Edwards: I did not steal from taxpayers

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wwltv.com

Posted on July 31, 2011 at 7:39 AM

Updated Sunday, Jul 31 at 9:56 AM

Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News

Just weeks after his release from home detention and nearly a decade since he left for federal prison, former Governor Edwin Edwards is reclaiming his swagger and shining up his tarnished reputation.

Saturday, three of his children introduced him at a news conference at the Hotel Monteleone in the New Orleans French Quarter, saying their father kept the two promises he made when walked into prison in October 2002.

"He guaranteed us he would live to walk out and that they would not beat him," said his daughter Anna Edwards.

On Friday, Edwards married his third wife, Trina Grimes Scott.

He says she was among the thousands of people who wrote him after the last year's release of biography.

Edwards says he quickly struck up a friendship with the 32-year-old registered Republican.
    
"I have had a very checkered life and there was a time in my life when many people would have been happy to visit with me, wherever I was, whatever I was doing," said Edwards. "This was different. I was in prison and she was free, but she came."  

Supporters paid $250 a plate for a seat at Edwards' birthday bash and roast.  Roasters included longtime friends Sen. John Alario, former insurance commissioner and secretary of state Jim Brown, Democratic party chair Buddy Leach, businessman Bill Goldring, socialite Mickey Easterling and artist George Rodrigue.

Before the private affair, Edwards wanted to set the record straight on a number of issues.

The former governor says despite his federal corruption conviction, he did not steal from taxpayers.

"Whatever my problems are or were, they did not and do not and will not involve taking money from the people of this state," said Edwards. "That's a fact."

Edwards says he was also never convicted of selling lucrative state riverboat casino licenses.

"What I was convicted of was extortion," said Edwards. "Friends who were used by the government to testify against me, testified that I extorted them. Not one of them testified that I had done anything to help him."

Edwards also said Louisiana's current Governor Bobby Jindal won't be able to solve the problems now facing Louisiana on his way to Washington, D.C.

"I think he makes a good governor for California, Minnesota, Florida, all those places where people have been putting up all that money concerned who the governor of Louisiana is."

The former governor thanked his many supporters for writing him while he was in prison. He says he received about 35,000 letters at the rate of about 15 per day, 75 per week.

"I couldn't begin to tell you how what it has meant to me that people are so gracious and kind and understanding," said Edwards.

Edwards ended a long night at a book signing of his authorized biography, with author Leo Honeycutt.  There are plans to sell videotaped copies of the evening's roast and a book about the event as well.
   
 

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