Edwin Washington Edwards, the high-living four-term politician whose three-decade dominance of Louisiana authorities was each but overshadowed by ungraded and an eight-year national situation stretch, died Monday. He was 93.
Edwards died of respiratory problems with household and friends by his bedside, household spokesperson Leo Honeycutt said. He had suffered bouts of sick wellness successful caller years and entered hospice attraction this period astatine his location successful Gonzales, adjacent the Louisiana capital.
A autochthonal of Louisiana’s Acadiana portion who swore his 1972 oath of bureau successful French and English Edwards enjoyed renewed popularity aft emerging from situation successful 2011 astatine property 83. His speedy wit and flamboyant quality intact, helium joined Trina Grimes, past 32, his 3rd wife. They met erstwhile she began visiting him successful situation aft they struck up a pen-pal relationship.
“I would person walked into situation a blessed antheral had I known however it was going to end,” helium said astatine his lavish 90th day bash successful August 2017.
They had a son, Eli, successful 2013 and starred successful a short-lived world TV show, “The Governor’s Wife.” The lifelong Democrat besides attempted a governmental comeback, losing a runoff to a Republican successful a southbound Louisiana legislature contention successful 2014.
The national lawsuit that led to his May 2000 condemnation progressive authorities riverboat casino licenses awarded during and aft his 4th and last word successful the 1990s. Edwards maintained the lawsuit was built connected misinterpreted, secretly taped conversations and the lies of erstwhile cronies who made deals to debar jail.
Silver-haired, handsome and talented with a adust consciousness of wit and casual charm, Edwards dominated Louisiana authorities successful the precocious 20th period overmuch arsenic Huey P. Long had dominated its earlier years. They shared a populist entreaty to the state’s downtrodden, and governmental fortunes that flowed successful portion from taxes connected oil. But Edwards, a consummate dealmaker, had a cooler demeanor.
Edwards was calved Aug. 7, 1927, to a sharecropper and a midwife successful Avoyelles Parish, portion of the portion settled by 18th period French exiles from Nova Scotia who came to beryllium known arsenic Cajuns. According to his authorized biography, his father’s ancestors were Welsh; his mother’s continental French; but Edwards ever considered himself a Cajun.
Raised a Roman Catholic Edwards preached successful the Church of the Nazarene arsenic a teen and helium ne'er drank oregon smoked. Despite his unabashed fondness for high-stakes gambling, soiled jokes and his estimation arsenic a womanizer, helium earned a pursuing among Catholics and fundamentalists.
He had 4 children during a 40-year matrimony to his precocious schoolhouse sweetheart, the erstwhile Elaine Schwartzenburg, earlier they divorced successful 1989. Five years later, astatine 66, helium joined 29-year-old Candy Picou successful a ceremonial astatine the governor’s mansion. They divorced aft helium went to prison.
A lawyer, Edwards began his governmental vocation connected the City Council successful the municipality of Crowley successful 1954 earlier moving connected to the authorities Legislature, past Congress. He won the governor’s bureau successful 1972 with assistance from organized labour and Black voters realizing their civilian rights-era strength.
He appointed much African Americans to policy-making positions than immoderate erstwhile politician and spearheaded the adoption of a caller constitution. He besides overhauled authorities revenues, tying lipid taxes to price, alternatively than volume, and filling Louisiana’s coffers during an lipid boom.
Constitutionally barred from a 3rd consecutive term, helium near bureau successful 1980 lone to instrumentality 4 years later, aft easy defeating incumbent David C. Treen, the state’s archetypal Republican politician since Reconstruction and a predominant people of Edwards’ barbs. “It takes him an hr and a fractional to ticker ’60 Minutes’” was typical.
The run was concisely suspended by tragedy: Edwards’ youngest brother, lawyer Nolan Edwards, was murdered by a disgruntled client.
A grieving Edwards resumed the contention and went connected to win, past paid disconnected his debts from the $14 cardinal run by chartering a $10,000-a-head travel to France for his friends and supporters.
“I’ve wanted each my beingness to beryllium a king, and present I tin be,” helium quipped during their halt successful Versailles.
But much occupation loomed.
Oil prices plummeted. Edwards pushed done $700 cardinal successful highly unpopular taxes.
Meanwhile, his estimation for impropriety caught up with him. He had seemed impervious to earlier scandals, adjacent erstwhile helium acknowledged that helium and his woman Elaine received $20,000 from South Korean authorities cause Tongsun Park.
But successful 1985, helium was indicted connected national racketeering charges involving infirmary and nursing location regulations. His fortunes had faded by the clip helium was acquitted the adjacent year: Bowing retired of a 1987 runoff erstwhile helium faced definite decision against Democratic Rep. Buddy Roemer, Edwards appeared politically finished.
But Roemer suffered governmental setbacks during his 4 years, including elector rejection of a taxation overhaul package. His power to the Republican Party didn’t help.
Edwards entered the 1991 contention — which was unfastened to members of each parties — arsenic did erstwhile Klansman David Duke besides moving arsenic a Republican. Edwards and Duke earned spots successful a runoff, which Edwards won successful a landslide by stoking fears that an ex-Nazi successful the governor’s mansion would bring economical ruin.
“Vote for the crook. It’s important,” said a fashionable bumper sticker.
Edwards retired successful 1996, but coiled up, again, nether national indictment. Prosecutors said helium took payoffs to power the awarding of casino licenses.
This time, the charges stuck.
Associated Press Writer Melinda Deslatte successful Baton Rouge contributed to this story.