Could there possibly be a more interesting person than Edwin Edwards? Could there possibly be a more interesting politician that Edwin Edwards? I don't think so! This man has captured the attention of the world, for better or worse. When people think of Louisiana politics, they think of Edwin Edwards. Is this good? Probably not, but it is what it is. No matter what the man has done to hurt so many, Edwin Edwards is still loved all over South Louisiana to this day. Even if tomorrow's paper said that Edwin edwards just blew a hole in the levy and flooded New Orleans again, he would probably be elected as our governor again. Like it or not, Edwin Edwards is a legend!
"Is Edwin Edwards A Cajun?"
Everyone knows that Edwin Edwards is famous, but is he a Cajun? He was born outside of Marksville, Louisiana on August 7, 1927. His father was Clarence Edwards and his mother was Agnès Brouillette. His father was half Cajun and a Presbyterian, and his mother was a full Cajun Catholic. This would make Edwin Edwards 3/4 Cajun, so it would be proper to say that he is a Cajun.
"Edwin Edwards' Political Career"
The story of Edwin Edwards' political career is fascinating. When he was a young man, he was actually a preacher for a short bit. When WW II broke out, Edwards served in the Air Corps. After his military service, he went to law school at LSY and actually graduated from it when he was only 21 years old. Fresh out of law school, Edwin Edwards moved to Crowley, Louisiana because he was told that there weren't many French speaking lawyers there, and since he was fluent in Cajun French (the Cajun language) he knew that the business would come to him. It was in Crowley that he first jumped into Louisiana politics in 1954 by winning a seat on the Crowley City Council. Just ten years later, the young Democrat won an elected seat in the Louisiana State Senate. After only one year with the Senate, Edwin edwards won another seat with the U.S. House of Representatives in 1965.
Edwin Edward's ran to become the governor of Louisiana for the first time in 1972. As a Cajun Democrat, Edwards easily defeated the Republican contender David Treen by a 57% to 43% vote. The pull that Edwards had with the black, Cajun, and Southern Louisiana voters pushed him into the forefront. He easily won another election as governor in 1976. Edwards then won a third term against David Treen to serve from 1984-1988, and his fourth and final win against David Duke made him the governor of Louisiana from 1992-1996.
"Edwin Edwards & Corruption In Louisiana Politics"
Louisiana has always been plagued with corruption in its politics and politicians. That's just they way it is down here. What really makes us unique is that folks tend to love a crooked politician even more than a straight and honest one. Nobody at this point can claim that Edwin Edwards was not a corrupt politician, yet he would likely win any race in Louisiana tomorrow if he was on the ticket. Doesn't that strike you as a bit odd? Well, it's the strange truth.
Edwin Edwards' name was first tied to corruption in Louisiana politics way back in his first two terms as governor in 1972-1980. It was widely reported that he was taking illegal campaign contributions. In response, Edwin Edwards stated, "It was illegal for them to give, but not for me to receive." In other words, he didn't care that everyone knew that he was a corrupt and crooked politician. You can even argue that this just added to his charm. Edwards was known as a highly charismatic politician, and this was certainly as asset in that regards.
Edwards is also well known for his trips to Las Vegas. He was known to take very frequent gambling trips to the Sin City, and he remarkably always came back with a lot more cash than he left with. Edwin Edwards would show off all of his fresh loot to the press and brag about being the best gambler. Do you think that anyone really believed that this was because he was so "good" at gambling? During this early years of crooked politics, one of his commissioners was even convicted of taking bribes, and of having connections with the mafia boss carlos Marcello. A former associate of Edwards that had a "falling out" with him ran to the press to explain that Edwards was selling government posts. Shortly after those accusations were made, Edwards' former associate was shot in the middle of the day in front of a courthouse in Shreveport, Louisiana.
In 1985, Edwin Edwards was finally brought to trial for corruption. He was charged with mail fraud, obstruction of justice, and bribery. Of course Edwards said that he was innocent, and that the whole thing was a conspiracy by the prosecutor and the Republican Party. The first trial resulted in a mistrial, and he was acquitted in the second one.
Edwin Edwards was finally served justice when he was charged with 26 counts in 1998. The primary charges were racketeering, extortion, mail fraud, and wire fraud. His son, and several other associates, was also charged. The case stemmed around Edwards' assistance in securing casino licenses. The owner of the San Francisco 49ers admitted to giving Edwin Edwards $400,000 for help in getting a license. Edwards was found guilty of 17 out of the 26 counts. Edwin Edwards was sent to jail at the Federal Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas from 2002 to 2004. In 2005 he was transferred to the Federal Correctional Institution in Oakdale, Louisiana. He is currently set to be released in 2011, but you can drop by and try to pay him a visit in the meantime. Just ask for inmate number 03128-095.
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