an American Republican politician from Ohio, and one of only five US state governors to serve four four-year terms in office. As governor in 1970, he decided to send National Guard troops onto the Kent State University campus, resulting in the shooting of students on May 4...

 of Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

 as 16-year governors. Terry Branstad in 2010 was elected to a fifth term as governor of Iowa. Former Vice President of the United States Nelson A. Rockefeller would also have been among the long-term incumbents had he not resigned at the end of 1973, with a year left in his term as governor of New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

; Tommy Thompson
Tommy Thompson
Thomas George "Tommy" Thompson , a United States Republican politician, was the 42nd Governor of Wisconsin, after which he served as U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. Thompson was a candidate for the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election, but dropped out early after a poor performance in polls...

 of Wisconsin
Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States and is part of the Midwest. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin's capital is...

 would have also served sixteen years had he not resigned halfway into his fourth term to become George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

's initial Secretary of Health and Human Services
United States Secretary of Health and Human Services
The United States Secretary of Health and Human Services is the head of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, concerned with health matters. The Secretary is a member of the President's Cabinet...

. James R. Thompson
James R. Thompson
James Robert Thompson, Jr. , also known as Big Jim Thompson, was the 37th and longest serving Governor of the US state of Illinois...

 of Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

 was elected to four consecutive terms, but the first of them was a special two-year term because Illinois was moving its gubernatorial elections from the Presidential year to the midterm year..

When the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame
Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame
The Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield, Louisiana, highlights the careers of more than a hundred of the state’s leading politicians and political journalists. Because three governors, Huey P. Long, Jr., Oscar K...

 opened in Winnfield
Winnfield, Louisiana
Winnfield is a city in and the parish seat of Winn Parish, Louisiana, United States. The population was 5,749 at the 2000 census. It has long been associated with the Long faction of the Louisiana Democratic Party and was home to three governors of Louisiana.-Geography:Winnfield is located at ...

in 1993, Edwards was among the first class of inductees.