Edwin Edwards, previous Louisiana governor who dominated point out politics prior to going to prison, useless at 93

Edwin Washington Edwards, the substantial-residing 4-expression governor whose 3-10 years dominance of Louisiana politics was all but overshadowed by scandal and an 8-12 months federal jail stretch, died Monday. He was 93. 

Edwards died of respiratory challenges with loved ones and pals by his bedside, family spokesman Leo Honeycutt claimed. He experienced suffered bouts of sick health in latest decades and entered hospice treatment this month at his home in Gonzales, in close proximity to the Louisiana funds.

“I have lived a good existence, experienced better breaks than most, had some terrible breaks, also, but which is all aspect of it. I attempted to assist as quite a few people as I could and I hope I did that, and I hope, if I did, that they will help many others, way too. I like Louisiana and I always will,” Edwards claimed in some of his last text, in accordance to Honeycutt’s statement. 

Before in the week, the previous governor also explained, “I have created no bones that I have thought of myself on borrowed time for 20 many years and we each and every know that all this entertaining has to conclude at some level.” For him, that time was shortly immediately after daybreak this morning, the statement mentioned.


A native of Louisiana’s Acadiana region who swore his 1972 oath of workplace in French and English, Edwards loved renewed popularity immediately after emerging from jail in 2011 at age 83. His fast wit and flamboyant character intact, he married Trina Grimes, then 32, his third wife. They fulfilled when she started checking out him in prison after they struck up a pen-pal partnership. 

“I would have walked into jail a pleased person had I regarded how it was going to conclude,” he said at his lavish 90th birthday bash in August 2017.

FILE - In this Nov. 4, 2014, file photo, former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards addresses the crowd during an election watch party in Baton Rouge, La.  Edwin Washington Edwards, the high-living four-term governor whose three-decade dominance of Louisiana politics was all but overshadowed by scandal and an eight-year federal prison stretch, died Monday, July 12, 2021 . He was 93.  Edwards died of respiratory problems with family and friends by his bedside, family spokesman Leo Honeycutt said. He had suffered bouts of ill health in recent years and entered hospice care this month at his home in Gonzales, near the Louisiana capital. (AP Photo/Bill Feig, File)

FILE – In this Nov. 4, 2014, file picture, previous Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards addresses the group throughout an election check out celebration in Baton Rouge, La.  Edwin Washington Edwards, the superior-residing 4-time period governor whose 3-10 years dominance of Louisiana politics was all but overshadowed by scandal and an eight-calendar year federal prison stretch, died Monday, July 12, 2021 . He was 93.  Edwards died of respiratory difficulties with family members and pals by his bedside, family members spokesman Leo Honeycutt mentioned. He had suffered bouts of ill well being in current yrs and entered hospice treatment this thirty day period at his household in Gonzales, near the Louisiana funds. (AP Image/Invoice Feig, File)
(AP Image/Monthly bill Feig, File)

They had a son, Eli, in 2013 and starred in a quick-lived reality Tv set display, “The Governor’s Wife.” The lifelong Democrat also tried a political comeback, getting rid of a runoff to a Republican in a south Louisiana congressional race in 2014. 

The federal circumstance that led to his Might 2000 conviction concerned point out riverboat on line casino licenses awarded for the duration of and soon after his fourth and ultimate expression in the 1990s. Edwards preserved the situation was designed on misinterpreted, secretly taped conversations and the lies of former cronies who made deals to keep away from jail.

Silver-haired, handsome and gifted with a dry feeling of humor and effortless attraction, Edwards dominated Louisiana politics in the late 20th century considerably as Huey P. Prolonged had dominated its before decades. They shared a populist enchantment to the state’s downtrodden, and political fortunes that flowed in aspect from taxes on oil. But Edwards, a consummate dealmaker, experienced a cooler demeanor.


Edwards was born Aug. 7, 1927, to a sharecropper and a midwife in Avoyelles Parish, aspect of the region settled by 18th century French exiles from Nova Scotia who arrived to be regarded as Cajuns. According to his approved biography, his father’s ancestors ended up Welsh his mother’s continental French but Edwards constantly regarded himself a Cajun. 

Raised a Roman Catholic, Edwards preached in the Church of the Nazarene as a teen and he never drank or smoked. Despite his unabashed fondness for superior-stakes gambling, dirty jokes and his reputation as a womanizer, he attained a next amongst Catholics and fundamentalists. 

He experienced four youngsters during a 40-calendar year relationship to his higher college sweetheart, the former Elaine Schwartzenburg, ahead of they divorced in 1989. 5 several years later, at 66, he married 29-12 months-old Sweet Picou in a ceremony at the governor’s mansion. They divorced following he went to jail.

A lawyer, Edwards started his political vocation on the Town Council in the town of Crowley in 1954 in advance of going on to the condition Legislature, then Congress. He received the governor’s office in 1972 with support from structured labor and Black voters realizing their civil legal rights-period energy.

He appointed much more African Americans to plan-producing positions than any past governor and spearheaded the adoption of a new constitution. He also overhauled state revenues, tying oil taxes to rate, somewhat than volume, and filling Louisiana’s coffers for the duration of an oil boom.

Constitutionally barred from a 3rd consecutive term, he still left office in 1980 only to return 4 years later on, following very easily defeating incumbent David C. Treen, the state’s initial Republican governor considering that Reconstruction and a repeated concentrate on of Edwards’ barbs. “It can take him an hour and a half to look at ’60 Minutes'” was standard.

The marketing campaign was briefly suspended by tragedy: Edwards’ youngest brother, lawyer Nolan Edwards, was murdered by a disgruntled customer. 

A grieving Edwards resumed the race and went on to gain, then compensated off his debts from the $14 million campaign by chartering a $10,000-a-head vacation to France for his close friends and supporters.

“I have wanted all my lifestyle to be a king, and now I can be,” he quipped all through their halt in Versailles.

But a lot more issues loomed.

Oil selling prices plummeted. Edwards pushed by means of $700 million in very unpopular taxes. 

Meanwhile, his popularity for impropriety caught up with him. He experienced seemed impervious to before scandals, even when he acknowledged that he and his spouse Elaine gained $20,000 from South Korean federal government agent Tongsun Park.

But in 1985, he was indicted on federal racketeering charges involving hospital and nursing house rules. His fortunes had light by the time he was acquitted the upcoming 12 months: Bowing out of a 1987 runoff when he confronted certain defeat from Democratic Rep. Buddy Roemer, Edwards appeared politically concluded. 

But Roemer endured political setbacks throughout his 4 several years, together with voter rejection of a tax overhaul bundle. His switch to the Republican Bash didn’t aid. 

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Edwards entered the 1991 race — which was open to associates of all parties — as did previous Klansman David Duke, also operating as a Republican. Edwards and Duke gained places in a runoff, which Edwards gained in a landslide by stoking fears that an ex-Nazi in the governor’s mansion would carry economic spoil.

“Vote for the criminal. It really is crucial,” said a well-known bumper sticker.

Edwards retired in 1996, but wound up, once more, less than federal indictment. Prosecutors said he took payoffs to affect the awarding of casino licenses. 

This time, the prices caught. 

Involved Press Writer Melinda Deslatte in Baton Rouge contributed to this tale.