BATON ROUGE-- Gov. John Bel Edwards announced late Friday afternoon that Louisiana State Police Commissioner Calvin Braxton resigned his position, less than a week after a WWL-TV investigation revealed allegations Braxton used his position to get help fixing speeding tickets and to intimidate a trooper who arrested his daughter for DWI.
In his statement released Friday, Edwards said he accepted Braxton's resignation from the Louisiana State Police Commission.
"I believe he made the right decision. The law regarding the removal of a commission member dictates that, as the governor, I must preside over a public hearing," Edwards said. "As such, it was critically important for me to remain impartial and review only the evidence before me. Due process is important. Public officials must hold themselves to the highest ethical standard, and I will accept nothing less as we consider a replacement on the commission.”
Braxton called this week's allegations "unfounded" in a statement, also released by the governor's office Friday.
"In June of 2015, I was appointed by Gov. Bobby Jindal to serve as a member of the Louisiana State Police Commission for the 2015-2020 term and have continued to serve in that capacity based on that appointment. It is a pleasure serving the people of this great state and the troopers who protect and serve us daily," he said. "However, after unfounded allegations regarding my service and with deep consideration for family, I am resigning from this volunteer position effective today July 21, 2017. As a family man, my first priority is to my family and I do not wish for them to have to deal with continuous attacks by the media and others.
Last year, an incident report filed by the State Police Commander of Troop E in Nachotoches accused Braxton of intimidating a trooper after the trooper arrested Braxton’s daughter for DWI.
Emails obtained through a public-records request by WWL-TV show Cathy Derbonne, the former executive director of the commission, helped Braxton fix two speeding tickets.
In November 2015, a sheriff's deputy in Monroe County, Fla., pulled Braxton over for driving 66 mph on a road where the speed limit was 45 mph.
But instead of just dealing with the consequences, emails exchanged between Braxton and Derbonne detail how Derbonne helped Braxton get the citation dismissed.
On Dec. 3, 2015, an email from Derbonne to Braxton said, "This email is for your records. I have attached a copy of the citation. I will handle this for you. No worries."
Braxton replied, "T you," an abbreviated thank you.
“She would not have initiated that unless she was asked to do something. The fact that she cc'd him, copies him, made him aware that she was taking action on his behalf in a personal traffic matter, which is totally inappropriate,” said Metropolitan Crime Commission President Rafael Goyeneche.
Derbonne emailed Braxton a copy of a letter she sent on official Louisiana State Police Commission letterhead to the Monroe County Clerk of Court in Florida asking for the ticket to be “Reduced to a non-moving violation or null processed." ‘Nolle prosse’ is a legal term used when prosecutors dismiss a case. Court records from the Monroe County Clerk’s office show Braxton's citation was dismissed a month after Derbonne sent her letter to the clerk.
Because it was on letterhead, Braxton’s name is prominently printed on it as, at the time, he was Chairman of the commission.
Just days after Braxton asked Derbonne to help with his ticket, his daughter Brandy was arrested for a DWI in Nachitoches, Braxton's home town.
State Trooper Jayson Linebaugh pulled her over. An incident report shows Brandy later blew a .139, nearly twice the state’s legal blood alcohol limit.
She was booked on charges of DWI first offense, speeding, improper lane usage and for having an open container of alcohol in the car.
An incident report written by then-commander of State Police Troop E, Captain Jay Oliphant outlines what happened next. Oliphant writes in the report that he called Calvin Braxton the day after Brandy’s arrest as a courtesy.
Braxton allegedly told the commander that Trooper Linebaugh should have known who he was and that the trooper, “Should have given his daughter professional courtesy, as well as utilizing discretion in not arresting her."
The report says Braxton spoke with Oliphant four times about Trooper Linebaugh, with each conversation becoming more intimidating.
Linebaugh was never reprimanded or disciplined for the arrest and Brandy Braxton successfully completed a pre-trial intervention program for the DWI, according to the Nachitoches Parish District Attorney. The charges against her were ultimately dismissed.
Braxton's replacement will be appointed by the governor. State law requires him to choose one of three people nominated by the presidents of the state's three major colleges and universities.