“Get those texts and you will see that Mike Edmonson knew the whereabouts of those four the entire trip,” our source said. “They were texting each other every mile of that trip. The four in the vehicle even sent photos.”
So, it was no surprise when The Baton Rouge Advocate ran a page-one STORY in which we learned that Louisiana State Police (LSP) had no texts—sent or received—from Edmonson, his former Chief of Staff Charles Dupuy, or any of the four who drove.
It was an LSP Ford Expedition issued to Dupuy that the four drove to San Diego via Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon.
What are the odds that there would be no text messages or photos of the trip?
In this case, 100 percent.
And lest one take this too lightly, consider this: LSP was—and remains—under investigation for that trip, not only because of the vehicle being taken, but because Edmonson flew about a dozen others, including a part-time student worker, to San Diego at taxpayer expense just so they could witness him receiving a national award.
The FBI is known to be investigating the Louisiana State Troopers Association (LSTA) for political contributions funneled from the association through its executive director’s personal bank account. The scope of that investigation could extend to the San Diego trip, though that is not known for certain.
When you’re under investigation, it’s called evidence tampering to destroy electronic communications—if that’s what happened. And authorities normally frown upon the destruction of evidence. In fact, it’s a criminal offense.
Ironically, one of those making the drive to San Diego in that Expedition was Derrell Williams. At the time, he was head of LSP’s Internal Affairs which is charged with investigating reports of misconduct on the part of state troopers. He has since been relieved of those duties but he, of all people, should know the consequences of exorcising electronic communications that might have a bearing on an investigation.
As The Advocate pointed out, it’s improbable but possible that no text messages were sent by any of the six individuals. And, reporter Jim Mustian wrote, it’s even possible that messages, if any, were automatically deleted through some type of customized setting.
Of course the official word from LSP is that the agency has no formal retention policy regarding text messages.
So it would seem that all the bases are covered in the LSP Textgate mystery.
It’s like the lawyer who, upon being sued because his dog bit someone walking past his house responding by saying (1) “My dog doesn’t bite,” (2) “I keep my dog inside a fenced yard,” and (3) “I don’t own a dog.”
Now all other state agencies, thanks to LSP, can forgo instituting a retention policy or quietly go about abolishing any such policy they may already have just in case some other reporters come snooping around.
After all, if a no-policy is good enough for the state’s top law enforcement agency, why should other agencies be burdened by such an encumbrance?